“It takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one” (Vince Lombardi). That’s why customer service has become an essential part of every brand’s strategy.
Even though some companies might still not give it that much attention, the truth is every single one of them needs customer service to be of the highest quality possible.
Today, the most important thing is not about offering the best product or the fastest service, but rather the quality you provide to give your consumers a great experience purchasing from your brand.
Although, it’s not like I’m saying you should focus ALL your energies into customer service. The product and overall strategies also need attention since it’s the entire package a company delivers that will indeed conquer a client.
Basically, what I’m saying is: you need to know about customer service and exceed the customer’s expectations. Meanwhile, your product also needs to be of high-quality. Is that clear?
Now, let’s dive into the customer service subject? I’m going to tell you here all about the concept of customer service, how it impacts your marketing and sales strategies, and even more.
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What is Customer Service?
If you do a little research online, you will find there are many ways to define customer service. After a little research myself, I found some explanations that match my line of thought and that’s what I’m going to share here:
Customer service is about a business’s interactions with their consumers. More than just communicating with them, it involves problem-solving, delivering quality products, providing a better purchasing experience, and so on.
In general terms, the better the service, the more loyal customer you’ll have. It’s also important to notice that customer service happens throughout the entire shopping experience: before, during, and after a person becomes, in fact, a customer.
That is my way to sum up the meaning of customer service and you may or may not agree with me on this, but I also think that there is a direct and strict association with Customer Experience.
How is customer service related to customer experience?
Well, isn’t customer experience a strategy to focus on making consumers happy and more satisfied when purchasing from your brand? Then how can we deny the existence of a relationship between these two?
Customer service is, essentially, a series of activities to enhance customer experience. We can include all services related to buying a product, for example the availability of an eCommerce attendant, good customer support, and even something as simple as a “one click purchase” option.
What are the types of customer service?
When talking about the types of customer service, we can go two different ways:
- describing the activities related to it, like customer support, real time service, etc.
- understanding the difference between proactive and reactive customer service.
Right now, I think that for our purposes the second option is more attractive. Curiously enough, there are not many people talking about this, but they definitely should since this part is essential to work on customer service approaches and strategies.
First, what is proactive customer service?
This concept revolves around the idea of anticipating customer’s needs. For example, the abandoned carts can be reduced by having a tool available to answer some of the most common asked questions, whether that’s through a chatbot or a Live Chat solution.
The same way, these two features in an eCommerce can be used to offer new products, revisit products of interest, and practice cross-selling strategies. These are all proactive actions you can take that will help improve customer service.
In the meantime, the reactive customer service happens when the customer takes the first step. Meaning: you will only react to what is being asked by the consumer.
The names of the types are actually pretty self-explanatory, but it’s vital that people responsible for managing customer service in their companies are aware of what they are about.
Are there any challenges in customer service?
You will have to pardon my language here, but I must say:
Oh, boy, and how! Especially when dealing with unsatisfied and angry customers, the challenge of keeping your patience can be, and I once again ask to excuse the language: quite a pickle. As a matter of fact, the whole customer service team needs to be exceptionally trained to perform their job.
This includes not only customer support attendants, but also sales reps, and whoever more has direct contact with customers.
These are some of the biggest challenges you will face regarding customer service:
- unsatisfied customers
- keeping up with customer needs
- learning the best way to talk to consumers
- understanding what are customers issues
- creating and maintaining a good name for the company
- having answers to every question
- not being able to give the customer what they want (discount, free shipping, etc.)
- needing to serve multiple customers at once
- inconsistency throughout the customer journey and experience
- lack of preparation to deal with customer service matters
As you can, there are tons of reasons why customer service can be challenging. And this is just to name a few because there are still many others that I’m sure you can think of yourself from your own experience in the field.
So, what can you do to avoid (or at least deal better with) these difficulties? The short version answer is: study, prepare, practice, make mistakes and learn from them, make things right and learn from it too.
Since we’re on this subject, let’s keep going with a similar, directly-related topic:
What skills are required to perform good customer service?
Seeing there are so many challenges to customer service practice, a good set of skills is required to help handle these demands. However, I should emphasize here that these are not something we all have in us, most skills can be worked on and perfected.
So it’s not like you will hire a flawless team right away, you will build a group and make them the best in the market through strategic training and education on the subject.
That being said, what are the skills that make a good customer service team?
Not a question about this, right? When dealing with people in any kind of business, you need to have patience. This is true mainly for those who are responsible for customer support, since many of the consumers that come for support are either confused, angry or upset about something.
Taking your time to really listen to what the customer is saying and finding the best way to answer their questions like you’re friends instead of strangers in a business transaction will definitely be worth the effort. Results will show happier, more satisfied, and loyal customers.
Okay, so, empathy is not something people usually put on their resumes and not exactly the most important trait you should look for. Nonetheless, it is important and it must be practiced! This is highly connected to listening to the consumer and truly understanding what is their need.
When you give the customer your attention, when you ask for more information, when you show that you care and you really really want to help, that’s what makes the difference for your brand to have customers that are happy and that will keep coming back to make deals with you.
Understand the customer
Understanding the customer is more than listening to their complaints, here, I’m talking about the need to gather and analyze Customer Data. Because it’s only through data that you will notice behavior patterns and find the best strategies to serve your consumers.
Additionally, when you know and understand who is your customer, you will also know what kind of language to use and you can be prepared because you will already know the most common questions and problems they have. That way, the right answers will always be at your fingertips, literally.
Knowledge of the product
This is not a skill that people will have before starting to work with your brand, but it is something they need to have right from the first day at the company. Knowing the products, understanding what are the main characteristics and knowing how to explain them to the consumers is essential.
Plus, the agent must know both how to give support, answering doubts and leading people through problems, and how to sell the product, telling people about its advantages and benefits.
Knowing how to sell makes it crucial to have this one quality: being persuasive. Whether it’s through telephone, email, or Live Chat, your attendants need to learn how to be convincing and not pressure the client at the same time. Trick, but totally doable!
This is mostly about not losing a potential customer than it is to making a sales pitch. When someone comes asking about a product, it means they’re interested, right? So you don’t need to force them into buying, but you can send an irresistible message or offer during the talk.
Moreover, when a customer comes with complaints or objections, it’s the agent’s job to change how they feel, not persuade them that the product is better or anything like that.
These are some skills that should be practiced with your customer service team, though there are many more that are equally important, I think these are a way to get started to create a compelling and effective group.
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What is the role of customer service in marketing and sales?
You might think that highly educated customers, as they are today with all the information available online, would make marketing and sales reps jobs easier, but that’s not the case.
Since customers usually get to the purchasing phase already knowing what they want, feel, and expect out of a product, it’s by providing good customer service that will take you one step closer to closing a deal.
In other words, customer service is the differential you can offer for your audience. Here’s a fact on the subject for you:
After one negative experience, 51% of people would never do business with the company again.
That only reinforces the importance of creating a reliable team that will help your business thrive with the best customer service in the market. Especially because unhappy customers won’t come back. In addition, chances are that one bad experience will cost you not only losing a customer but getting bad reviews and not acquiring new customers.
Additionally, marketing, sales, and customer service need to have cross-communication. It’s the only way to guarantee strategies will be aligned and that everyone will treat the customer the same way and with the same care — given that inconsistency throughout the purchasing process is a common complaint from consumers.
This communication is also essential so the customer service group knows when a new campaign or promotion is being launched by the marketing team. That way, they will know what to say when customers come asking about any offers they received lately.
The same way, customer service people can help marketing crews to better understand the customer’s pain points and what type of content to offer them. Do you want to know a few more ways how marketing and customer service can work together? Here they are:
- social media as a support channel
- content creation and distribution
- customer loyalty programs
- creation of buyer persona
- development of shared goals
- establishment of a good reputation
And how does the impact of customer service on sales happen? By being useful to the consumer, you will be increasing conversion rates, customer lifetime value, and customer retention, while also giving you better paths to work on upselling and cross-selling strategies.
Therefore, improving your branding and creating an overall better customer experience.
Can we help you improve your customer service?
To sum it up, the goal of customer service is to provide quick and effective answers. But, how will you do that?
Live chat is one way to go.
Did you know the number 1 reason people dislike calling companies is not being able to speak to a real person right away? With a Live Chat solution, that won’t happen as customers will have a human agent available.
Here at Arena, we have this solution that will improve your Customer Experience and some other features like the Live Blog that are excellent to boost customer engagement. You can learn all about it on our products page.
And here’s a treat for you: you can have a free trial period for any of our services! Get started for free now.