What is Customer Service | Arena

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Customer service gives companies an edge over their competition. It is one of the most powerful ways to retain customers. At the same time, customer expectations are rising. They expect faster answers to questions and concerns. If they don’t get those answers, you might not get another chance to win that customer’s loyalty.

To help you succeed in today’s competitive environment, use this guide to build and develop your customer service department.

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What is Customer Service?

Modern customer service is crucial for a few reasons. First, high-quality customer service directly contributes to customer loyalty. Second, strong customer service keeps your company safe from social media criticism. Third, robust customer service gives you insights into the concerns and needs of customers.

Customer Service Definition

Customer service means answering questions, responding to complaints, helping your customers use your products, and services and creating a memorable customer experience. 

How To Set Your Customer Service Strategy

Your business goals are fundamental to making customer service decisions. For example, a company focused on growing word of mouth referrals and high lifetime customer value should invest heavily in customer happiness. On the other hand, a company with low customer lifetime value may decide to keep its annual support costs to a minimum.

Step 1: Set Your Business Goals For Customer Service

Let’s assume that your business goals include growing your Customer Satisfaction Score. This goal will inform the types of customer service you provide. Through customer feedback and discussions with your team, you may find that customers want longer service hours, faster answers to their questions, and the ability to speak with somebody on the phone when they have a problem. 

Step 2: Choose Your Customer Service Channels

In this situation, your customer service strategy should probably include the following options: phone support and customer service live chat. To manage your operating costs, you might limit phone service to standard business hours and offer live chat until 9 pm. This combination means that you can offer more service to customers.

Step 3: Create Your Customer Service Metrics

In addition, your plan should include objectives for customer service quality. It is not good enough to say that you want to meet customer expectations. To manage customer queries effectively, you need specific numbers and metrics. To get you started, see our guide to the top 10 live chat metrics. These measures will help you to determine if your customer service agents are responding to customers with prompt, high-quality service.

Your metrics should a variety of scenarios including proactive and reactive customer service. Reactive customer service means quickly responding to the customer when they pose a question to you. Proactive customer service means improving your company’s processes to solve common problems. For example, you might notice that customers have problems entering their payment details. Instead of manually solving this problem repeatedly by issuing a service ticket, ask your IT colleagues to develop a lasting solution.

Step 4: Apply Continuous Improvement To Your Customer Service

Few companies have fully optimized their customer service capabilities. There is almost always an opportunity to enhance the quantity and quality of the service you provide to customers. If you are not yet delivering customer delight, use these two strategies. By using these strategies, you will also find it far easier to keep your loyal customers.

1) Offer more customer service 

While basic, it’s important to start here. Start by comparing your typical customer service hours of operation with customer needs. For example, a company located in California may have a significant number of customers on the east coast. In this situation, you may have a mismatch because 9 am to 5 pm Pacific is equivalent to 12 pm to 8 pm Eastern time. As a result, frustrated customers may have to wait all morning for your customer service to open. This means many customers will have a negative experience due to long response times. Adding customer service reps on the east coast (i.e. increasing the quantity of customer service) can solve to solve this problem.

By the way, your approach to customer service should offer multiple options. For example, you might have the following customer support channels: live chat, phone support, and a knowledge base. Some of your customers might prefer to interact with your agents digitally while others might prefer the human interaction available through calls.

2) Improve customer service quality 

When consumers walk away from their customer service interactions with all of their questions answered, it becomes easy to grow relationships with customers. By reducing the number of bad experiences, customer retention will also get easier.

Each company will have its own approach to customer service training. Some organizations emphasize scripts while others offer a comprehensive knowledge base. Equipping customer service professionals with training and knowledge is essential to raising the quality of service. Without a knowledge base and other support documents, customer support agents will struggle to effectively solve problems or answer questions.

The 6 Key Barriers To Delivering Excellent Service

Now that you have established your customer service strategy, channels and metrics, it’s time to face the challenges. Delivering stellar customer service in today’s environment is tough! Customers have been conditioned to expect instant gratification thanks to ecommerce and other advances. 

Consider the following significant customer service challenges and discuss them with your managers and reps. If you find that your company is experiencing multiple difficulties, you’re not alone. Few companies have solved all of these problems. However, making progress on these challenges is well worth the effort because you can gain a competitive advantage.

  1. 33% of customers are most frustrated by having to wait on hold. (HubSpot Research)
  2. 53% of shoppers believe their feedback doesn’t go to anyone who can actually act on it. (Microsoft)
  3. Over 70% of consumers believe that companies should collaborate on their behalf so that they don’t have to repeat information to different representatives. (Zendesk)
  4. For 33% of consumers, the most important aspect of a good customer service experience is getting their issue resolved in a single interaction. (Microsoft)
  5. Over 40% of customers consider having to deal with automated systems that make it hard to reach a human agent a frustrating experience.
  6. Over 40% of customers are frustrated at having to repeat information  multiple times.

Solving these causes of poor customer service is well worth the effort. Research indicates that 82% of customers will spend more money on companies that deliver great online service. 

Preventing these issues requires multiple strategies including equipping your staff with effective training and encouraging collaboration between customer service. Finally, the right customer service technologies are also critical. For example, a customer service agent should be able to enter a customer’s details into a service ticket into a customer relationship management platform. If a customer has to repeat themselves, call back or contract multiple people to solve a problem, that is a sign that your customer service processes are not working well. 

Five Key Traits & Skills Your Customer Service Team Must Have

Human interaction is at the heart of strong customer service. Therefore, getting clear on the specific traits and customer service skills your customer service reps must have is vital. Keep these capabilities and traits in mind when recruiting new customer service representatives, developing training, and coaching your reps.

1) Communication skills

Communication is the key skill of customer service. It starts with active listening and the ability to express yourself are crucial skills in customer service. This skill set is so important that it is worth testing candidates on their communication skills during the recruiting process. 

For even greater results, it is helpful to break down communication skills into different sub-skills like listening, speaking, reading, and writing. For example, a customer service agent may need the ability to answer phone calls in the morning and then switch to answering live chat questions in the afternoon.

Customer service managers should regularly coach their employees on communication skills as well. Our ability to interact effectively with other people, especially when there are problems, is a crucial business skill. To help your reps deliver a consistent experience, make sure your customer service training covers communication skills in detail, especially listening skills.

2) Company and product knowledge

New hires may join your company with strong communication skills. However, few people will have the right level of company and product information when they join your customer service team. Even if your staff has good technical skills, you still need to train them on how to apply your organization’s customer service standards. That means spending significant onboarding time on company and product training.

There are three popular ways to help new customer service representatives acquire product knowledge. Start by developing a structured training program or handbook covering the most common support questions. New representatives should be equipped to answer common questions before they start interacting with customers. After newly hired customer service representatives have a basic understanding of your products and company policies, you can move to the next phase.

The next phase of developing customer service representatives is to use a job shadowing process. This is a simple way to build relationships between staff and encourage knowledge sharing. Pair your new customer support reps with an experienced rep. Let me listen in as the experienced employee works with customers. After a few interactions switch roles (i.e. let the new person interact with the customers and have the experienced person listen in). Through this process, customer service representatives will learn more about how to deliver a seamless customer experience.

Finally, recognize that all customer support teams need access to ongoing training. Your company will continue to come up with new products, company policies, and change processes. Equip employees to thrive through these changes by giving them access to a knowledge base. This is a common resource where customer support staff can ask questions and share solutions to problems.

3) Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills are critically important when serving difficult customers. Extensive training on your company’s processes will help your customer service staff to solve many problems. However, do not expect training to cover every situation. Therefore, it is crucial to recruit employees who have a track record of solving problems with people.

4) Empathy

Logical problem-solving skills will only take you so far in the customer service world. It’s also vital to have empathy – to listen and understand a customer’s feelings. Finding common ground with customers goes a long way to creating a human connection with the customer.

For example, a customer might be angry if an important Christmas present did not arrive on time. Immediately attempting to solve the problem without acknowledging the customer’s feelings is unlikely to be productive. Instead, acknowledge the customer’s feelings and how this delay may have ruined their day. Instead, it is more effective to spend some time listening to the customer and understanding their disappointment. Only after the customer feels heard will they be open to a solution (e.g. a refund, discount on a future purchase, or something else).

5) Patience

Patience is another vital customer service trait that matters. In a customer support role, you will often interact with frustrated customers. Without the patience to calmly listen to the customer’s comments, a customer service representative may anger a customer even more!

It is challenging to develop patience if you do not already have this trait. Therefore, it is especially important to ask about a person’s customer service experiences during the hiring process. For example, if a customer service representative has had jobs in retail, restaurants, or hospitality in the past, there is a good chance that they have developed patience.

How Excellent Customer Service Boosts Sales

Delivering outstanding customer service is also crucial to lifting sales. When your sales reps have a happy customer base, it is far easier to ask for referrals. High customer satisfaction levels also make it easier to upsell customers on additional products and services.

Offering customer service via live chat is especially valuable as a way of lifting sales. After the interaction is complete, spend some time reviewing the most common customer requests. For example, a software company might find that its customers want hands-on implementation support. Offering that package to customers during the sales process can bring new revenue to your company and ease pressure on customer service.

Lifting sales and customer service becomes easier when you give options to customers. Industry research shows that 41% of customers prefer live chat as a way to interact with companies. With Arena Live Chat, you can meet serve customers quickly and efficiently through your website. Sign up for a free trial of Arena.

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