All companies, whether services or products, have a customer service area. This is one of the most important sectors that help companies distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Below, we tell you everything you need to know about this area and how you can improve the quality of service to your customers.
What is the customer service area?
Customer service covers all the actions that we implement in our company to meet the needs of our customers or future customers. These actions must be active from before a person contacts us until after they have purchased our service. It is extremely important to be present at this last stage, giving customers good after-sales service, especially if they have a complaint about the product or service they have purchased.
Customer service is directly related to helping our customers resolve their queries and it is also related to offering a good product. To define good customer service, we can mention some values that must be present when we implement it:
History and evolution of the area
We could start talking about the history of customer service going back to the pre-industrial era, where those who had the privilege of being served were people from high social strata. But the idea of customer service as we know it today arose with the advent of the industrial revolution. The automation of many processes and the arrival of machines that replace humans made the customer service process to be optimized since it was necessary for there to be a person explaining how the first machines that were marketed worked.
We can establish the beginning of the customer service area in 1946, the year in which the first standards of customer service and service quality were created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). From that moment, customers were the main axis of companies.
Call centers emerged in the 1960s, and the effort to increase customer satisfaction grew. Companies began to invest large amounts of money in an area specialized in serving their customers. Voice recorders began to be implemented in the 1970s.
From the beginning, customer service has been linked to technological evolution, so as it progressed, the customer service department was also adapted and that is why it is constantly changing. Since the massive appearance of the Internet, other forms of communication such as e-mails have been implemented, and today, companies have a social media communication department directly devoted to customer service.
Companies need to adapt to new technologies because their customers are constantly updating and will look for the easiest way to communicate, the usual one. If a company is not able to adapt to the context in which it is immersed, in all its departments including customer service, it can become obsolete.
As much as there has been evolution and modifications in the technical form of attention and service, the preference of customers has not changed. Customers always prefer a company that meets their expectations and can solve their concerns on time.
Main functions and objectives of the customer service area
Customer service should not only answer questions from customers, at a certain point it is the area responsible for representing the company. Management must provide the guidelines that employees in the service sector must use. Having a brand manual can help standardize these processes. Similarly, standardization and automation should not be confused, customized customer service is always preferable.
Here is a list of the main functions of the area:
1. To increase customer satisfaction
The customer has to find satisfaction when acquiring our product or service, and the customer service area must increase this satisfaction. The answers to your questions, the efficiency when providing the information, and promptness are the keys to achieving. Customers must feel special and listened to by the company.
2. To achieve customer loyalty
Although getting customers to be loyal has a lot to do with what we offer, attention and service to them often tip the balance in our favor if the customer is taking time to decide on a product or service. Studies show that customers always prefer good customer service over other benefits. Retaining customers is always more profitable than attracting new ones.
3. To give a good image of the business
As we already said, the customer service area is the one on the front line with customers. It is the area that represents the company and is responsible for giving the best image of the business. With good customer service, it is possible to achieve it. It is always useful to have training for employees in this sector so that they can perform accordingly.
4. To take recommendations from customers to improve
Since this is the area that is in direct contact with customers, you can talk to them and learn about their requests and needs as well as their suggestions. These recommendations must be taken into account, especially when the same criticism or recommendation is repeated several times. That is the moment to detect what changes we must implement in our product or service to improve.
Possible problems in the customer service area
It is likely that when we audit the customer service area we will find certain shortcomings. This sector of our company needs special attention.
To see where these problems come from, we mention the most common mistakes:
The service or product offered is not properly known
This error is more frequent than we imagine. Our customer service area must know perfectly what we offer so that they can respond efficiently to the requirements; otherwise, they may provide wrong information or delay in seeking the answers they need to give.
Lack of protocols and ignorance of procedures
The lack of a brand manual or even a detailed process about what is expected from the service area contributes to this error. The management area must establish the protocols to deal with customers and the procedures of what must be done in each possible situation that arises.
Not using all available communication channels
Most of the technologies that we can use to optimize our sector are within the reach of all companies. Taking advantage of existing communication channels is very important, especially the ones most used by our customers, as this will be the way they try to communicate with us. In the beginning, the telephone was used as the main means of contact, but today we have social networks and we can use them to our advantage.
Having useless contact forms
It is important that if we have a tool available to our customers, it works. It has a worse image that we have a contact form to which we never respond than not having any. A contact form is used for our customers to leave their request and when the service area receives it, to be able to respond to it. If customers try to communicate through a channel that we offer but it is we who do not respond, we are not offering a good service.
Offering services that cannot be fulfilled
In the eagerness to want to satisfy customers, especially when they are dissatisfied for some reason or when we want to attract them, we tend to make the mistake of offering services that we can’t provide. This is not beneficial to anyone. From the customer side, it will be taken as a delusion when they realize that we could not give them what we promised, and unfortunately it will be true. This practice should be avoided in all cases.
Lack of proactivity
As in all areas of a company, employees must be proactive. In the case of customer service, this is a plus. A proactive worker will be willing to solve the problems that arise and will favor the efficiency of the sector. Being proactive is also a benefit when we want to offer something to customers.
What is the customer service area made up of?
When we think about forming the work team for the customer service sector, it is necessary to define the following three questions as a company:
1. What service will you offer?
The type of product that a company offers refers to the customer service that it will offer. It is necessary to know the product or service that our company sells and what needs our customers may have when purchasing it to know what service we will offer.
2. What level of service do you want to offer?
Once we take into account the possible questions that a customer may ask us, we have to determine what level of service we are going to offer. If we need more or less specialized customer service in certain tasks or a more generalized service for which we have to create certain procedure manuals. If we detect the need to have a specialized technical service, it is important that we incorporate it, since providing a good technical service is part of customer service.
3. What is the best way to offer the service?
In this step, we have to detect the best way to be in contact with customers. Knowing how our customers prefer to communicate with us is very important to implementing the use of the correct channel. Currently, most companies use new technologies applied to customer service: contact through social networks and live chat channels are implemented to give customers more ways to communicate with them.
Once we define the basic questions for our service department, we can mention key elements that we must respect when we implement the service:
- Good presence and kindness: people who are in the sector and have to communicate with customers, either face-to-face or through technology, must always have a good predisposition and kindness to resolve queries. If it is face-to-face care, the good presence of workers is important.
- Feedback and response to complaints: customer requirements must have a favorable response, whenever necessary. If a customer makes a complaint to us and our company is not able to solve it, it will be a point against us. It’s important to keep customers informed about the status of their purchase because it allows us to avoid customers continually contacting us to check what the next step is.
- Sector facilities: it seems obvious but it is important to highlight it. If we have a physical space where customers can visit to buy a product or acquire a service, it should be impeccable. This will be the place where our company is represented, so it has to be clean, tidy, and consistent with the style that the company shows. If the company does not have a physical customer service location, employees must be comfortable and have the necessary elements available to provide the best assistance.
Importance of the customer service area
The customer service area is essential for all companies, as we have said before, to generate trust in our customers. A good customer service experience is a great indicator to retain all the people who buy our product or service.
Having good customer service implies several actions that must be taken into account, some of which we have named (excellent predisposition to solve a problem, providing answers to complaints, being available for the contact that customers try to achieve with the company, among others). One of the most important issues that deserve to be highlighted for good customer service is time.
The time for our customers is one of the most important indicators that we must take into account. Several studies show that customers expect to get a response within 5 minutes, if that does not happen, they will most likely feel dissatisfied and disappointed by the service. When our customers acquire our service and need to communicate with us, the ones who provide it need to do so at that moment and our best customer service must be available to attend to their query.
So, customer service is one of the most important sectors of our company, since good service helps to build customer loyalty, leaving them satisfied, and bad service can work against us, scaring away even potential customers.
About customer experience
When we talk about customer service, we can confuse the concept with that of "Customer Experience" which sounds like the same thing but, actually, it is not.
Although in both cases we are talking about a certain relationship that the customer has with our business, in the case of customer experience the relationship begins before customers have our product or service and also links them after having obtained it. Customer experience is the set of all the interactions that the customer has with our company and customer service is a part of this whole set.
What companies are looking for is to forge the best possible relationship with their customers, trying to provide them with high satisfaction so that they become loyal customers. This can be achieved with several actions, the company can try to provide the best product to customers, or help them meet their needs from the services we provide; Whatever the case, the most important thing is always to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition.
With the number of alternatives that the market presents today, one of the most important challenges that our company must face is to offer something new that no one else offers, to distinguish itself, to stand out, and thus be chosen by consumers. Excellent quality of customer service is key to achieving this. It is up to us to turn that challenge into an advantage, take advantage of that sector of our company to focus on, and give customers the best experience they can get in the market. That will make us different from those who offer the same product or service.