What are some good examples of customer service

Definition of customer service and competencies for 2021 and beyond

Customer service is about taking full care of customers, learning the key customer service competencies, types and requirements.

By Tara Ramroop, Senior Content Marketing Manager

Published November 13, 2018
Last updated: January 14, 2021

The quality of customer service can make or break a company. But there is no agreement on exactly how to provide good customer service. In this guide, we'll show you how to prepare your company for successful customer service.

How is customer service defined?

Customer service is understood to mean "the support and advice that a company offers to those people who buy or use its products or services", according to a definition by Lexico. It also includes the processes to support the teams that provide customer service.

For most people, customer service is something that takes place when you approach a company with a problem. But that's only one side of the coin.

Customer service isn't just what happens when a customer calls you or sends you an email. The following situations also fall under customer service:

What is good customer service?

Ultimately, it is the human aspects that characterize good customer service. Customers expect quick responses on the channels of their choice. But that is the bare minimum. To deliver a compelling customer experience, companies need to make customers feel valued. For example, if a customer has to keep repeating himself while being passed back and forth between different departments, or if he's stuck in a queue for a long time, he certainly doesn't feel that his time is being respected.

Great customer service is when a company exceeds a customer's expectations. This can include providing proactive support, anticipating customer needs, or anticipating a problem before it even occurs. It can also mean going the extra mile to build authentic customer relationships.

For example, the Zappos Customer Loyalty Team is empowered to do whatever it takes to build real human relationships with customers. “Our customer loyalty team will be on the phone with you until your request has been dealt with. Our record is 10 hours and 51 minutes! But we make calls that last around two hours every day, ”explains Harmoni Hines, Senior Manager, Customer Loyalty Team at Zappos. “One of the ten core values ​​at Zappos is to build a positive and familiar team spirit, because customers are like family to us. We want you to feel that way when you turn to us. "

Great customer service also means that consumers are ready to share their experience with others. This can be measured by tracking and analyzing key metrics such as customer satisfaction scores (CSAT).

The difference between customer service and customer support

There is definitely a difference between customer service and customer support. If customer support is the "how", e.g. For example, the basic steps to troubleshooting a bug, customer service is the “why”: why is it recommended to set up a cloud account in a certain way, or why this morning's little problem can become a much bigger problem if certain Steps are omitted.

While a customer support team can fix a technical problem in a short amount of time, good customer service helps build relationships and create a true partnership over the long term. When the "why" aspect is incorporated into the support process, the customer experience improves and your agents become increasingly knowledgeable.

If you're feeling a little intimidated right now, you are not alone. But don't worry, we have summarized all the relevant information for you.

The two types of customer service you should know about

Each channel could theoretically be thought of as its own type of customer service, but in reality there are only two types of customer service your company can offer: proactive and reactive.

Proactive or reactive support

In the past, reactive support was the standard: a company waits for a customer to contact them with a query or problem. Proactive engagement is a new and better form of customer service. It means anticipating your customers' problems and addressing them before your customers have to. Examples:

  • An e-commerce company avoids abandoned carts by using a chatbot on the checkout page to answer frequently asked customer questions.
  • An Internet provider informs customers about upcoming service interruptions in an SMS.

Why is customer service important in business?

Customer service is important because it helps your company differentiate itself from the competition. Customer service can keep people loyal to your brand, products and services for years to come.

However, this is only possible if your company gives customer service the highest priority - otherwise your customers will end up willing to compromise. According to the Zendesk report on customer experience trends 2020 around half of customers switch to the competition after just one bad experience. If there is more than one bad experience, this number jumps to 80 percent.

Half are ready to move on to the competition after just one bad experience. If there is more than one bad experience, this number jumps to 80 percent.

What are the three most important things in customer service?

Customer service looks a little different in every company, but it always follows a simple rule: It's all about creating value for the people who use your product or service. Your product may be the yellow of the egg, but that's irrelevant unless it's coupled with good customer service.

We now know what the three most important things in customer service are:

1. Be empathetic

Real empathy for new and existing customers is a must for good customer service, as thoughtful and efficient answers are becoming increasingly important.

Empathetic action can take different forms:

  • Serving customers on the channels they prefer to use in order to make their lives as easy as possible: According to the Zendesk report on customer experience trends, real-time support around the clock is an absolute must for 42% of all customers. So companies should give their customers the choice of when and where to contact them.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of an angry customer.
  • Listen to customer feedback and use it to continuously improve.

2. Give agents the tools to quickly and effectively resolve customer problems

Customer service software contains all of the tools your employees need to deliver world-class support. For example, in the agent workspace in the Zendesk Support Suite:

  • Context on all channels
  • Customer service agents rely on context, e.g. B. Contact information, preferences and account type of a customer so that he does not have to repeat himself over and over or hang on hold forever while the agent looks up this information.

  • Collaboration tools
  • When agents have collaboration tools, such as the ability to leave and view internal notes without leaving a conversation, or integrations with email and Slack to share best practices across departments, they can quickly give customers the best answers to their questions give.

  • Workflows, Triggers, and Automation
  • These make interactions with customers more efficient, save support resources and ensure faster problem resolution.

3. Demonstrate that customer service is important across the company

Customer service is everyone's business - not just something that affects customer support teams and other frontline workers. Companies with strong customer service are proving that the customer experience matters to the entire company - every step of the way. This includes:

  • the authenticity of a company's marketing campaigns
  • the transparency of the pricing models
  • the smoothness of the sales cycle
  • the quality of the product or service
Set your support organization up for success

The goals of customer service

The main goal of customer service is to answer customer questions quickly and effectively, solve problems sensitively and carefully, improve brand credibility, and cultivate relationships.

Support teams can measure goals using the following key metrics:

  • Average time to first answer
  • Average solution time
  • Customer satisfaction rating of a customer over time
  • Customer satisfaction ratings by channel
  • Backlog of tickets

When customer service teams are in control of their direct goals, they help achieve the company's cross-functional goals:

  • Better customer loyalty
  • Greater customer loyalty
  • Higher customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Less customer churn
  • Creating a better customer experience

What is the golden rule of customer service?

Most customer service objectives are tied to a metric. But the golden rule of customer service comes down to understanding what a customer needs and doing what you can to make them happy.

If a customer call lasts longer than it should because an agent was having a friendly conversation or going above and beyond for that customer, that's great service — even if the resolution time was high.

If a prospect is reaching out to support to get more information about a product and the agent is understanding, efficient, and helpful that prospect is going to remember the experience as a positive one — even if they never become a paying customer.

Key Customer Service Skills (And How To Develop Them)

Customer service skills and traits are nothing more than the qualities and skills a customer service representative needs to do their job properly. Customer service managers tend to prioritize technical skills when hiring staff. Technical know-how is important, but soft skills are just as important.

These are the most important customer service skills your employees need:

  1. Ability to reflect the client's language choice and tone of voice

    By reflecting a customer's language and tone of voice, you can create a sense of connectedness.

    However, if a customer is upset, you should choose a different tone. Remember, if you keep calm, you will infect the customer. Stay calm and do everything you can to cool the customer's heated mind by a few degrees. Customers respond when the person offering help keeps their head clear.

    For more tips on dealing with disgruntled customers, check out this Forbes article.

    With live chat, answers are often short, quick and incomplete. This makes it harder for you and the customer to understand each other's tone of voice. Therefore, choose your words carefully and rather be overly careful and overly clear. Avoid puns or regional idioms.

    Instead, use a calm and matter-of-fact tone. When dealing with a frustrated customer, patience is best served.

  2. Active listening

    When customers are angry or frustrated, they are often particularly difficult to understand. In this case, it is not a good idea to frantically seek a solution.

    It is better that you show empathy. Remember: Both you and the customer want a complete solution, not just a stopgap.

    Stressed customers need the feeling that they are being noticed. Make it clear to them that you understand why they are calling. A little compassion goes a long way in defusing a potentially explosive situation.

  3. Clear communication

    Nobody likes to be on hold, especially not knowing how long it will take to finally reach someone.

    When customers call or start a live chat, instantly let them know how long to wait. This can make them feel that they care about their concerns.

  4. Interpersonal skills

    The best customer service templates are more than just prepackaged text that customer service agents use to copy and paste. They're the starting point for high-quality, personalized responses so account managers can build real, human relationships with customers.

    Start with a template and then customize it before replying to the customer. This makes your answer appear more personal to the customer.

    It's perfectly okay to bring in your own voice and personality. Just make sure you are accurately reflecting your company's brand and philosophy. For example, you can customize your email signature.

  5. multitasking

    Live chat agents are expected to have multiple chats at the same time. That alone is a challenge. Good multitaskers never lose sight of the bigger picture as questions come crashing down on them. Be careful not to have too many chats at the same time, otherwise your customers will have to wait too long for answers. You can always put a chat on hold if you need more time to find an answer. But just like with telephone support, you have to tell the customer how long they expect to wait. For example, ask For example, see if you can pause them briefly to investigate further.

  6. Attention to detail

    Sometimes a customer finds it difficult to express themselves in writing. Therefore, do not read too quickly or jump to conclusions. It takes practice to grasp the nuances of communicating with different customers. But that is exactly what helps you achieve success in customer service.

    For example, a sales rep appears confident or even aggressive at times, while an engineer needs complex technical details to see a problem as solved.

    The ability to correctly interpret certain cues gives employees a better idea of ​​how to help.

  7. attention

    Always respond to customer social media posts, especially when someone needs help. You may not have an answer right away. But it is still important to establish initial contact with the respective customer quickly and to let them know when you will give a more detailed answer. A quick response also means that you should politely and accurately address the customer's problem.

    The exception is when someone tries to break a fight on a public channel. Such comments are often aimed directly at the company. It can be tempting to get involved with the person if the subject is very close to your heart. But no company can afford a customer service agent or employee to make a mistake on social media. So always be careful when replying publicly.

  8. Good cooperation

    In order to answer a customer question, it is often necessary to work with other teams or departments. Is replying to a social media post a customer support thing, or is it a marketing thing? Sometimes it's hard to say.

    If your marketing team is responsible for social media, make sure they reach out to the customer service team for help with incoming support requests. Remember, everyone is responsible for good customer service. Therefore, your employees must be able to work in a team.

Agents need customer service skills specific to each support channel

The best employee in customer service is someone who can switch between individual channels quickly and with concentration. It also means solving problems using the skills that are best for each channel. Work on your ability to be empathetic and communicate your product knowledge with customers. This is how you become a star in customer service.

Many support teams offer service through multiple channels. Each channel requires different skills.

  • Phone support: How’s your "phone voice"?

Emotions are difficult to hide. You can also hear it in the voice. Customer service reps know how frustration and anger transmit over the phone. This communication goes both ways, of course. When customer service agents read a script on the phone, it is important to pay attention to the tone of voice.

To provide good phone support, here are some things to look for:

  • Mirror a customer's language and tone
  • Listen first, then validate the problem
  • Communicate hold times
  • Email support: You are not a robot

To provide convincing email support, you need good writing skills. Email responses require more structure and precision than other forms of support. You need to write clearly and concisely, avoiding mistakes that could confuse the customer.

To provide good email support, here are some things to look out for:

  • Use templates, not boilerplates
  • Respond in a defined timeframe
  • Imitate a customer’s phrasing
  • Chat support: multitasking is a key skill

Good live chat support requires both telephone and email skills. Chat is a kind of dialogue that takes place in real time, just like customer service over the phone. When chatting, however, you must also be able to express yourself well in writing.

Every live chat agent should pay attention to these points:

  • Use a gentle, informative tone
  • Multitask
  • Read customer cues
  • Fast support is required on social media and via SMS

A combination of the above skills is required for support via social media and messaging. When live chat isn't available, customers often use the same channels they use to communicate with family and friends. Channels like SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter direct messages are quick and convenient.

The use of messaging is constantly increasing. Zendesk's benchmark snapshot shows that global usage of WhatsApp alone has increased 154% worldwide since the outbreak of COVID-19 - the highest increase of any customer support channel.

The following skills are essential for support on social media:

  • (Almost) always respond
  • React carefully to confrontation
  • Differentiate social media tickets to determine whether they should be handled by the support or marketing team

What skills should you include on your resume for a job in customer service?

Customer service agents need all of the above skills to do their jobs well. Employers are particularly interested in the following skills and qualities:

  1. Experience in a customer service-oriented environment
  2. Excellent problem-solving skills and creativity in dealing with challenges
  3. Attention to detail and excellent time management
  4. Great interest in building strong relationships
  5. Clear, effective communication and good interpersonal skills
  6. Anticipation of customer needs through constant analysis of customer statements
  7. Conviction that the customer really is king
  8. Always calm even under pressure
  9. Multitasker even in a demanding environment
  10. Self-motivated with a positive attitude
  11. Empathy for customers to promote customer satisfaction
  12. Willingness to learn what you don't know yet
  13. Enthusiasm for the industry in which the company operates
  14. Experience in using customer service software, such as B. Zendesk Support to track and manage customer conversations

Responsibilities and work requirements in customer service

The primary responsibilities of a customer service rep often include the following:

  • Direct interaction with customers on all communication channels
  • Defusing risky situations by listening and providing effective solutions quickly
  • Competent customer care at the forefront as the "voice of the company"
  • Continuous updating of customer data
  • Exchange customer feedback with other teams to improve the customer experience
  • Cancellation and updating of accounts
  • Help with refunds or exchanges
  • Creation of content for the knowledge base

The job requirements also vary depending on how a company defines customer service and how the customer service team works within the company.

Some teams refer to customer service agents as “account managers,” while others use special fantasy names to emphasize their special role in the company. Examples:

  • GoFundMe calls its customer service team "Customer Happiness" and calls its customer service staff "Happiness Agents".
  • These happiness agents have to go through an intensive training program because they often help people in difficult situations where a human touch is particularly important.

  • BaubleBar has a "SWAT team": "Service with Accessorizing Talent".
  • The name underscores the huge impact that the customer service team has on the customer experience; for example, members of the SWAT team proactively send emails to customers to remind them of abandoned carts or to find out how they liked a recently purchased item .

  • At Nordstrom, the customer service employees are called “Personal Stylists”, “Beauty Stylists”, “Wedding Stylists” and “Designer Specialists”.
  • Aside from the usual skills, Nordstrom agents must have a keen sense of fashion.

  • Shopify refers to its support agents as gurus.
  • Why? Because the customer service agents at Shopify have hands-on experience building a community of executives. According to Shopify, a guru is a mixture of a librarian and a business coach.

  • Birchbox has a team of discovery specialists.
  • The Discovery specialists handle everything from answering calls, emails, and social media messages to managing subscriptions and monitoring the quality control of all deliveries.

While customer service agents may have different names and slightly different roles, they all have one thing in common: They are on the front lines and communicate directly with customers. Whether you are a specialist or a guru, some of these phrases are sure to sound familiar:


Customer service training activities

Many customer service employees have a good mix of the skills described above. Nevertheless, extensive training in customer service should be carried out on an ongoing basis.

It can be hard to find a time slot that suits you. But training becomes more and more important as more companies implement their own omnichannel experiences, and they need flexible agents who can provide service on multiple channels.

On the human side, training and assigning different projects helps keep agents from getting bored at work. As Brummel says: "If you don't give employees the opportunity to continue their education, they quickly burn out."

Customer service managers can help keep their employees engaged and constantly learning with projects like the following:

  • Technical product documentation
  • Creation of content for the knowledge database

Customer satisfaction surveys also help agents get feedback on what they are doing well and what else they can work on.

Customer service books to share with your team

Here is a list of customer service books to help teams build their skills and deliver a truly compelling customer experience:

In this way you ensure that the customer remains the focus

Customer service skills and training will help you never lose sight of the customer. Customers need to know that their needs are taken seriously across the company. Every team should focus on the customer.

To show customers that they matter, take their feedback seriously. Even if you:

  • Have complaints
  • Demand new functions
  • Change your communication preferences

Shared data access within the company is another way of getting better and better in this area. In this way, every employee in the company can offer an even more personal customer experience.

From an operational point of view, it may have previously made sense that a different team with its own software solution was responsible for each support channel. But such an internal structure often results in data silos, and that is bad for customers.

Team A may only know certain things about the customer, such as: B. his order history or his preferences for marketing emails. Team B, in turn, knows about other things, such as problems the customer had with a particular product. But that means that nobody has a complete view of the customer. And the customer notices when nobody is really concentrating on them.

Learn more about building an effective customer focus strategy in this blog post.

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