Customer Service FAQ

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is all about providing a personalized, supportive experience for a customer throughout their relationship with your company. That includes the first time they interact with your company, through the consideration stage, purchase, and onward. Historically, companies have viewed customer service as a necessary cost, but forward-looking companies recognize that a great customer service team adds value you customers will appreciate.

What Is Customer Service?

How do you define customer service?

Customer service is “the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you.”

What is considered customer service?

Customer service comes in many different forms and can include written assistance, such as an FAQ page on your website. It also makes use of technological tools, such as a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and human interaction, such as interactions with a live support representative who’s available by phone or email, or through social media platforms.

What does customer service mean to you?

Customer service is a critical part of a consumer’s experience with a brand. In fact, 84 per cent of customers report that the experience they have with a company is as important as its products and services. Positive customer service experiences breed loyalty, while poor customer service can result in high customer churn. In a world where 89 per cent of companies compete primarily on customer experience, great customer service can be a key driver to a company’s overall success.  

A good customer experience builds loyalty among customers and avoids costly churn. Well-trained and empowered customer service representatives can also upsell and cross-sell customers to improve a business’s bottom line.

Providing great customer service is a challenge that continues to grow in complexity as customer expectations continue to rise. To improve their customer service, companies need to be nimble and accessible and give their customer service teams the support they need to excel. A growing number of companies are also using customer service solutions powered by AI to scale support and perform routine tasks so human representatives can focus on taking care of customers.

What is Customer Service Experience?

Customer service experience is the level of support customers receive from your company, including before and after they purchase a product or service. “Today, end-to-end customer experience is the competitive differentiator, and customer service teams have unprecedented opportunity to elevate their role in the broader business.”

This impacts your bottom line. The State of the Connected Consumer states that 59 per cent of consumers and 82 per cent of business buyers “are willing to pay more for a great experience.” 

What is a Customer Service Representative?

A customer service representative is an employee who provides support and problem-solving assistance to your customers. When a customer calls in with a question, opens a chat window to request a return, or posts a message about your company on their social media page, your customer service representatives are on the other side of the interaction responding to the customer’s needs.

Your customer service agents are some of the most visible and important representatives of your company. In fact, “78 per cent of service professionals say their company views agents as customer advocates, and 75 per cent view them as brand ambassadors.”

What are Customer Service Skills?

Customer service skills are the knowledge, abilities, and methods your customer service representatives use to interact with and help customers.

Providing excellent customer service can be challenging at times. Your reps are human, after all. This is where your hiring standards come into play. The best customer service representatives have:

  • The ability to actively listen to a customer

  • The ability to empathize with the customer and their situation

  •  A strong knowledge of your company’s products and services

  • A deep well of patience

  • The ability to speak clearly and confidently

  • Good people skills

  • The ability to connect on a personal level with customers

Customer service representatives don’t acquire these skills, abilities, and knowledge overnight. They require ongoing training, as well as strong support within the company. In order to keep your company competitive, your customer service agents should be “increasingly tasked with building relationships and driving revenue” and, thanks to technology, “swapping their mundane tasks for challenging, high-value work.”

Empower your customer service representatives. Help them provide great experiences for their customers in order to build a loyal following among your customers and serve as a model for others in your industry. With a combination of customer service skills and company backing, your customer service agents will thrive.

Do you know how to provide excellent customer service?

Your customer service agents work on the front lines of your business. They personally connect with your customers who are seeking information or assistance. These interactions are critical and can build invaluable loyalty. 

As customer expectations increase, businesses need to continually review, adapt, and improve their service systems. Here are four tips that will help you improve your business’s customer service.

  • Provide real-time or “always on” service. A growing contingent of customers expect immediate help, and 71 per cent of customers “expect companies to communicate with them in real time.” Investigate ways your company can immediately respond to your customers. 

  • Create personalized customer service experiences. Customers don’t want to deal with phone trees or repeat their story to different customer service reps. Seventy per cent of customers consider connected processes, including seamless handoffs and contextualized engagements, to be very important to winning their business. Invest in software and technology that allows representatives across your company to see a complete, shared view of every customer and interaction. Research shows that catering to an omnichannel audience is becoming part of the standard for excellent customer service. 

  • Provide proactive solutions. Customers want companies to anticipate their needs and make suggestions before the customer even has to contact them. Amazon is famously good at this with their “Also Bought” or “You Might Also Like” suggestion engine. 

  • Measure customer service experiences. It’s necessary for business owners to know how to measure good customer service. It’s not enough to track average handle time for your customer service representatives — this surface-level metric may have little or no bearing on the quality of your customer service. Track much more comprehensive customer service metrics, including customer satisfaction, employee experience, agent case volume, customer attrition, agent-driven revenue, and more. These numbers can help you determine areas of weakness and strength in your customer service department. Monitor your analytics and develop data-based protocols and processes to improve customer service. 

Do Customer Service Expectations Continually Escalate?

Customer service expectations continue to rise. In fact, 69 per cent of consumers and 82 per cent of business buyers say that “one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies.” By offering excellent customer service, your company can set the standard.

Today’s customers want to receive real-time customer support through their preferred channel of communication. And it’s not just enough to just get an answer to their question: They want companies to care about them and treat them as individuals. Sixty-four per cent of customers consider tailored engagements based on their past interactions to be important to winning their business again.

How do companies stack up to these increasing demands? There’s definitely room for improvement. Companies need to look closely at their customer service systems and provide their representatives with the tools, training, and freedom to create great customer experiences. 

What is AI Customer Service?

Artificial intelligence is already a part of consumers’ lives. It helps people drive more safely, allows consumers to order groceries from their watches, and even plays a listener’s favorite song upon a simple vocal request. It’s no wonder that AI can also play a role in providing customer service to your customers.

Currently, only 24 per cent of companies actively use artificial intelligence for customer service, but over half of all service organizations are actively considering ways to incorporate AI into their business processes. The prevalence of AI in customer service roles will likely increase 143 per cent over the next 18 months.

Customer service technology equipped with AI benefits its human counterparts. Rather than replacing human customer service representatives with artificial intelligence, many companies use AI to offload manual tasks. For example, an AI chatbot can help answer common or basic questions, such as a store’s operating hours, which saves an employee time and opens more time for them to handle more challenging situations where a thorough, personalized response is required. 

AI customer service capabilities already set companies apart and help them provide excellent customer service. It’s no surprise that high-performing service organizations are 2.9x more likely than underperformers to use AI.

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