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What is Customer Service?

definition

Customer service is the process of providing assistance and advice to people who have purchased or who may want to purchase a good or service.

🤔 Understanding customer service

Customer service is the process of helping potential or existing customers buy or use a good or service. Customer service may be provided by dedicated personnel in the course of daily business. Automated systems — such as computerized phone directory systems that route customer calls to the correct department — also may be used to provide customer service. Customer service is often an end-user’s or buyer’s primary point of contact with a company. Companies will strive to improve customer service to increase brand loyalty and retain customers.

example

An example of a customer service job is a customer helpline operator at a software company. This person is employed to assist customers with any problems operating the software, to keep a customer’s experiences with the company pleasant and positive, and sometimes to sell the customer extra services.

Takeaway

Customer service is like a waiter or waitress at a restaurant...

Waiters serve customers in a restaurant by taking their orders and serving them food or drink. They also stand ready to assist the customer if he or she needs anything in the course of enjoying their meal. The waiter’s primary job is to help the restaurant’s customers and ensure that they have a positive experience — increasing the chances that they will return.

illo-customer service-desktop mobile

Tell me more...

What does customer service include?
What are the types of customer service? (Social media support, live chat support, etc.)
Why is customer service important, and how does it benefit a company?
What are the job requirements for customer service?
What skills are required?
How can employers reduce the cost of customer service?
What is the difference between customer service and customer support?

What does customer service include?

Customer service encompasses assisting customers who are interested in purchasing a good or service. Customer service also includes helping people who have already bought something.

Anything that affects a customer’s experience with a company and its goods or services is part of its overall customer service experience.

What are the types of customer service? (Social media support, live chat support, etc.)

One type of customer service is customer support. This is the type of service provided to customers who've already made a purchase but are having trouble with the item that they bought.

This type of customer service takes many forms. Sometimes, the customer service will happen in-person — for example, if someone brings their faulty computer to a helpdesk or back to the store where they purchased it.

It can also occur over the phone, such as when a person calls their credit card company to request a new card be issued to replace a lost card. Live chat support is also a popular way to get this kind of one-on-one help without a face-to-face meeting.

Customer support can even happen over social media, such as through Twitter chats or Facebook messages. Many companies will respond to people who mention issues with their company on social media, hoping to reduce negative publicity while assisting their customers at the same time.

Customer service can also happen before the customer makes a purchase. A sales associate for a retailer provides customer service before the customers have purchased any items. Their service enables the customer to make a purchase.

Why is customer service important, and how does it benefit a company?

Customer service is important to a company’s success for a few reasons.

One is that customer service makes it easier for customers to make their purchases. If someone is providing guidance to customers and answering their questions, it makes it that much easier for them to buy a good or service. It’s also a valuable way to differentiate from competitors. Good customer service can convince customers to buy from you rather than someone else.

After a purchase is made, customer service keeps customers happy and able to use the products that they’ve bought. This type of service is also useful for advertising, as companies can advertise that they support their products after they are sold. It also incentivizes repeat business, as customers who have a pleasant experience will want to come back for more — and maybe they will tell their friends.

Customer service can also reduce negative publicity. If a product breaks, a consumer may dissuade their friends from purchasing that product. If the company provides good support and makes the customer happy, it can prevent them from telling others not to make a purchase.

What are the job requirements for customer service?

The requirements for customer service jobs vary tremendously from company to company. But common denominators include: an ability to communicate with the customer clearly and a pleasant demeanor.

What skills are required?

Customer service requires multiple different skills.

Good customer service employees must have strong people skills. This includes empathy, emotional intelligence, and charisma. Customer service employees must be able to talk to people in a natural manner and become a trusted advisor for customers, even if they have never met the customer before. They must be able to determine why the customer is seeking service, even if the customer does not make their needs clear.

In many cases, customers are not able to articulate the problems they are experiencing or what they need help with. In these cases, the customer service employee must be able to investigate to determine the course of action that will best assist the customer.

Customer service jobs also typically require speaking to customers on the phone or over a computer chat service or email. Basic phone skills and computer skills, including strong typing, spelling, and grammar are important requirements for customer service jobs.

Customer service workers also have to be familiar with the goods and services that their company provides. For example, an employee at a Best Buy must have a familiarity with televisions, computers, electronics, sound systems, and the like. This will allow them to answer any questions that their customers may have. Specialization in a specific good or service the company provides may be valuable, especially if the customer service team has multiple members with different specialties.

How can employers reduce the cost of customer service?

Employers can reduce the cost of customer service in a few ways.

One option is automation. In the past, a human was needed to answer phone calls and route them to the proper department. Many companies now use automated phone trees where the customer answers prompts describing the assistance they need. The program that answers the phone then routes the call to the proper humans.

Similarly, companies have begun employing chatbots to assist customers over the internet. These bots can perform tasks such as checking the status of orders or answering basic product and service questions. More advanced requests can be routed to a human chat support representative.

Another way to reduce customer service costs is to build products that require less customer service. If a company’s products break less often, its customers will not need to seek support as often, reducing the need for customer service staff.

Providing self-service support options can also reduce the need for customer service staff. For example, producing an FAQ page and posting it to the company website can reduce the number of customer calls for questions answered in the FAQ.

Companies can also save on customer service costs by allowing their customer service team to work remotely, assuming the customer service employees are not providing face-to-face service. This cuts down on office costs while allowing the company to maintain a customer service team of the same size.

What is the difference between customer service and customer support?

The difference between customer service and customer support is small but important. Put simply: Customer service is the process that builds relationships with customers. Customer support is the process that maintains those relationships.

Customer service involves more than just solving a specific problem. It is a back and forth between customer and employee where the employee tries to analyze the customer’s needs and to help them maximize the value they get from a good or service. This could be anything from a sales representative advising a customer about the level of service they should purchase to a cashier who asks someone if they had trouble finding anything at the store that day.

Customer support employees help with customer service but are primarily concerned with solving a specific problem. Helping with individual issues is part of customer service, but does not encompass all aspects of customer service. It is more effective for maintaining relationships than building them, but it can play a role in building relationships as well.

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