The following guide aims to become a single, streamlined source of information covering customer service basics, theories and practical advice. Everyone involved in customer service – from frontline support reps to service managers - can benefit from this guide and use it as a helpful resource for free training in help desk, ticketing, call center, and live chat capabilities.
Customer service definition
What does the modern definition of customer service mean? Customer service can be broadly defined as the support and assistance businesses offer to their customers – before, during and after they purchase and use their products or services. Quality customer service adds great value to a product and helps build long-lasting relationships with customers.
Today’s customer service, however, implies much more than traditional phone support. Rapid tech advancements reshaped the way businesses interact with customers and created the proliferation of digital service channels. Receiving fast (preferably real-time), efficient, personalized support and a seamless experience regardless of the communication channel used, is what consumers generally expect from brands when it comes to customer service.
Why customer service should be a top priority for any business
As consumer expectations are on the rise, delivering excellent service is one of the most valuable things a business can do to stay competitive and successful in the long run. Numerous studies have proved that happy customers are more loyal and spend more, while those experiencing bad service abandon brands which costs them revenue and affects their reputation. Below are some of the most recent stats demonstrating the importance of providing outstanding customer service:
- Poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year, with 42% of consumes reporting leaving a business due to inadequate customer service. However, 55% of consumers would be more loyal if they were provided with better customer service.
- For 95% of respondents, customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand, and 61% have switched brands due to poor customer service.
- Consumer expectations for service via digital channels continues to increase - 81% of consumers indicated that their expectations for digital customer service are higher today than they were a year ago.
- One in three consumers are willing to pay more to receive a higher level of customer service.
- Two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay for great customer service and 31% are willing to pay as much as 10% more for exceptional service.
- 97% of consumers say bad customer service changes buying behavior, 87% say good customer service changes buying behavior, and 46% continue to change their buying behavior two years after a bad customer service experience.
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10 Major reasons to invest in customer service initiatives
- Customer service expectations are constantly increasing and changing
- Consumers value high quality service and are ready to pay more to receive it
- Customer service can significantly influence consumers’ buying decisions
- Good customer service helps increase customer satisfaction, improve customer relations and retention
- Happy consumers tend to share their positive service experiences creating positive word-of-mouth for brands
- Outstanding customer service can turn customers into brand advocates which bring in more traffic and referrals
- Consumers are not willing to tolerate bad service and easily leave brands that fail to meet their service expectations
- Unsatisfied customers can damage a brand’s reputation by sharing their negative service experiences through social networks and review sites
- Investing in service improvement is cheaper than dealing with damaged reputation caused by bad service
- High quality customer service ultimately results in continued revenue growth
What is customer service training and who needs it?
Customer service training refers to teaching customer service employees the knowledge, competencies, tools and skills required to serve and support customers; to derive more value from a company’s products and services.
Since the quality of customer service a business offers will never exceed the quality of the people providing it - no matter how talented and experienced service employees might be, there will always be more to learn and new skills to be developed. In fact, any customer-facing employee whose job entails interacting with customers either personally or online, should undergo basic customer service training. In addition to service representatives, this could also include other positions such as technical support and sales representatives.
The importance of customer support training
Customer service employees are usually the first point of contact consumers have with a brand. They are literally those who create the first impressions that impact your customer's perception of the company. Incompetent, untrained, or poorly trained service agents are not likely to deliver great service. On the other hand, when customer service is executed well by properly trained employees, it results in increased customer satisfaction and improved customer experience. That’s why training customer support teams is just as important as training marketing and sales teams.
Best customer service training enables service employees to effectively meet the expectations of highly-demanding, tech-savvy consumers. Moreover, investing in training gives employees a feeling of value, improves their morale and motivation. And when employees feel valued, they value their customers and are willing to go the extra mile for them.
Customer service has become a key brand differentiator helping businesses stand out from the competition in the oversaturated market of similar products and services. Some of the world’s most known customer-centric brands like Amazon, Zappos, Ritz-Carlton, and Southwest Airlines, spend a big share of their earnings on delivering excellent customer service and training their employees to consistently provide great experiences-- and their success proves that it’s worth the investment.