If you want to build a world-class product, the experience must include a world-class customer service. You can create the fastest, the most efficient or the cheapest product. If something is broken or unclear and your customer doesn't know who to turn to, he won't buy from you anytime some. Let's try to explore what makes of a great customer service.
Let's start by a definition.
"Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation."
from Turban, Efraim (2002). Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-185461-5.
To this, I would also add that customer service includes support(activities to help the user get the best of your product) and interactions before and during the sale process.
Efficient Customer Service
Before aiming at a world-class customer service, it is best to ensure you already propose an efficient one.
When customers reach out, you want to be efficient so that they don't have to complain about the quality.
A customer needs a fast response with the right answer in a clear way.
Depending on the phase your customer is at, and how much he depends on the product, you should be able to answer fast to any query. There are queries of different complexity. Yet, when they ask for information easily available, they shouldn't have to wait for a day. Don't hesitate to communicate early in the process if any delay occurs. Just do not assume it's fine for them to wait.
Failure to provide the right answer happens. Yet, the odds of this happening should be reduced as much as possible. It is best to ensure you are the most fit person to answer the question. If you communicate about the fact you are getting the right answer from the right person, you customer will understand. It's always best to make them wait than answering too fast with a wrong answer.
In a Clear Way
Don't use complicated terms or jargon. Your user wants an intelligible answer. Don't hesitate to use images, point to important details and be didactic. Your user doesn't have the same level of knowledge about the product or the industry.
So that's what customers are expecting from an "efficient" customer service.
Now let's talk about achieving a great one.
Customer Service as Part of the Experience
When a customer interacts with you, it is the beginning of a conversation and an occasion to tighten the relationship. You should consider your service as being part of the whole experience the company provides.
In "Delivering Happiness", Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, explains the success of his company with their ability to "Wow" customers. They regularly upgrade people to one-day delivery or solve problems by offering products. Each interaction should be considered as an occasion to "Wow" customers. This is a way to get them into your experience.
A great quote from Maya Angelou is particularly adequate for this :
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A Source of Insights
In your customer service interactions, there are a lot of insights to help you improve your whole experience. For example, a potential customer not understanding one of the benefits from a landing page can be an hint of an unclear copy. This is an insight for the marketing team.
Someone struggling with the use of a given feature could be a sign that something is not clear in the product. This is an insight for the product team.
Some customers experiencing slow performance is a sign that something might be faulty in the conception. This is an insight for the reliability team.
Sometimes, it can be an occasion to learn about problems customers are experiencing in their industry and not (yet!) concerning the product. These interactions can lead to customer development sessions. These are helpful to provide insights in future product development.
Some Appreciation from the Customers
Providing a great customer service inside an experience is a first step to get appreciation. It is important that the customer service team pass it on the product team so they know people value their work. It's about fueling the product team with energy and trigger a virtuous circle.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you enjoyed it and would love to hear your take on what is a great customer service in the comments. If you enjoyed this article, please don't hesitate to share it.