Customer Service Management: Guidelines and Resources
Although there is a conventional difference between the terms “customer”
and “client,” this topic refers to “customers” as meaning
both. Also, although a product is a tangible offering and a service is an intangible
offering, this topic often refers to “products” as meaning both. The
activities of customer service apply to any type and size of organization, so
the term “organization” refers to that wide variety. Before reading
this topic, you might read about the Relationship
Between Managing Supply Chain, Operations, Quality, Customer Relationships and
Sections of This Topic Include
Understanding Customers and Service
Preparing for Providing Great Customer Service
Satisfying Your Customers
Retaining Your Customers
UNDERSTAND CUSTOMERS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
In the past, an organization was expected to provide a product or service to
the customer, and then that transaction was done — the activity was done to
the customer. The customer was more or less at the mercy of the organization.
Today, that is changing dramatically. Customers have a much wider range of
organizations, products and services to choose from, and they can access them
instantly. Customers can also access numerous sources of useful opinions or
reviews about the product or service even before they buy them.
Thus, it is more important than ever that organizations remain very good at
attracting, satisfying and retaining customers. Customer service has moved beyond
being merely transactional to being highly relational.
Before we continue, we should get clear on what we are talking about. Different
terms mean different things to different people. Here is a broad and useful
definition of customer:
- “In sales, commerce and economics, a customer (sometimes known as a
client, buyer, or purchaser) is the recipient of a good, service, product
or an idea – obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier via a financial transaction
or exchange for money or some other valuable consideration.” Wikipedia
A customer becomes a consumer once the recipient begins to use the product
or service. A client is a recipient who buys services from an organization,
particularly a professional service. For example, nonprofit organizations typically
use the term “client” to refer to anyone who benefits from their products
The topic of customers and customer service can seem so broad that it is difficult
to get a good grasp on understanding them and how to best serve them. It helps
a great deal to understand that there are different types of customers. You
should recognize them, prioritize them and use that ranking in your product
development, sales, marketing and customer service.
Types of Customers
5 Types of
Customers and How to Approach Them (Pt1)
7 Types of Customers
and How to Convert Each of Them
The 11 Universal
Types of Customers You Need to Know
Organizations can have internal and external customers. An example of a internal
customer is a department in an organization that receives services from another
department. For example, the Human Resource Department might get its budget
managed — that is, serviced — by the Finance Department. An example of an
external customer is a person who buys shoes from a shoe store.
Your organization, regardless of its type or size, cannot survive unless it
is meeting the needs of its customers. There is a saying in marketing that customers
come to a product or service based on what they want, but they stay based on
what they need.
However, there is a vast array of different types of needs that different types
of customers have. Also, customers’ needs can change rapidly as they grapple
to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Similar to knowing the types of customers above, it helps to understand the
different overall types of needs that they have. What different types (segments)
of customers do you have based on their different needs? What types of needs
are each of your products and services meeting for each segment? What types
do you want to serve instead or in addition to?
16 Types of Customer
Needs (and How to Solve for Them)
Six Basic Needs of Customers
Four Needs of a Customer
19 Types of Customer
There is a difference between knowing the typical needs of customers compared
to actually meeting their needs. To begin meeting those needs, it is important
to consider what different types of customers typically value in meeting their
own needs. To some customers, value is the lowest price. To others, value represents
prestige. To others, it represents long-lasting quality. What do your customers
value the most from the products and services? How does that value differentiate
you from your competitors? Write your unique
What is Customer Value?
30 Things Your Customers Value Most
Harvard Business Review Top 30 Customer Values
Types of Value a Product Offers to a Customer
In the past, customer service usually meant being understanding and courteous
to your customers while they were buying your product. However, today’s customers
are much more demanding and competition is much stronger. Consequently, it is
much more useful to consider customer service to be the type of support that
you offer before, during and after your customers buy from you. Many companies
today are highly competitive primarily because of the very high quality of their
is Customer Service?
4 Types of Customer Service and How to Use Them
of Customer Service: Pros and Cons
Types Of Customers Services – Customer Service Channels
PREPARE FOR PROVIDING STRONG CUSTOMER SERVICE
The implementation of the guidelines in each this section should be managed
by an Implementation Team comprised of at least one member from general management,
and management in the functions of sales, marketing and customer service.
Be Systematic in Your Planning
Strong customer service is so vital to the surviving — and thriving — of
your organization that it should not be done in a reactive and sporadic approach.
Instead, it needs to be done proactively from a well designed customer service
management plan. Think about the
- Inputs to the system, such as best practices in customer service, sales
and marketing; computer technologies; funding; and human resources
- Ongoing processes to sustain great customer service, such as clarifying
customers’ needs, meeting or exceeding those needs, getting feedback, managing
complaints, and overall managing customer relationships
- Outputs from the system, such as useful reports about customers’ needs and
activities, and more highly skilled employees in providing customer service
- Outcomes, the greatest of all including increased customer satisfaction
Establish Customer Service Goals
- Consider your organization’s overall strategic priorities. For example,
does your organization want especially to increase sales and profits, increase
impact in the community (if yours is a nonprofit), expand marketshare and/or
reduce customer complaints?
- Then consider the different types of customers that you have (market segments)
and how you want to manage each differently in order to help achieve your
organization’s goals. For example, do you want to focus even more on the most
profitable customers? Reduce the types that generate the least revenues? Expand
marketing to new customers to expand marketshare?
- Then consider where to focus in your customer service activities in each
group. For example, better tools to get feedback from customers, starting
a call center, starting a new customer service manager position and/or use
more social media?
Be Realistic In Your Planning
Especially if yours is a small to medium-sized organization, or if this is
your first time in being focused and intentional about customer service, then
be very realistic about your planning. For the first draft of your plan, focus
on its most basic elements and then embellish the plan as you implement the
plan during its first year.
Service Business Plan Template
Your Business Needs a Customer Service Plan
Steps to Creating a Superior Customer Service Plan
to Create a Customer Service Plan
to Create a Customer Service Plan
Do to Planning
Great customer service is a mindset. It is a way of thinking, prioritizing
and planning about customers in an organization. It guides how decisions are
made and how problems are solved regarding customers. When many people in an
organization have that mindset, then the organization has a customer service
and customer-centric culture. In that culture, organizations always “partner”
with customers to ensure a great customer experience — they always solicit
feedback from customers in order to exceed their expectations.
Research shows that long-lasting, successful change in an organization usually
requires a change in its culture. Unless the culture begins to change, it does
not matter how much advice and many tools that the organization gets. A change
in culture will determine whether they are actually used or not.
Exactly is a Service Culture?
To Create A Customer Service Culture
Ways to Create a Customer Service Culture
Does the Term “Service Culture” Mean & How Do Companies Develop
a Service Culture?
Build a Strong Customer Service Culture (Without Copying Disney)
Strong customer service requires well developed knowledge and expertise. It
requires skills in building
trust, having empathy
for others, listening,
asking thoughtful questions
and sharing feedback.
These skills do not come easily for most people. Therefore, arrange highly practical
trainings for your employees — trainings that match their busy schedules and
trainings that include practice sessions.
Ultimate Guide to Training for Customer Service & Support
to Train Staff On Good Customer Service: Tips for Managers
How to Train
Your Employees in Customer Service
Customer Service Training Tips Your Employees Need To Learn
Tips for Effective Customer Service Training
Training and Development
SATISFY YOUR CUSTOMERS
One of the biggest mistakes that an organization can make is to assume that
all of its customers are the same. The power of excellent sales, marketing and
customer service comes from realizing that different types of customers have
different types of needs. Do you have different groups of customers who have
different needs? How do you know? Do some need prompt provision of products
rather than ordering online? Self-maintainance rather than ongoing support?
Basic functionality rather than high-quality? Consider the different groups
to be different market segments.
Your Customers’ Needs
Methods for Identifying Customer Needs
and Meeting Customer Needs
Questions to Ask Your Customers to Know Their Needs and Expectations
to Conduct Market Research
Different market segments have different needs. They have different interpretations
of value — of what will meet their needs. To remain viable, your organization
has to be meeting the different needs of its different market segments. How
do you best meet the needs of each different market segments? How do you know?
Customers’ Needs Are Changing. Are You Keeping Up?
Focus First On Meeting
Customers’ Needs, Not On Delighting Them
is Customer Value and How Can You Create It?
Customer Value: What it Means
and How to Create It
Customers Have These 30 Needs. Are You Meeting Them?
The way to ensure that your organization is meeting the needs of its customers
comes especially from their feedback. According to Barb
Lyon, there are many different ways to ask: post-purchase and post-support
surveys, enclosures in the monthly invoice, follow-up phone calls and quarterly
or annual surveys. Each different market segment might prefer different measures.
How are you getting feedback from each of your different groups of customers?
Is feedback actively solicited or informally collected? What are you hearing
from each different market segment? How do you respond to what you are hearing?
Reasons Why Customer Feedback Is Important To Your Business
Customer Feedback Strategy:
The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
to Get Quality Customer Feedback – 20 Effective Methods
Top 25 Ways
to Get Customer Feedback from the Pros
Types of Customer Satisfaction Surveys
There are numerous different ways to measure the satisfaction of your customers.
The challenge with specifying key measures is that not all businesses will use
the same metrics. According to Barb
Lyon, for call centers, support, and service desks, first call resolution
is the Holy Grail. For a shipping operation, product delivery and project implementation,
on-time performance is the measuring stick. In a high transaction business,
the first interaction with a customer will be a key determinant of whether the
customer will return. How should you measure satisfaction for each of your different
market segments? How do you know?
Top 5 Customer Service Metrics
to Measure Customer Satisfaction?
to Measure Customer Satisfaction, and Why It’s So Important
Proven Methods for Measuring Customer Satisfaction
Why and How to Measure Customer Satisfaction
RETAIN YOUR CUSTOMERS
It is conventional wisdom among experienced marketers that one existing customer
is worth five new ones. Bain
& Company found that, “increasing customer retention by just 5
percent can increase profits by 25 percent to 95 percent.” Yet, conventional
wisdom is also that a typical business loses around 20% of its customers per
There are a variety of strategies to help retain your customers, as included
in the articles listed below. Retention is primarily a result of customer
loyalty. What should you be doing to retain the customers in each of your
different market segments? How do you know?
What is Customer
Guide to Customer Retention
Customer Retention Strategies
Customer Retention Strategies That Work
Customer Retention Strategies to Implement Today
While some organizations consider customer complaints to be signs of failure,
others see them as opportunities to learn from. Also, research suggests that
customers who experience prompt resolution to their complaints often are some
of the most loyal customers. However, there are some best practices in handling
complaints that you should be aware of. How are you handling complaints to each
of your different market segments? Is that the best approach for each? How do
Customer Complaints Are Good For Your Business
The New Rules of Handling Customer Complaints
a Complaint Handling Procedure
to Create Your Own Customer Complaint Process
You can understand why the most important aspect between your organization
and its customers is the quality of the relationship between the organization
and its customers. That quality determines how loyal your customers are to your
organization. Fortunately, there has been an increasing amount of research about
best practices to manage the relationships. The field has come to be known as
Relationship Management (CRM). Various software packages make it much easier
to collect, organize and reference a vast range of information about customers.
CRM has been proven to increase the number of customers and profitability for
CRM 101: What is CRM?
What is Customer Relationship
Relationship Management Tutorial
The Beginner’s Guide
to CRM: Customer Relationship Management
The Top Reasons CRM Software
Evaluation should be done while you are working to satisfy your customers and
to retain them. Periodically, you should stand back and evaluate your progress
in achieving the various goals that you had established for your customer service
Be sure to use the learning from your evaluation activities to improve the
next round of the planning of your customer service management system. In that
way, you are indeed treating your customer service as a recurring system of
aligned and highly integrated activities.
Most Effective KPIs To Evaluate Customer Service Performance
Service Metrics that Really Matter To Your Business
to Evaluate Customer Service
to Evaluate a Customer Service Representative
Do You Measure Customer Service Success?
Beware of Letting Competitors Distract You From Customers!
Customer Service or Torture?
Six Critical Steps to Training High-Quality Customer Service…
6 Tips to Delivering Customer Value (a Leadership Challenge)
Customer Service Answers You Can’t Do Without
Companies Think They Are Too Smart for Customer Service
Customer Service in the Land Where it Really Counts
Key Training Ideas for Your Customer Service Program
Learn More in the Library’s Blog Related to Customer Service and Satisfaction
In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blog
that has posts related to Customer Service and Satisfaction. Scan down the blog’s
page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts”
in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a
post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.
For the Category of Customer Service and Satisfaction:
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been
selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.