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Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase. The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees "who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest". Customer service concerns the priority an organization assigns to customer service relative to components such as product innovation and pricing. In this sense, an organization that values good customer service may spend more money in training employees than the average organization or may proactively interview customers for feedback.
From the point of view of an overall sales process engineering effort, customer service plays an important role in an organization's ability to generate income and revenue. One good customer service experience can change the entire perception a customer holds towards the organization.
Customer support is a range of customer services to assist customers in making cost-effective and correct use of a product. It includes assistance in planning, installation, training, troubleshooting, maintenance, upgrading, and disposal of a product. These services even may be done at the customer's side where he/she uses the product or service. In this case, it is called "at home customer services" or "at home customer support."
Regarding technology, products such as mobile phones, televisions, computers, software products or other electronic or mechanical goods, it is termed technical support.
Automated customer service
Customer service may be provided by a person (e.g., sales and service representative), or by automated means, such as kiosks, Internet sites, and apps. An advantage with automated means is an increased ability to provide service 24-hours a day, which can, at least, be a complement to customer service by persons.
An increasingly popular type of automated customer service is conducted through artificial intelligence ("AI"). The customer benefit of AI is the feel for chatting with a live agent through improved speech technologies while giving customers the self-service benefit. Another example of automated customer service is by touch-tone phone, which usually involves IVR (Interactive Voice Response) a main menu and the use of the keypad as options (e.g., "Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Spanish", etc.).
However, in the Internet era, a challenge has been to maintain and/or enhance the personal experience while making use of the efficiencies of online commerce. "Online customers are literally invisible to you (and you to them), so it's easy to shortchange them emotionally. But this lack of visual and tactile presence makes it even more crucial to create a sense of personal, human-to-human connection in the online arena."
Examples of customer service by artificial means are automated online assistants that can be seen as avatars on websites, which enterprises can use to reduce their operating and training costs. These are driven by chatterbots (also called "chatbots"), and a major underlying technology to such systems is natural language processing.
Metrics and measuring customer service results
Customer service metrics that are followed by companies depend on the tool used for customer service. Most popular metrics include:
- first response time,
- Average response time,
- total handle time,
- customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
Many organizations have implemented feedback loops that allow them to capture feedback at the point of experience. For example, National Express in the UK has invited passengers to send text messages while riding the bus. This has been shown to be useful, as it allows companies to improve their customer service before the customer defects, thus making it far more likely that the customer will return next time. Technology has made it increasingly easier for companies to obtain feedback from their customers. Community blogs and forums give customers the ability to give detailed explanations of both negative as well as positive experiences with a company/organization.
- ISO 9004:2000, on performance improvement
- ISO 10001:2007, on customer service conduct
- ISO 10002:2004, on quality management in handling customer complaints
- ISO 10003:2007, on dispute resolution
- ISO 10004:2012, on monitoring and measuring
- The International Customer Service Standard (TICSS)
- CCQA Customer Care Standard (Care Quality Alliance) www.CCQA.org.uk
Some have argued  that the quality and level of customer service has decreased in recent years, and that this can be attributed to a lack of support or understanding at the executive and middle management levels of a corporation and/or a customer service policy. To address this argument, many organizations have employed a variety of methods to improve their customer satisfaction levels, and other key performance indicators (KPIs).
Examples of high rated customer service
A 2018 report rated ten companies high in customer service:
- Avon Products
- Calvin Klein
- Disney Parks
- HEB Grocery Company
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- Automated attendant
- Customer experience management
- Customer experience transformation
- Customer relationship management
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer service advisor
- Customer service representative
- Customer service training
- Demand chain
- Interactive voice response
- Live support software
- Professional services automation
- Public Services
- Sales process engineering
- Sales territory
- Service climate
- Service system
- Social skills
- Support automation
- Technical support
- Help desk software
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