Why Everyone at Your Company Should Work in Customer Service

Having a better offering is no longer enough to beat the competition. Client interactions have never been more crucial to winning business

Written by Murad Hemmadi

Most people think of excellent customer service as the domain of one specific department or function of your business that’s actually called Customer Service. But if you want to be known as a company worth doing business with, the definition of customer service should be much broader than that.

Every time a customer comes into contact with your company—whether with a person or a product—is an opportunity to provide customer service. Whether you’re a global manufacturer operating online or a small business relying on in-store sales, customer service encompasses everything from the first moment a potential customer starts gathering information about your products right through to long after they own and are using it.

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This means, of course, that everyone who works at a company, in one form or another, is a customer service representative.

Some companies focus all their attention on the quality of the product and have little regard for the customer’s purchasing experience. That might work out for a best-in-class maker with a historically powerful brand presence, but its an increasingly unsustainable business model. With social media, customer word-of-mouth reaches further than ever before. And with most companies websites and product lists accessible on a mobile device, customers can compare the competition without expending much time or effort.

Simply building a better mousetrap may not be the only—or even the best—strategy to differentiate yourself from the competition. While design differences can sometimes be subtle or overlooked by customers, what they won’t forget is the consistent ease with which they interact with your company.

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Every department should be asking themselves how they could be better at putting the customer first. Product developers need to talk to sales reps—or customers directly—to find out what design solutions would best address their needs. Marketers who build web interfaces need to make it easy to learn about products and order them. Manufacturing needs to assemble products in ways that reduce the end user’s costs, but also minimize the risk they’ll receive a damaged product. And shippers must be held accountable for the delivery times the company promises.

Making this happen requires a change of perspective. It would be accurate to say that my company manufactures and sell chairs. But there’s another way to think about what we do: We provide the service of helping our customers acquire chairs.

But a semantic shift won’t accomplish much on its own. If the goal is to provide customer service at every touch point, it’s important to find metrics to track that. Sometimes it’s easy to measure your success. If a customer orders a quantity of 100 and one unit is damaged when they open the box, that’s an inconvenience for them. So when that happens, you mark it down in the “fail” column of providing customer service when it comes to shipping. Even though it may not even be anyone at your company that caused the issue, your customer will still link that problem back to you. So in this way, managing relationships with suppliers like freight companies is—you guessed it—customer service.

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A damaged product can of course be ameliorated with another touch point of customer service: warranty. For instance, when a part is broken, a lot of companies will simply send out a replacement part. But why not go the extra step in providing service to your customer and pay for the labor to fix it? If the problem is resolved within the timeframe that you have set as your goal, mark that down in the “excelled at customer service” column.

Harder to measure are intangible markers like whether your product list is accurately meeting your customer base’s needs, or how customer-friendly interactions are when someone phones up the department actually called Customer Service. But just as you use creative thinking for your marketing plan, product development, and every other thing you do, it’s important to find innovative ways to track these “softer” services.

In the end, whoever your customer is on the phone with, or however they are coming into contact with your products or brand, the goal is for them to say, “My goodness, I just like working with those people.”

Chris Binnendyk is President of Allseating, a leader in the design and development of seating solutions that adjust to the needs of customers in the office, educational and healthcare industries.


Do you agree? How do you deliver a consistently high level of customer service at your business? Let us know by commenting below.

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