Customer service is generally defined as the interactions between a business and its customers and is rated based on the ability of that business to meet their customers' needs. Good customer service will exceed a customer’s desires or needs in a prompt and courteous manner. While customer service is usually more noticeable in sales occupations, it is important for the success of any company or organization that provides a service to communicate a clear set of customer service standards to their employees.
The most important aspect of customer service is to treat customers with respect. When people spend their time and money in an establishment, they expect that they will be treated fairly and respectfully. Most businesses have competitors who can provide similar services, so often times, the quality of customer service will be a major deciding factor in securing a customer’s patronage. The majority of customers do not have unrealistic expectations, but simply desire honesty and integrity. Showing empathy, or putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, displays to the customer that you understand his frustrations or needs and are willing to help him resolve the problem.
As the old adage goes, time is money and providing prompt resolutions to customer needs is vital to a company's success. Nobody likes to be endlessly placed on hold or told they will have to wait to be taken care of. Good customer service is accomplished by quickly responding to a problem knowledgeably and accurately. Accessibility is crucial to achieving a high level of service, and many companies have customer service departments or entire call centers with employees trained in resolving issues in a timely manner. If a customer's needs are met swiftly, she will normally forgive a company and appreciate that the company cared enough to acknowledge and resolve the issue.
A major problem that occurs in customer service situations is when a customer is promised something that cannot be fulfilled. Anyone can attest to the fact that it is far more frustrating to be mislead regarding a solution rather than to be told from the beginning what can really be achieved. Giving a customer unpleasant news can be intimidating, especially if he is already upset, however, it is better to be truthful and begin working toward a realistic resolution. In the end, as disappointed as a customer may be to not hear exactly what he wants to hear, he will appreciate honesty. A customer is more likely to be much more upset if he is promised something a company is not able to deliver.