Customer Service Standards
Customer service standards are a set of policies and expectations that have been created and adopted by a company. The standards cover all the points of contact the business may have with the customer. In a sense, they are the expectations or rules for conduct in any customer transaction and how you want customers to feel about their experience with your company. After all, customers buy based on emotions rather than logic or reason. Exceptional customer care inspires future purchasing behavior more than data and facts.
Sales and assistance after the sale is just one aspect of a company’s customer service standards. A thorough set of standards must address the company’s customer service policies and practices at all key points of contact with the customer. Customer service is an essential component of a company’s business. Whether the company sells its products to individual consumers or to other businesses, the importance of customer service to the company and its brand development efforts is the same.
Customer Service and the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is a conceptual framework for thinking about your customer’s full range of experiences or contacts with your company. While the precise contours and points of contact will vary depending on the company and what it does or sells, generally it will consist of at least these three stages:
(i) Awareness: The customer becomes aware of a problem or a need, and has the desire to solve it or fill it.
(ii) Consideration: The customer thinks about possible solutions and options available for solving that problem or filling that need.
(iii) Decision: The customer makes a purchasing decision and buys one of the products or solutions he has considered in stage two.
Customer service should ideally cover each of these stages, as well as the post-purchase phase. In one sense, marketing is the art of helping customers move more rapidly and easily from one stage to the next.
Customer service serves as a support for people at every stage along the way, and beyond. Far from simply helping people who have already purchased to use the product more effectively, customer service is there to support both prospective and existing customers as they consider, evaluate, purchase and use a company’s products and services.
It may mean offering additional information about the need or perceived problem in the awareness stage, or stage one. In stage two, it could mean providing more detailed information about the lifespan of the product or service cycle and how it can help resolve the problem. Finally, in stage three, the decision-making phase, it usually revolves around assistance with the transaction itself or some aspect such as shipping and returns.
By crafting customer service standards to govern interactions with consumers at every possible point along the buyer’s journey, a company expertly crafts the specific experience it wants its customers to enjoy. Maintaining this sense of proactive design helps a business turn prospects and leads into loyal customers and brand ambassadors.
Importance of Service Standards
Taking the time and effort to formalize customer service standards is an important exercise for companies to undertake. The process of developing those standards and guidelines helps the company solidify its thinking about how it relates to its market and further enhance its brand.
Adopting formal customer service standards and communicating those standards to all employees who have any contact with customers is essential for the company’s workers, especially those filling roles that are explicitly devoted to the customer and technical service functions.
Additionally, adopting formal customer service standards helps the company in scripting the buyer’s journey. Furthermore, standardized customer service helps the company by ensuring the maximum positive response from the maximum number of customers.
A positive, enjoyable customer experience during a person’s first transaction with a company will often bring that customer back for future purchases. For most companies, from an economic standpoint, it makes much more sense to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. It could be up to 25 times more costly to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.