Customer Service – What is it?

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Customer Service – What is it?

Having worked in Customer Service for a large part of my career, it is something that I am always aware of – my family say it is in my DNA and that they inherited their awareness and customer centric way of being from me and through osmosis of hearing me discuss and share experiences at the dinner table – always extremely passionate and diverse conversations – where everyone had an opinion!

I don’t regularly think about this question (I am at the stage – I think! – of being competent in this area in an unconscious way) so I’ve been reflecting on how it is that I may come across to others that would provide them with a “positive customer experience” – this is what I came up with; I smile and make eye contact in a friendly way with everyone I meet, I greet everyone warmly and thank them for questions or interacting in any way with me.

So, what is Customer Service to someone asking the question, so that they may be better able to understand their skills gap and then set in motion a process to build understanding, knowledge and skill in this area?

My own definition is: “having the ability to interact with someone (your customer) to understand their specific needs and then to meet or exceed their expectations in a way that leaves them thinking positively about you, your service/product, and the organisation you represent and looking forward to further interactions with you and the organisation.”

If you would agree with this definition there are some skills that are essential to grow and develop that will enable you to provide this experience for your customers:

  • Self-Awareness – your ability to be aware of your own strengths and abilities, and how these impact those around you
  • Listening – your ability to look past your own internal dialogue, assumptions you may be making and focus on what is really being said
  • Questioning – your ability to check your understanding (and potential assumptions) to ensure you have all the information required to respond appropriately
  • Empathy – your ability to appreciate your customer’s point of view, without taking on any emotional residue that may hinder your ability to respond and act appropriately
  • Responsiveness – having received all the information required, your ability to respond in an efficient, realistic and timely manner to your customer’s expectations or requests
  • Ability to receive feedback – a critical skill, your ability to be open to and grateful for all feedback offered can support you and the organisation in understanding what it is that you are doing well (so keep doing it! ) and what it is you need to do differently (opportunity for growth and development)

In other blogs, we’ll explore these more – but for now I’ll leave you with some quotes from people who have something to say on this topic – and also know the value of it…

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”
Bill Gates

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”
Richard Branson

Submitted by our Leadership tutor, Gina Ryan

Gina Ryan, Leadership & Personal Development tutor

View full details of our Leadership & Personal Development courses here

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