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This week's Wiki-Wednesday topic is Customer Service. An excerpt of the article is below or you can click here to read the full article at the source.

For more information on why we selected this topicm take some time to read the following:

Customer Service

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.

According to Turban et al. (2002),[1] “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation."

Its importance varies by products, industry and customer; defective or broken merchandise can be exchanged, often only with a receipt and within a specified time frame. Retail stores often have a desk or counter devoted to dealing with returns, exchanges and complaints, or will perform related functions at the point of sale; the perceived success of such interactions being dependent on employees "who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest,"[2]according to Micah Solomon quoted in Inc. Magazine.

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.[3] From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement. A customer service experience can change the entire perception a customer has of the organization.

Some have argued[4] 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 KPIs.

Customer Support

Customer support is a range of customer services to assist customers in making cost effective and correct use of a product.[5] It includes assistance in planning, installation, training, trouble shooting, maintenance, upgrading, and disposal of a product.[5]

Regarding technology products such as mobile phones, televisions, computers, software products or other electronic or mechanical goods, it is termed technical support.

Instant Feedback

Recently, many organizations have implemented feedback loops that allow them to capture feedback at the point of experience. For example, National Express, one of the UK's leading travel companies invites passengers to send text messages whilst 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.[8] Technology has made it increasingly easier for companies to obtain feedback from customers. Community blogs and forums give customers to give detailed explanations of both negative and positive experiences with an organization.

A challenge working with customer service is to ensure that you have focused your attention on the right key areas, measured by the right Key Performance Indicator. There is no challenge to come up with a lot of meaningful KPIs, but the challenge is to select a few which reflects your overall strategy. In addition to reflecting your strategy it should also enable staff to limit their focus to the areas that really matter. The focus must be of those KPIs, which will deliver the most value to the overall objective, e.g. cost saving, service improving etc. It must also be done in such a way that staff sincerely believe that they can make a difference with the effort.

One of the most important aspects of a customer service KPI is that of what is often referred to as the "Feel Good Factor." Basically the goal is to not only help the customer have a good experience, but to offer them an experience that exceeds their expectations. Several key points are listed as follows:

1. Know your product – Know what products/service you are offering back to front. In other words be an information expert. It is okay to say "I don't know," but it should always be followed up by "but let me find out" or possibly "but my friend knows!" Whatever the situation may be, make sure that you don't leave your customer with an unanswered question.

2. Body Language/Communication – Most of the communication that we relay to others is done through body language. If we have a negative body language when we interact with others it can show our lack of care. Two of the most important parts of positive body language are smiling and eye contact. Make sure to look your customers in the eye. It shows that we are listening to them, not at them. And then of course smiling is just more inviting than someone who has a blank look on their face.

3. Anticipate Guest Needs – Nothing surprises your customer more than an employee going the extra mile to help them. Always look for ways to serve your customer more than they expect. In doing so it helps them to know that you care and it will leave them with the "Feel Good Factor" that we are searching for.

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