One of the basic tenets of Customer Centricity is service. Why? Service is taking action to take care of someone else. More importantly, it is taking action to create value for someone else (Ron Kaufman). It is how one adds value to others and in the process, gains more of himself. In most cases (though not on purpose), people feel good about providing others a service, as doing so naturally entails a positive feeling within themselves. In essence, service is a spirit of altruism. It is not just a procedure to follow, but a mindset of purposeful engagement and proactive communication that leads to a productive behaviour.
Let us define Customer Service.
Wikipedia defines Customer Service as the act of taking care of the customers’ needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service, and assistance before, during, and after his/her requirements are met. One of my favorite Customer Service (CX) gurus, Michael Falcon, defines it as “an action within an entire customer experience; and to achieve an excellent experience, every touchpoint from beginning to end must be exceptional.” Take note that this definition of Customer Service gives rise to its particular ingredient, “touchpoint,” which means, every point of contact with a customer (face to face, phone calls, emails, ticket logs, etc).
On the other hand, Turban (2002), defines Customer Service as “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’s expectation.”
Apparently in these concepts given by the experts, common factors in Customer Service surface: action/delivery, care, and meeting customers’ needs. In addition, there is frequent usage of superlatives such as exceptional, excellent, highest quality, and the like.
In a nutshell, Customer Service is any action on all customer touchpoints, where we deliver our knowledge and abilities to customers to meet their needs and expectation in an excellent way. It is a cornerstone to a customer experience (CX) strategy. It is a balance of commendable acts between delivering service (which includes best practices and agent experience) and satisfying customers at a cost. It is about how an organization delivers its products or services in the most humanly satisfying manner, as pleasurable as possible.
What kind of service is needed then? Answer: we need superior service be delivered at any touchpoint, for “Good is no longer good enough.” To quote Ron Kaufman once more, “What was good enough for yesterday, isn’t good enough for today. What’s good enough for today, won’t be good enough for tomorrow.” This is so because of the fast-changing business world. It is very important to keep climbing the ladder of service level to keep up with the competitive environment. Being close to your customers and really anticipating their needs as even their wants and needs also change quickly. “The business world is always unpredictable,” as they say it. This gives us more reason to get even closer and know our customers even better.
With standards ever rising, how then do we give great or superior service? As mentioned, there should surely be a balance of sterling performances between the product (technical or otherwise) and experience (relationship aspect of our customer interactions). On top of this, we must make our customers a priority. One critical component of Customer Centricity is a customer-focused mindset (or for some people, “customer-first mindset”). Focus on them as people and not an issue to create a satisfying human experience. Superior/excellent customer service may not only result to Customer Satisfaction alone but more so, Customer Loyalty — the ultimate reward of Customer Centricity. Without a question, top-notch service creates loyalty and a returning customer, which is all our aim in business.
According to Mohandas Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This dictum is the foundation of any customer service definition and execution. We define service as any action taken to take care of someone. Hence, customer service should be executed in a way that takes care of our customers- whether internal or external. The truth is everyone in your business environment is your customer (they are your internal customers) and your external customers are the people who pay the bills that becomes a revenue of your business or company.
This article is culled from the first chapter of my upcoming book entitled “Primer on Customer Centricity. It will discuss all the fundamentals and basic concepts of Customer Centricity and will give my readers a peek on my true-to-life stories in relation to the concepts of Customer Centricity.