Customer Service: What does that job look like
Customer Service Job Description
The current market scenario and need to re-prioritize your goals
In the current ongoing period of global recession, slowdown in demand and macroeconomic instability, you need to stay competitive and profitable to ensure the survival and growth of your organization.
It can be ensured by differentiating yourself from the competition by winning the customers with targeted and cost effective marketing campaign, superior experience of your primary offering and high quality customer service. It will help you to tap and retain the limited customers who have varied choices with competitive price offerings in the present customer deficient markets.
In this volatile economic situation the focus on increasing your customers’ satisfaction level and reducing the customer churn should be the major goal for your organization to sustain in these troubled times.
Wading through the troubled times
The real goal for you is to excel in your core competencies which can be a product or services along with a properly implemented customer acquisition and retention strategy to enhance your revenue growth.
A sound customer centric strategy, strong client service structure, dynamic customer service team and clearly defined and demarcated customer service job description is bound to make your customers loyal to you and ensure sustained revenue growth and profitability for your organization.
This will act as a Noah’s Ark for your organization to wade the rough waves of macroeconomic disequilibrium and slowdown across the nation and the world.
The Customer Centric Approach
The success of your organization can be ensured by following the customer centric approach and building a strong customer service delivery structure to ensure customer satisfaction and retention.
Customer centricity is not just about offering great customer service to your customers, it means offering a great experience throughout the customer life cycle from the awareness stage to purchase stage and finally post purchase stage. It is a strategy that is based on putting your customer first, at the very core of your business. Becoming a customer centric organization is the Holy Grail towards tapping the true potential of your customers.
A customer- centric approach will enable your organization to differentiate itself with the competitors who do not offer the same experience to the customers. Amazon is a prime example of customer centric approach as it has evolved its culture to put its customer first. However the customer centric culture cannot be developed over night.
Developing and implementing the Customer Centric Strategy
A development of a well chalked out strategy by you to develop a customer centric vision, customer service delivery structure and dynamic as well as efficient customer service team with well defined customer care job description is required to achieve this goal. This strategy will help you to put yourself in the shoes of the customer which will minimize customer effort and maximize customer value which will increase his loyalty towards your organization.
In the current dynamic high-tech e-commerce startups environment, customer service is the key to achieve sustained growth for your organization. Customer care or service is the most critical part of customer centric approach. Most of the successful entrepreneurs are of the opinion that satisfying the early stage customers is the single most important aspect of growing their brand and achieving an early success. That’s why it is a top priority for every business especially the startups.
At the Heart of Customer Centric Approach is Customer Satisfaction
At the heart of customer centric strategy is pleasing your customers. Particularly for startups it provides a mechanism for early customers’ retention and the feedback about new products to flow to the management and necessary changes are made to the offering for better market targeting. It provides for a mechanism to service the client before, during and post purchase.
The customer care and support includes assisting your customer in making cost effective and correct use of your product. Assistance in planning, payment, installation, training, trouble shooting, upgrading and disposal of the product are part of customer care. The valuable feedback that is provided by your customer at each stage will help your organization to know if it is moving in the right direction.
The feedback provided by the customer can be used by your organization to evolve your products or services according to the customer requirements. This again enhances the customer satisfaction and overall brand image of your organization. To ensure this service delivery and feedback mechanism, well structured customer service delivery structure needs to be built by you based on customer centric vision and approach.
Customer Service Delivery Structure
The objective of customer service delivery structure is to create a service culture, improve brand image, maintain service quality, enhance employee engagement and overall ensure high customer satisfaction for your organization. It lay at the core of your several business functions like product development, finance, marketing and brand management from where the service requests and feedbacks flow to each department from your customer.
In the customer delivery structure, the entry level position of customer service representative is the first point of contact for any customer with your organization. He is generally monitored by the customer care manager who is responsible for result delivery of many representatives. The operational hierarchy is also headed by the customer service manager who develops plans and strategies for better result delivery.
A senior member of the core management like Vice President or customer service department head is responsible for the customer service managers of different verticals like new customer business, existing customer servicing, payment collection, complaints.
The head of the department provides strategic feedback and direction to the top management to adapt themselves according to your customers’ inputs. The positions of employees in your customer service department can vary from entry level to top management level depending on the requirements of your customer service delivery model.
By providing the detailed customer care job description of each member of your customer service department, the roles and responsibilities and the workflow gets streamlined. Moreover, a system of checks and balances is also in place with a properly laid out customer care department structure.
Customer Service Job Description: Assigning roles and responsibilities
A clearly defined job description for customer service delivery is critical for successful functioning and efficiency of your customer service department. It gives an overall picture of the tasks, responsibilities and skills involved in customer service job.
Although a customer service job varies according to the sector, company and the level of the job, the fundamental tasks and responsibilities remain similar for the customer service functions for an organization.
Interacting with Customers
The general purpose of the customer service job is to interact with the customers and process the information in response to their queries, issues and requests about the product and services offered by your organization. The customer service job description includes dealing directly with your customers over the phone, email or face-to-face.
On the product side, the customer service job description entails collecting and evaluating all the necessary information to reply to client’s queries and providing pricing and delivery information.
New Customer Hand holding and On-going service
New customer hand holding tasks like creating a new account, performing customer verifications, processing orders, forms, applications and requests are part of customer service job description. The task of organizing workflows to meet the time frames of service delivery is also performed by your customer service team.
Ongoing tasks like maintaining records of your customers’ transactions, maintaining customer account, recording details of complaints, inquiries and requests and maintaining databases remain critical task that needs to be performed by the customer care representative.
Conflict resolution: A critical part of customer service job description
Conflict resolution mechanism is a critical part of customer care job description. The complaints have to be swiftly resolved by contacting the concerned department which is involved in the issue.
For instance your customer calls and complains about the non-functioning of the payment gateway after deduction of money from his account. In this situation after checking on his end, your customer care representative needs to send the message to the concerned department asking them to streamline the payment process.
Conflict resolution in an effective and timely manner is the benchmark of an efficient and dynamic customer care team.
Keeping abreast with the market and customer feedback
The customer service team is responsible for sending reports and feedback to your management. This enables them to take strategic decisions like implementing key changes in your current product, developing a new product to meet the market’s need, correcting the price points and corrective measures to enhance the brand image of your organization.
Without the feedback from your customer service team the top management of your organization would be direction less like a ship sailing the sea without a global positioning system. The key members of the customer service team like the customer service representative and the customer service manager play an important role in providing services to your customer.
The Front Line Soldier: Customer Service Representative
The most critical part of the customer care team and the customer service architecture is certainly the customer service representative. This position is responsible to be the front end of your organization and is the first point of contact for your customers.
Customer service representative job description includes responding to the customer queries, registering, reporting and resolving customer’s complaints, request for account information, negotiating collection arrangements, coordinating service requests and maintaining customer accounts. The responsibilities of the person in this position also include conflict resolution and providing feedback to the reporting authorities about the customer behavior.
A dynamic, efficient, polite and skilled person in this position is imperative for your customer service system to succeed in the first place. Being the front end of the organization the services provided by the customer care representative leaves a lasting impression of your company in the mind of your customer.
The pre-sales and after sale support of an organization and account management of your customer is heavily dependent on customer service representatives’ efficiency, emotional intelligence and problem solving capabilities.
Case Study on critical role played by Customer care Representative
The importance of the position of customer care representative can be explained by the hypothetical case a new launch of a product or services by your organization. During the launch of the new product or services the contact number of customer care would be mentioned in all the market communication mediums for further details and inquiries.
The Customer Service representative will work as a front end providing all the information and answering the queries about your new launch to the in- bound customer calls. After the information sharing and query resolution the customer care representative will assert the customer to take a decision and will ensure the conversion of the customer lead.
He will play a critical role in closing of the customer leads which are not directly handled by your sales staff thus reducing cost of marketing. If a meeting is required to close the deal the customer care representative will transfer the hot lead to your marketing staff for face-to-face deal closure.
As a part of hand holding process the customer care representative will guide your new customer in account creation, training on product usage and payment procedures. The customer care representative will also take customer feedback about the satisfaction level and will escalate to the concerned department if any issue persists. This will complete the smooth hassle free integration of new customer with your organization in accordance to your product or services and is bound to create a positive image of your organization in his mind.
The customer care representative will call your customers each month to remind them about the payment schedule and guide them to make the payments. This will ensure assured cash flow for your organization. The customer service representative team will resolve the issues or complaints of your customers pertaining to the product and services and will escalate complex problems to the specialized departments.
In the above given hypothetical example it must be noted that the customer service representatives are involved in pre-sale, during the sale and after sale relationship management of your customers during the crucial time of a new product or services launch. This ongoing process of customer relationship management is highly critical to achieve success in current scenario where the customers want least effort and maximum value from a product.
Your customer centric approach and strategy spearheaded by your customer care representative is bound to create a lasting impression in the mind of your customers and will promote brand loyalty, repeat business, word of mouth publicity for you and reduce customer churn to the minimum.
In long run the revenue and profitability of your organization will grow through a satisfied customer base. Hence your happy customer would ensure that your organization remains healthy and successful.
Customer Service Manager: The Bridge between the Team and the Management
The team of customer care representatives plays a crucial part in enhancing the happiness index of your customer and in turn makes your organization successful. The team of customer care representative is supervised by a customer service manager.
The position is held by a senior person who has substantial knowledge in the field of customer service and is capable to handle complex situation, can provide dynamic solutions and can prepare plans and strategies to develop and enhance your customer service quality standards for your organization.
Role of Customer Service Manager
The job description of the customer service manager includes developing and updating your customer service policies and procedures, handling more complex inquiries and complaints, authorize refunds and other compensations to your customer, making accurate records of communication with your customers and analyzing the key management information to see how your customers are being served.
Recruitment, training and supervision of staff
The customer service manager is responsible for recruiting, training and appraising new staff and ensuring high quality service delivery from his team. He is also responsible for supervision and of the existing staff.
Keeping the Top Management updated
The customer service managers’ responsibility also includes keeping your top management updated of your customers’ feedback by providing them with regular information in the form of management information systems (MIS). This provides your top management with directions and insights to make strategic decisions to evolve the existing product, developing a new product, managing brand image and enhance your customers’ satisfaction level.
The role of manager is crucial for providing a direction to your management to improve on the above given parameters which in turn is bound to increase the profitability and revenue of your organization.
Conflict resolution in critical cases
The manager is also responsible for handling important face-to-face meetings with your customers and conflict resolution in highly complex situations. High conflict cases which can lead to high compensation payment and approaching the courts for conflict resolution are to be handled and resolved by manager through his experience and emotional intelligence before they snowball into a big loss for your organization.
Case Study: Role of Customer Service Manager in high conflict situation
The same hypothetical case of launch of your new product or services can be sighted to emphasize the strategic role of the customer service manager in customer relationship management and conflict resolution for your organization.
Consider the situation where the customer of your newly launched product or services faces a serious quality issue. Your aggrieved customer will call your customer care number to register his complaint and will be attended by the front end staff, the customer care representative who will carefully understand his problem and will try to solve the issue at his end.
The issue being technical in nature and outside the purview of the customer care representatives’ domain it will be escalated to the quality/ technical team. The technical/ quality team will visit your customer and finds out that the quality of the product or services offered to the customer is of lesser quality or is faulty due to some unforeseeable cause.
Your quality/technical team states their finding to your customer care department and the quality/ technical department. They cite the high cost involved in improving the quality of product or services provided to the customer. Meanwhile the customer calls again and threatens with action in consumer forum and law courts as he feels cheated by your organization.
In this case your customer care manager will step in to resolve the matter. He will talk to the customer to understand his concern and devise a suitable action plan. Then he will hold a telephone conference or face to face meeting with the quality/ technical team and the senior management to evaluate the pros and cons of the situation.
Since the matter of your customer approaching customer forums and courts is highly detrimental for the brand image and financial health of your organization the customer care manager will recommend to refund the whole amount charged to him or replace the product sold to him.
The manager will make sure that the solution provided to your customer by the organization is acceptable to all the stakeholders and hence the issue is resolved before it snowballs into a controversy. Hence his role is to resolve the conflict and to create a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
Findings from the Case Study
From the hypothetical example stated above you can clearly deduct that the services provided by the customer service manager is responsible to create an environment that is conducive for your business to grow and prosper. Your satisfied customers ensure repeat business, sustained profitability, word of mouth publicity and development of positive brand image for your organization.
Strategy Formulation to Achieve the Goal of High level Customer Satisfaction
To achieve highest level of customer satisfaction and sustained revenue growth it is critical for your organization to have customer centric vision and strategy to implement customer service delivery standards. A carefully crafted strategy for customer service delivery structure should be developed by the customer service industry experts and your top management including the best practices in the customer service domain adapted to the needs of your organization.
Clearly defining and demarcating roles and responsibilities or the job description for customer service for each member your customer service team will be the next step in this process. The total team strength for your customer service delivery and the levels of hierarchy in the team needs to be finalized by your top management and customer service industry experts.
The objective should be to ensure that the global standards and the best practices in customer service delivery industry are followed and implemented by your organization.
Focusing on Core Competencies
In the present times, the competitive and dynamic environment of the corporate world requires you to be the best at what you do. The core product offering of the company needs to be developed through innovation and R&D.
The products and services offered by you along with interaction and the customer service standards have to meet the global standards. This will ensure you would be able to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Balancing the spending between Marketing and Customer Service functions for maximum profitability
In today’s scenario companies have been reducing their spending on the customer service delivery as it is seen as a cost centre. This in turn leads to low customer satisfaction as the information in not properly conveyed and issues are not resolved.
The resultant customer churn or inability to tap new customers due to under investment in customer service delivery system is an opportunity cost for your organization.
The amount spent on advertisements and customer care has to be strategically balanced to ensure that leads are generated, converted in to customers and retained for long term association with your organization. This will create a sustainable business ecosystem required for survival and success of your organization.
The Strategic decision: In-house or Outsourced customer service team
The strategic decision of having an in-house customer care team or hiring the services of a highly specialized customer service organization to which the customer service delivery responsibility can be out sourced needs to be finalized by your core management. This decision should be based on your organizations priorities, core competencies and cost to benefit ratio analysis.
The customer service team whether in-house or out sourced needs to be headed by a highly specialized and experienced person who should be a part of the core management of your organization. This will make your customer service delivery system robust as well as dynamic from the strategic point of view.
The Holy Grail for achieving success in current scenario
Achieving all the objectives of customer service job description and enhancing your customer’s experience with your organization will ensure that you sustain and remain profitable in the current scenario of macroeconomic instability and slowdown in demand. The key to achieve success for your organization lies in implementing the Holy Grail of success which is certainly the customer centric approach