Basic Duties of Customer Service Staff

“Be a customer service role model. Regardless, of what you do for your company, be that person that everyone admires and wants to emulate”. – Shep Hyken

Before delving in to the duties of customer service staff, it would behove us to define customer service. We all know in practice what it should be and what we would like as customers, but to understand what the duties of the service providers are, it would be helpful to have some defining terms of customer service as a function. We feel that customer service is all about being accessible and cost effective and delivering products and services to customers in the most efficient and satisfactory manner. The overriding trait of customer service is of creating a strong relationship with the customer that brims with trust and integrity that will go beyond just the direct interactions.

Given the above definition or summary of customer service, it would be appropriate to say that the duties of customer service staff is the recognition of the above and of serving the customer by being helpful and of use to them. Customers of today want value added interactions and have those interactions with someone who has great listening skills and goes beyond rote and robotic scripts and so called ‘tried and tested’ methods. At the hiring stage, it will be useful if the hiring manager picks out those individuals who demonstrate a basic understanding of these traits.

A customer service member’s role requires them to interact with the customers providing them with information regarding the company’s offerings and or resolving their problems and addressing their concerns. In previous times, the only way to gather customer information was via the telephone but now with so many channels and CRM software, this onerous task has become a lot easier and efficient.

Customer service is a front-line job and in essence the first contact any outside person has with the company. One of the basic duties of customer service staff therefore is to be the ‘face’ of the company they represent and depending on the kind of face presented to people they either become customers or don’t and customers remain happy or not. If the front-line is doing a magnificent job of pleasing customers, the company will add loyal customers to their fold and also have an ever-growing bottom-line. Studies suggest that each loyal customer is worth at least ten times more than the first buy they made with a company and it is the central role of the customer service staff to ensure that more customers become loyal as time elapses.

As a company you would and probably do define the role of customer service staff based on your industry and line of work. We are listing out what seem to be common and most important of the duties of customer service staff.

– Top class service to customers from the start of an interaction. Being courteous and empathetic is not about being socially appropriate but rather behaviour that is a demand of this role and will be instrumental in raking in more profits and repeat business from customers. The customer service staff’s job is to make sure that no customer leaves feeling unattended to or that their needs were not met or insufficiently met.

– With frenetic working hours and crazy deadlines, customers need to interact with people who will simplify the interactions and breakdown the processes for easy understanding. Also with increase in technology there are multiple communication channels and a great customer service team will ensure that customers are serviced efficiently and swiftly via any channel that they choose to interact through. Waiting times and queues are no longer acceptable and hence one of the basic duties of customer service staff is to keep the process moving and free of bottlenecks.

– When customers approach a company for information regarding anything, they are expecting accurate and credible information. It is the job of the customer service staff to ensure that the information that is being given out is comprehensive, useable and precise. Customer data and other data fed in to the system must be exact and correct so that retrieval and dissemination of service is quick and efficient. Data entry and updating the data in the system is also one of the basic duties of customer service staff.

– Product knowledge and system knowledge is at the very root of being effective business partners for the company and the customers. The customer staff may not be expected to have much to do with the core working of the organization, but a basic understanding will help them work better. Many companies are now departing from the concept that customer service is a cost centre and adopting a more forward approach of customer service being a profit centre. For this to be true, the customer service staff must be trained to behave as business partners by positioning the company’s brand and offerings in a manner that encourages the customer to buy.

– No matter how hard a company may try, there are bound to be times where something goes wrong. So one of the most important and basic duties of customer service staff is complaint handling and resolution. To stop a complaint from becoming too large or snowballing in to a wave of criticism, customer service staff must act swiftly and intelligently and appease the customer. And the staff must remain polite and courteous even under these pressure situations. Research reveals that effective complaint handling is likely to make a customer loyal more than if the problem had never occurred.

– Another rather basic and common duty is the handling of customer problems and queries. A problem doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer is complaining but rather needs someone who will understand the problem and either resolve it themselves or pass it on to the person having the authority to resolve it. Whatever be the handling of the problem, the customer service staff must ensure that the customer is satisfied with the response. The customer service representative, who passes the problem to the respective authority, must also ensure closure i.e. ensures that the customer does get a call back with a resolution and also finding out if the resolution was suitable to them.

– Even though the sales team is a part of the customer service team, the frontline customer service staff are not essentially part of the core sales team. However, by interacting with customers they may be able to understand the needs of the customer and pass on this lead to the sales team. So in effect, the frontline customer service staff are also sales lead generators and assisting with sales.

– In the realm of a contact centre, the most basic duties of customer service staff is taking phone calls, noting down points from the conversation and passing them on to the people equipped to make the decisions. For instance, a customer may call regarding a technical difficulty with their computer software it would be the job of the front-line staff to transfer the call to the appropriate department. Also data entry, maintaining records, updating information and filing documentation also fall under the basic duties of customer service staff.

If your company has outsourced this critical function, it would be extremely important to keep a check on the functioning of the third party. They must embody your company’s values, culture and customer focus and when selling the ‘outsourced’ customer service to a customer, it would be vital to personalize the model for them to be convinced. Customers in different market segments are getting younger and more attuned to the new technology and for a company to pitch their customer service to these young minds they would also need to be energetic, confident and upbeat. Mirroring the core customer’s values and business sense will help build and foster stronger and more sustainable relationships and would be one of the basic duties of the customer service staff. All companies need to ensure is that interactions with customers are rewarding, pleasant and memorable and train their customer service staff to perform their basic duties to achieve this.

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