What is Customer Service? [Benefits, Channels, Examples, Trends]


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, January 30, 2023

Top-notch customer service is what differentiates a great company from an average one. So what benefits and qualities does it come with? And how can you deliver excellent customer service?

Article 13 Minutes
What is Customer Service? [Benefits, Channels, Examples, Trends]

You can have the best product or service in the business, but that’s only half the battle. Without great customer service, you‘ll struggle to build and secure a loyal customer base.

This is because shopping has become a valued experience for so many consumers.

This means that organizations must go above and beyond to create enjoyable experiences that will have customers coming back time and time again.

But standing out from the competition is no mean feat; you need to understand modern customer service and consumer trends. This is the only way to get an effective strategy in place.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at what customer service is and how it benefits your business. We’ll also share some everyday examples that you can apply to your organization.

What is customer service in a nutshell?

The simplest definition of customer service is the support you offer to your customers before, during and after they make a purchase with your company. It’s the direct interaction between them and a representative of your company.

In a nutshell, customer service is the care you give to consumers to ensure they have an enjoyable experience when buying from your business, and they leave satisfied. 

Customer service vs. customer support

There can be some confusion between the terms’ customer service’ and ‘customer support’, which can often lead these phrases to be used interchangeably. However, it’s important to distinguish the difference between the two.

The easiest way to understand the difference is that customer support is about providing technical support for a product or service, helping customers or clients fix physical issues or problems, such as a broken device or being locked out of an account.

Customer service, on the other hand, is about providing value and advice to a customer to ensure they get the most from your goods or services. This can involve assessing the customer’s needs and making recommendations, answering queries and offering a positive experience with the company.

Why does great customer service matter to the success of your organization?

It’s no secret that excellent customer service is essential if you want your business to succeed. However, customer service has changed dramatically over the years, particularly as a result of the digital revolution.

In a competitive, digital-first economy, customers have come to expect more from the businesses they engage with. In fact, almost two-thirds (62%) of consumers confess they feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy from most.

This means businesses need to go one step further if they hope to evoke the desired emotions and secure customer loyalty. Customer service plays a huge role in this.

This isn’t the only reason why great customer service matters; it also has many other benefits too.

What are the benefits of providing good customer service?

From financial benefits to marketing opportunities, there are so many reasons that good customer service can support the growth of your organization. Below, we’ve compiled a list of eight key benefits:

  • First and foremost, good customer service can increase the likelihood of making a sale and can increase conversion rates through online stores
  • Not only this, but you can increase revenue as consumers agree they would be willing to spend between 13 and 18% more with a brand that offers good service
  • It can also encourage customers to remain loyal to your brand, which can protect relationships if the customer experiences a mistake or issue further down the line
  • And, as customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition, this can save your business money
  • Proactive customer service will create better marketing opportunities
  • Happy customers are also more likely to recommend your goods or services to their peers
  • Excellent customer service can give you a competitive advantage over organizations that don’t offer the top services
  • Finally, customer service employees have the chance to gather data and information on the latest trends, which can offer important insights into customer experiences

Keeping all of this in mind, it’s easy to see how great customer service matters to the success of your organization.

What are 3 important qualities of customer service?

There are a number of important qualities required to offer the best possible customer service, but there are three, in particular, that should be a key focus.

The three most important qualities of customer service are the three ‘P’s - professionalism, patience and a people-first approach.

Of course, customer service will vary depending on each organization and its guidelines, but these are the three pillars that must remain throughout. Let’s look at these in more detail.


Though it might seem basic to suggest that professionalism is important in the workplace, you need to imagine this in the context of customer service. When you’re dealing with potentially frustrated, upset or hurried customers, staying calm and collected can be tricky, but it’s absolutely crucial to stay level-headed and professional at all times. 


Following on from this, patience is crucial, particularly during busy periods. It’s important to remember that every customer is different, and they will have different needs and questions. Some might take longer to make a decision or a purchase than others.


Finally, taking a people-first approach is vital in customer interactions if you want to offer high-quality service. This attitude is about personalizing the experience and connecting with customers. It’s about empathizing with them to determine what they need and helping them accordingly.

How to deliver excellent customer service

So far, we’ve talked about why customer service is important and how it can boost sales, build a loyal customer base and contribute to the bottom line.

But how do you go about delivering excellent customer service on a daily basis?

Well, as we’ve mentioned, the three ‘P’s are going to be crucial, but there are some other ways that you can ensure your team offer the best possible service.

1. Know your product/service

First and foremost, your customer service representatives need to know your products or services inside out. This is so they can answer customer questions and advise them on what goods or services might be best suited to their needs.

To achieve this, it’s a good idea to put all customer representatives through a careful onboarding process and then offer them regular training and updates. This will ensure they know what they’re talking about and feel confident doing so.

2. Put customers first

A big part of customer service is customer centricity and making consumers the focal point of everything you do. After all, they’re the most integral part of your business and its success. Therefore, you need to put them at the center of all decisions, new offerings and experiences.

3. Provide support across all channels

Nowadays, there are so many different types of customer services. With consumers engaging across a number of platforms, such as email and text, businesses must provide omnichannel support if they hope to stay competitive. Some of the most popular and important channels you should target include:

  • Phone
  • SMS messaging
  • Email
  • Self-service
  • Messaging
  • Social media
  • Live chat
  • On-site

4. Invest in personalization

Personalization needs to be an integral part of your customer service. This is because a staggering 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase from a brand if they’re given a personalized experience. For example, almost one in four (72%) will only engage with messaging if it’s personalized.

This could be achieved through targeted emails, personalized offers and supporting them on the platforms they use the most.

The more you know about your customers, the more personalized and enjoyable you can make each interaction.

5. Prioritize agent training

Our recent report, The State of Customer Experience, found that the average organization (25%) is willing to invest between $10,000 - $50,000 on agent training, and a further 19% are prepared to spend between $50,000 - $100,000.

But for customer service that sets your business apart, it’s crucial that you not only invest in training but that you also prioritize it.

This training should focus on the most important soft and hard skills required to help customers. These include interpersonal skills like empathy and communication, as well as product knowledge, and technical know-how.

Thorough and regular training will boost your agent's performance and help them to better support your customers.

6. Use positive language

Something as simple as replacing negative phrases and using positive language instead can make a huge difference to your customer service. It helps avoid conflict or miscommunication and offers a more enjoyable experience.

For example, rather than saying ‘I don’t know’’ you should replace this with ‘I’ll be glad to look into that for you’.

Or instead of saying, ‘the product is unavailable and will need to be back-ordered,’ you should say, ‘the product will be available next month, so I’ll pre-order that for you now’.

7. Gather customer feedback

What’s the most straightforward way to understand what your customers want and improve their experience with your brand? To ask them, of course.

Therefore, you need to make sure you are regularly gathering feedback from them and turning this into actionable insights.

Some of the simplest ways you can collect feedback are through pop-ups on your website, emails, online review sites and social media. 

8. Gauge the performance of your existing channels

As well as gathering feedback, you also need to think about other ways to collect data and get insights to gauge the performance of your current channels. The good news is that you can use several helpful metrics to do this.

Looking once again at our recent report, current organizations are using metrics such as Customer Satisfaction (60%), Customer Retention Rates (51%) and Customer Lifetime Value (36%) to measure their success.

These metrics will help you determine if your current strategies and channels are working and what you can do to improve these.

9. Automate where necessary

Finally, technology, and in particular automation, has made it possible to exceed customer expectations. Wherever possible, you should automate processes and allow customers to help themselves.

Some ways you can automate your customer support include personalized emails and offers, FAQ pages on your website and automated responses on social media and web chats. These can help to address queries quickly and save your customer service representatives precious time. 

Everyday examples of good customer service

In order to deliver great customer service, businesses must be completely customer-oriented and ensure they put consumers above all else. This way, they can offer proactive customer support that is timely and allows them to use the channels they prefer. Here are some real-world examples of what this might look like.

Letting customers help themselves

It might sound counter-intuitive when talking about customer service to suggest they help themselves, but for many customers, if they can find the information they need easily and on their own, they’d prefer to do so. This also saves your customer representatives time.

Some everyday examples of this include FAQ pages and online discussion forums, video tutorials and even self-service checkout machines.

Meeting customers where they want to interact

It’s important that your organization is engaging with customers on their preferred platforms, and nowadays, brands have begun to engage with customers via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Smartphones have also made it much quicker and easier to interact with customers through SMS messaging and WhatsApp.

An omnichannel approach is also important for customer service so consumers can communicate with agents across channels, choosing their favorite and continuing from there.

Delivering speedy first-response times

According to IFP research, many organizations have recognized the need to speed up their interaction times, and they plan to reduce waiting by prioritizing customer requests (61%), building a customer service knowledge base (60%) and building (or optimizing) AI chatbots to deal with customer complaints and queries (55%).

Again FAQ pages, online forums and pop-up web chats are great everyday examples of this. Automated responses can also be a helpful way to point customers toward the information they need or to quickly let them know that an agent will be in touch.

The future of customer service: 2023 and beyond

In the future, all businesses will need to take a holistic, omnichannel approach to customer service. As technology evolves and consumer expectations continue to change, organizations must keep revising and updating their customer service strategy if they hope to meet demands and stay competitive.

Our data shows that customer-centricity (26%), conversational AI (21%), personalization (21%), and agent experience (19%) are going to be some of the biggest driving factors over the next 12 months. These will have the biggest impact on customer service trends.

Therefore, organizations must focus on these key areas, and many intend to do so by implementing relationship marketing initiatives (51%) and mapping customer journeys (48%). Others will redesign/update their website (43%) and focus on real-time personalization (33%).

In order to get the best results, businesses must invest in monitoring customer experience and gathering data using key metrics. They can then improve the customer experience across all digital channels and in-store to ensure they are offering the best possible experience now and in the future.

As well as ensuring that they take an omnichannel approach to customer service, cutting waiting times needs to be a priority for organizations in 2023 and beyond, as consumers are 39% less patient now than before the pandemic.

As we can see, consumer expectations aren’t slowing down, and the customer service landscape will continue to change. Therefore, agent training and getting the right tools in place will play a critical role in an organization’s ability to cut waiting times and deal with customers more effectively.

This needs to be a top priority if you hope to stay competitive in 2023.

Final thoughts

Great customer service is no longer optional; it’s crucial if your organization wants to create a loyal customer base and continue to drive your business forward.

Investment in the right tools is going to be crucial in the first instance, but data collection and feedback are going to play an important role in offering excellent customer service now and long into the future. 

So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to revisit your customer service strategy and approach and adjust this accordingly to meet the demands of consumers in 2023.

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