What Is "Ideal Customer Service"?

We’ve all heard about ideal customer service — the mantra of customer service vendors as they tout their wares. But what does this actually mean? Service at all costs (ideal for the customer)? Service at minimal cost (ideal for the business)? Or does “ideal” to a customer service manager mean the ability to deliver “good enough customer service” — where the cost of doing service is balanced with the ability to satisfy and retain a customer? Or is it something else — like providing a customer service experience that parallels a company’s business model?

Think about Saks Fifth Avenue — High-style, high-cost apparel. You would expect their customer service to be in line with their business model: Customer service on the customer’s terms — where you can arrange a phone call with a shopping consultant. You can talk with them now or later, at your convenience. You can email them and they will get back to you very quickly, or you can chat with them at any time of day or night.

Now think about IKEA — the provider of “affordable solutions for better living.” You shop at IKEA because you are comfortable with serving yourself — from pulling furniture off shelves to self-checkout to assembling them yourself. And, IKEA’s service mirrors their brand. They have exhaustive web self service in a multitude of languages, a chat bot, some email support and limited phone support. You are not disappointed with their lack of white-glove service because you would never expect it from IKEA — it is not their business model.

Take the analogy further — Your Saks Fifth Avenue shopper is not the same as your IKEA shopper or (fill in the blank of your favorite shopping site) shopper. These customers don’t expect to have the same shopping experience or have the same level of service at each of these stores. Companies need to know what their key value proposition is to their shoppers, and align their service offering with their business model, or brand.

This means a couple things for the customer service manager. He/she must understand the company’s brand and:

  1. Reflect it in the communication channels that are available to their customer base (ex., phone, email, web self-service, social channels etc).
  2. Reflect it in the service policies and processes that their agents follow.
  3. Reflect it in cost and satisfaction goals.
  4. Monitor and measure customer service expectations via traditional and social channels to ensure that they are in-line with the brand.

This would mean that the ideal customer service experience is one that reflects your brand. Thoughts anyone?

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Comments

Think (potential) customers!

Dear Kate,

I really like this article and I think you are right, but I do think you ended up summarizing it the wrong way. You state: "...and align their service offering with their business model, or brand". In my (humble) opinion you could've written more or less the same article but state: "...and align their service offering with their clients/customers expectation, or supercede those expectations".

So the answer to the question: What Is "Ideal Customer Service"? Should in my opinion be "one that matches, or supercedes, the expectations of (potential) customers"

(I'm Dutch, so pardon my English)

Think customers

You bring up a good point. My thoughts are that you must listen to the voice of your customer and act upon it in a sensible, rational way that is aligned to the value proposition of your company. However, can't let customers take control or and define your service experience for you. Many times, this gets down to education - communicating your service policies, processes, and then living up to your committments every time that a customer interacts with you.

The voice of the customer however, can pinpoint issues with your service, products, policies - all which should be internalized and acted on. If you dont, this will erode your brand.

Nice explanation about Ideal

Nice explanation about Ideal Customer Service. It sounds really interesting. Smart telling with excellent examples.

Thanks,
Bharathi

does process define experience?

Kate: your point 2 had be thinking about an article Prince Lal published on the Pitney Bowes Business Insight blog... that for most larger organizations, process defines the experience.

Prince wrote: If we define “experience” as a collection of interactions over the lifecycle, then the emphasis is on the journey. Thus, by focusing on its processes, a business can gain the appropriate insight as to how it can become more responsive in delivering a better experience. Otherwise, addressing the customer experience without fully appreciating the underlying business processes across the customer lifecycle positions the business squarely in a hypothetical one-off reactive mode

Obviously, brand dictates what that ideal experience should be.

There are also other types of

There are also other types of databases which cannot be classified as relational databases. Most notable is the object database management system, testking VCP-410 which stores language objects natively without using a separate data definition language and without translating into a separate storage schema.