Most companies will have some sort of client or customer services operation. This maybe called Customer Support. It will also include any helpdesk operations. Customer services is a front line role, whose primary responsibility is to provide support for existing clients and resolve any problems they may be experiencing. It also involves improving their experience of the company’s product or service and where applicable increasing usage. In some organisations, client training is also included within this area. In general this is often a reactive role, although not in all cases.
Customer services will be involved in:
- After sales care
- Product selection
- Resolving customer problems
- Dealing with complaints
- Explaining product usage
- Enabling product usage
Dependent on the organisation, customer services are either mainly telephone/online based or for those higher value, more complex products, involved in face to face client visits. Customer support maybe also play a role in supporting the sales force.
Customer Services staff usually have an excellent understanding of the company’s products as they regularly have to resolve problems and usage issues with them. They may also have to regularly deal with unhappy and stressed clients who feel they have been let down or wish to complain. These departments are particularly large and key in organisations where the firm’s products are critical to their clients. This is often the case for those that are technology based. If they go wrong, it is important that a resolution is found quickly and that’s the responsibility of customer services. They will often liaise with other departments within their firm to organise engineers or seek advice.
Most business-to-business organisations will employ large customer services department, but so to will those organisations that deliver a service and are contracted directly with the end consumer e.g. Sky. Many of these effectively work as a help desk, some of which will be specialists. Other organisations, such as insurance companies will also employ large teams that are in effect in a sales role, providing quotes for clients and administering the paperwork that follows. This will however be a very structured online environment, with sophisticated systems to provide them information and support.
The Customer Service role, is a great training ground as it develops first class knowledge of the firm and its products. It’s also a front line role, dealing with customers. It’s generally very busy, and being patient, working quickly and keeping calm will stand you in good stead. You often need to juggle a number of things at any one time and stay on top of them and ensure each is followed through – so a strong sense of ownership helps.