Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. Customer support refers to a range of services including assisting clients to make cost effective product choices and getting the most from their purchases. The process includes assistance in planning, installation, training, trouble shooting, maintenance, upgrading, and disposal of a product. In the technology industry, where people buy mobile phones, televisions, computers, software products or other electronic or mechanical goods, customer service is called technical support.
Customer service is regarded as a supplement to the product, and not a replacement for any part of the product. For instance, if a product is faulty in one way, having good, responsive customer service may ameliorate to some degree the customer's dissatisfaction, but will not make up for the deficiency in product quality. If a person buys a product that they are happy with, however, then good customer service can supplement this satisfaction.
The importance of customer service varies by product, industry and customer. Retail stores, for example, often have a desk or counter devoted to dealing with returns, exchanges and complaints, or will perform related functions at the point of sale ; the perceived success of such interactions are dependent on employees who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest. From the point of view of an overall sales process engineering effort, customer service plays an important role in an organization's ability to generate income and revenue. From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement; the customer service experience can change the entire perception a customer has of the organization.
Customer service may be provided by a person, such as a sales and service representative, or by automated means. An advantage with automated means is an increased ability to provide service 24-hours a day, which can complement in person customer service. Another example of automated customer service is touch-tone phone, which usually involves a main menu and the use of the keypad as options, for example "Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Spanish. "
A challenge working with customer service is to ensure that attention is focused on the right key areas as measured by the correct Key Performance Indicator. The challenge is not to come up with a lot of meaningful KPIs, of which there are many, but to select a few that reflect the company's overall strategy. In addition to reflecting the firm's strategy, customer service should also enable staff to limit their focus to the areas that really matter. The focus must be on those KPIs that will deliver the most value to the overall objective, for example, cost saving and service improvement. Customer service must also be delivered in such a way that staff sincerely believe they can make a difference.