What is behind the term customer care? Literally translated it means “customer care”. Words that are often used interchangeably are “customer service” or “customer care”.
These activities in a company do not only mean complaints management, as is sometimes assumed. Complaint management is part of customer care. But it is also part of taking care of general questions and problems or otherwise contacting customers. Even when everything is going perfectly.
The goals of customer care
With your Customer Care Team, you meet the needs of your customers and those of potential new customers. Among other things, they help with the operation, maintenance or replacement of a product. Before that, they may advise you on the purchase and hand the goods over the counter. Customer care also includes looking after existing customers . The aim is to strengthen the bond between them and the brand . This is how you achieve more sales and generate true fans and regular customers.
Customer satisfaction is also to be increased with the help of customer care. At the same time, new leads constantly want to be found and encouraged to convert. Of course, marketing, sales and co. are also involved here – but these departments are not mutually exclusive with the tasks of customer service. Everything goes hand in hand. This brings us to the next point:
Who is responsible for customer care?
First of all, it should be said that systematic customer care is still too much neglected in both small and large companies. Small businesses think it’s a department that will only come along as they expand. This is fatal, because even in small companies, customers have questions and concerns. Possibly even more, since the service or product is still unknown.
Corporations, on the other hand, want to save and assume that they are known and popular enough anyway. They think they don’t need to invest much in customer care. Anyone who creates a customer care concept right from the start can therefore gain a market advantage.
An extra department for customer care?
It is possible to have your own customer care department, especially when it comes to service hotlines and similar points of contact. Basically, however, everyone who is in direct contact with the customer and communicates with them belongs to the customer care team. For example when purchasing or using a service. Other classic customer service situations are inquiries and feedback (regardless of whether it is neutral, negative or positive), complaints, advice or training and existing customer care .
Customer care occupies many employees in the company. However, not all teams are involved: human resources, accounting and controlling, production, research and development or even public relations (because the press is not counted as a customer) rarely have any contact with customer care. That would only be at trade fairs, for example Guided tours of the company or similar.
Capture the status quo in customer care
Before you can improve your care concept, the current status must be recognized. Is there already a customer care concept? If yes, how complete is it? Which contact channels do you offer? What are typical requests? How high is the customer satisfaction? What is your lead count? Capture all important information.
Collect this data both as a subjective impression of your customer care team and in facts and figures. This includes, for example, the number of solved and unresolved problems. A particularly interesting and not so well-known model is the Kano model for calculating customer satisfaction.
When the data is available, the interpretation starts. Does satisfaction relate to your customer care? Or do complaints come from the fact that the goods have defects, or because a cooperation partner is unreliable? Create comprehensive reports on a regular basis and define measures for improvement . This is also one of the tasks of customer care.
The retention rate (customer retention rate)
This number is not a direct representation of satisfaction, but it can be related to it: The retention rate is the percentage of customers who make multiple purchases or remain in the customer base within a period of time.
This is best recorded online, when a customer account is created or data is otherwise recorded. For a small retail purchase, with no loyalty program, the retention rate is harder to measure.
You are welcome to set a fixed goal for the retention rate. If you get bad value, don’t just take it. Rather find the reasons and fight the cause.
Jobs in the customer care area
If you are looking for a job in customer care, you can search for terms such as customer service agent, customer care manager, customer service, waitress, salesperson, consultant, key account manager or call center employee . The demarcations from each other are fluid, there is not one definition or task. But they are all similar.
As a leader in customer care, you would be responsible for optimizing the service processes and taking responsibility for the team. In some cases, the customer service job is outsourced to external service providers. This is an option if you don’t have the capacity for it. However, these service providers are less involved in your company. You don’t get everything that happens internally and your customers’ data is passed on to another location.
Requirements for employees in customer care
In order to select the right applicants or to decide whether you are suitable for the job yourself, we have compiled a list here. These qualities or skills are helpful in customer service:
- Open to small talk but also in-depth problem discussions
- Respect for customers
- Act fast
- Independent decisions
- Expertise about the product, the service, the company
- Knowledge of the departments and responsibilities in the company
Customer Service Expectations
Depending on the type of contact and industry, customers have different expectations of those responsible for customer care. In general, however, you can remember and prioritize these three requirements
Whether you offer an online-only service or run a local business, there must always be a way to get in touch. In recent years, multi- or omnichannel communication has become increasingly popular and proven. It allows the customer to choose the way they want to contact you.
Willingness to help
As a customer, I want to be taken seriously and get a solution to my problem. I want to be able to use my product without interference. Customer care is not there to shift the blame onto the customer, but to help them out of their situation. The service orientation is the most important motto for the customer service team.
Customers appreciate not having to wait long for an answer. Depending on the issue, a quick response may even be mandatory. So open up a contact channel that enables immediate help. For example, a chat on the website or a hotline with only a few seconds to minutes waiting time.
With an e-mail, you can take a day or two. A social media message should be answered within an hour if possible, but in any case on the same day. If you should receive a letter despite modern methods, the customer expects an answer and a solution in one to two weeks.
The difference between customer care and customer experience
The customer experience is about the entire experience that a customer has with a company. This does not necessarily require an encounter with an employee. The experience includes all touchpoints , including those outside of the actual service. It’s about the overall feel and impression.
Customer care is subordinate to customer experience (when the experience raises a concern that requires customer service) or subordinate to it because it is a subset of the overall experience. For the ideal customer experience, it is advisable to make your company’s appearance as consistent as possible . Use the same tonality, quality, design, comparable offers and service at the same level everywhere.
The connection to customer relationship management
The term customer relationship management is mainly known as a name for software, i.e. CRM systems. These programs are mostly used by the customer care team.
CRM allows your customer service to manage customer data , which in turn helps address each lead by name, or personalize products . You can also use the information in the system to compile offers based on interests and demographic data. The personal approach and care improves the relationship with the customer.
Who takes care of which requests? – Skill Levels
Depending on the type of customer request, you can assign other employees to solve it. One of them may be more familiar with topic A, but with topic B he forwards it to the appropriate department. The aim is to find the best expert for each problem . But be careful: basic knowledge is required from the questioner. Otherwise he will doubt the overall competence of the company.
The classification of the competence levels in customer care is traditionally based on the level of expertise. So level one has basic knowledge and can easily answer frequently asked questions. In the IT industry, this level is called First Level Support . As soon as it gets more detailed or technical and more expertise is needed, the request goes to second level support and so on. Build these steps into your customer care concept.
Customer Care and CES
CES stands for Customer Effort Score . He puts the mirror in front of the customer service. Because the better this works, the less effort (“effort”) a customer has in contact with the company. This factor is often forgotten in feedback questionnaires. But it is definitely relevant how much time, effort and nerves it took a customer to get the service he wanted.
Retaining existing customers
People who are already in your customer base are the top-grossing buyers . It’s also cheaper and easier to retain than it is to acquire new customers. Because neither does their attention have to be won for the first time, nor do they need an explanation of the concept and they already know what to expect. Man likes routine, he likes to buy again from the same source.
For companies, however, it should not be taken for granted that customers will stay. You can always decide to switch to the competition if they make you irresistible entry-level offers. Take care of this target group together with the customer service. Make attractive offers to existing customers and pay attention to them.
At the end, when all measures for a better customer care concept have been collected and implemented, you collect data again. Pay particular attention to changes here . The measurement is not an end in itself, but for optimization.
For example, product management benefits when it knows how well individual products are received. For product development, it is also good to know how easy everything is to operate or what additional features might be desired.
Contact the IT department if the web shop is constantly down and thus causing complaints. Or work out a concept with marketing if the advertising for the new features only lands with new customers, but the existing customers just mentioned have been forgotten. Good customer care ensures that you perform better as a company as a whole.