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What Is Customer Service?

Customer service is the direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company that is selling it. Most retailers see this direct interaction as a critical factor in ensuring buyer satisfaction and encouraging repeat business.

Even today, when much of customer care is handled by automated self-service systems, the option to speak to a human being is seen as necessary to most businesses. It is a key aspect of servant-leadership.


  • Customer service is the interaction between the buyer of a product and the company that sells it.

  • Good customer service is critical to business success, ensuring brand loyalty one customer at a time.

  • Recent innovations have focused on automating customer service systems but the human element is, in some cases, indispensable.

Understanding Customer Service

Behind the scenes at most companies are people who never meet or greet the people who buy their products. The customer service representatives are the ones who have direct contact with the buyers. The buyers' perceptions of the company and the product are shaped in part by their experience in dealing with that person.

For this reason, many companies work hard to increase their customer satisfaction levels.

The Cost of Customer Satisfaction

For decades, businesses in many industries have sought to reduce personnel costs by automating their processes to the greatest extent possible.

In customer service, that has led many companies to implement systems online and by phone that answer as many questions or resolve as many problems as they can without a human presence.

But in the end, there are customer service issues for which human interaction is indispensable, creating a competitive advantage.

Amazon is an example of a company that is doing all it can to automate a vast and complex operation. It has to, given that it delivered 4.2 billion packages to customers' doors in 2020.1

Nevertheless, Amazon still offers 24-hour customer service by phone, in addition to email and live chat services.

Most successful businesses recognize the importance of providing outstanding customer service. Courteous and empathetic interaction with a trained customer service representative can mean the difference between losing or retaining a customer.


Customer service should be a one-stop process for the consumer whenever possible.

Key Components of Good Customer Service

Successful small business owners understand the need for good customer service instinctively. Larger businesses study the subject in-depth, and they have some basic conclusions about the key components:

  • Timely attention to issues raised by customers is critical. Requiring a customer to wait in line or sit on hold sours an interaction before it begins.

  • Customer service should be a single-step process for the consumer. If a customer calls a helpline, the representative should whenever possible follow the problem through to its resolution.

  • If a customer must be transferred to another department, the original representative should follow up with the customer to ensure that the problem was solved.

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