It always seems to me that, to give good customer care, you need to, well… care.
Once you truly care about your customer, the rest comes sort of naturally. It’s built into our human wiring.
So, what is customer care, and how should it differ from ‘mere’ customer service?
Why Should You Consider Customer Care?
If you search for customer care online (as I did), you’ll find a lot of links that will tell you what customer service is. There are a few links to articles that make a distinction.
But let me ask you two questions:
Question 1: Customer Care or Customer Service
In today’s world of automation and process efficiency, is it possible to create good customer service without the need for anyone in your business to actually care?
I would suggest the answer is ‘yes it is’. Many online businesses, for example, offer great customer service. But the person on the end of an email helpdesk neither knows you in any meaningful way, nor needs to care two hoots about you as a person. All they need to do is move your enquiry to a satisfactory resolution. And no, I am not saying that none of them does care. I’m simply suggesting that none of them needs to care.
Question 2: Can the Customer Tell if Someone Cares?
When you are a customer and getting customer service from a business, do you ever get a feeling either that:
- the person who is serving you doesn’t really care about you, or
- that person does really care that you have a good experience?
If you are like me, then sometimes the answer is absolutely clear. I’ve been served by owners who seem to not give two figs about me as a customer, and by bottom tier admin staff who seem to make it their personal mission to be as helpful as they can.
And, when you know which box to put a company in, how does that affect:
- your future buying choices?
- the stories you tell your friends?
- recommendations you make, if asked?
What is Customer care?
Customer care is, quite simply, taking care of your customer. It is about meeting their needs and making them feel good about being your customer.
Giving good service will get you positive feedback and recommendations, and probably a good measure of loyalty. But in most cases, it is customer care that gets you the kind of loyalty that turns customers into fans, advocates, and even evangelists.
As well as providing your customers with the service that they have a right to expect, customer care means looking after them, and making them feel they have your respect and appreciation. You care what they think, and take care to let them know it.
So, here are my own working definitions
Definition of Customer Service
Customer Service is taking care of your customer and their needs. You give helpful and high-quality service in a professional manner. And you do this before, during, and after your customer has made their purchase.
Customer servce can readily be measured and delivered against objective standards, like the ISO 10001, 10002, 10003, qne 10004 standards.
Definition of Customer Care
Customer Care is looking after your customers to ensure that they are completely satisfied with the goods or services you intend to sell them, or have sold them. At every stage in the relationship, you show that you value their custom, and go out of your way to make the experience smooth, easy, and pleasurable.
Customer care is hard to meaure objectively, but easy for customers to recognise – either by its presence or by its absence.
How to Give Good Customer Care
Rule 1: You have to actually care.
In workshops, here is how I help businesses to develop an approach to good or even great customer care.
- I start with storytelling. People love telling their stories of good and bad experiences as customers. We start with stories of poor customer care, to get people laughing. Then we do stories of excellence to get the ‘ahhh’ factor.
- Then, we distil lessons and guidelines from those stories.
- From the general lessons, we look at how they apply to that organisation, to develop a set of desirable behaviours, policies, procedures, and cultural norms.
- Next, we work on how to operationalise these – the longest part of the conversation
- Finally, we look at how to track progress, measure impact, and refine our approach, so that the organisation can make its customer care approach sustainable and adaptive.
What is Your experience of Customer Care?
We know everyone loves telling tales about exceptional (good or bad) customer care experiences. We’d love to hear yours – along with your ideas, and questions. Please leave them in the comments below.
To learn more…
The Customer Service Pocketbook is full of tips, techniques, and tools for everyone who contributes, directly or indirectly, to ensuring that the customer comes first.
The Managing Customer Service Pocketbook is full of tips, techniques, and tools to help you inspire your customer service team to delight your customer and build the value of your service brand.