Customer Service

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Customer service

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© NSW DET 2008

Topic 1 - Customer service

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© NSW DET 2008

Introduction

It may seem strange that you are studying an area that you already know so much about—customer service. Whether we realise it or not, we always judge organisations that we come in contact with and so we already have quite a good understanding of a customer’s perspective. In this module we will put this understanding into a structured model, so it can contribute to developing organisational goals related to customer service. We will be working on one of the ‘magic ingredients’ that make organisations successful—a quality customer service system—and learning how it can be managed. We will use a case study, Cricketland, to look at how to develop skills in managing quality customer service. When you are a customer you may be buying something for yourself, or on behalf of an organisation. Either way, you have your own expectations about the service you’ll receive. An important way to contribute to organisational success is to see others in the organisation as internal customers—find out exactly what they need and try to give it to them. By using this approach the needs of the organisation’s external customers can be delivered much better. If individual expectations of customer service were always clear for organisations, it would be easy to just give people exactly what they want (if it was economically possible). Unfortunately organisations often don’t know what we—the customers—need, and we soon become dissatisfied when we don’t get it. Consequently you—the customer—may spend much time changing organisations in search of the ‘holy grail’ of service. This is inefficient for both organisations and customers. To improve the situation, organisations need to ask us what we need and how we need it, and we must play our part by telling them. The complicating factor in all of this is that we are all different in our needs and we place different emphases on different things. Organisations which have a good reputation for customer service focus on what are considered to be the universal needs of people. These include a need to be acknowledged, a need to be recognised as an individual, and a desire to complete the transaction in minimum time. One way around this dilemma of having different needs is for organisations to specifically define who their average customer is, ie identify parameters such as age, gender, income levels, geographic location etc. Once the average customer is identified the organisation needs to access a sample of

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© NSW DET 2008

people who fit the parameters and question them regarding their needs and expectations. Organisations can also train customer service representatives (CSRs) in the skills of finding out customer needs and provide a convenient way for employees to record this information. That is what the module is about— developing a plan to provide customer service that meets the needs of customers.

Customers — who are they?
Consider this simple definition of customer:
a person or business buying goods and services.

The definition suggests that the customer is outside the organisation but many of us now view customers differently. Consider this description of customers: people, groups or organisations who use the goods and services that you produce or create.

Traditionally we have thought of customers as those who are outside the organisation ie the buyers of the goods and services provided. However, many people have customers who are inside their organisation. The customers of an accounts clerk can include the sales department and the IT section. The customer of a production team can be the team that further processes what they produce. So it can be argued that we all have customers in our jobs that are both internal and external. Of course, some people rarely have contact with their organisation’s external customers. Nevertheless, their efforts must be directed to producing the...
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