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The Roles and Responsibilities of a Customer Service Specialist

A customer service specialist serves as an integral link between a company and its customer base. The service specialist plays an important role in creating and maintaining a good brand reputation....

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A customer service specialist serves as an integral link between a company and its customer base. The service specialist plays an important role in creating and maintaining a good brand reputation. The role is largely responsible for customer satisfaction, retention, and enhancing sales.

Specialists exist to provide customer support in various ways, including telephonically, by email, online chat, or social media. Some customer service specialists also deal with clients face-to-face. Larger companies may set up a call center for on-demand customer query resolution through incoming calls and online inquiries.

The responsibilities of a customer service specialist will vary according to industry and business type. Besides listening to and resolving customer queries, it also includes creating, canceling, or upgrading customer accounts. It can also deal with updating and verifying account information. Customer service agents are required to provide information regarding products, upgrades, inclusions, warranties, and billing terms. They also may assist clients with orders, refunds, collections, deliveries, and exchanges. Specialist agents will assist customers with product set-up issues and technical questions. The role requires representatives to wear many hats daily.

In this guide, we’ll look at the role in-depth and define successful execution to enhance customer trust, and retention, and increase revenue.

1. Respond to Customer Inquiries

Regardless of the business you have, your customers or potential clients are going to have questions. Inquiries are usually submitted on a website contact form, via social media, telephonically, or face to face.

Timely handling of customer inquiries sets the stage for what customers can expect from your business in the future, and also makes a huge impact on client retention or loss.

Proper handling of inquiries is proportional to customer retention. Two-thirds of customers (68%) turn to alternative service providers if they feel mistreated. This means that poor handling of inquiries can cost you over half of your business, and could send customers directly to your competition. If your competition handles inquiries with more finesse, you’ll be hard up ever getting those clients back. Alternatively, responding efficiently to inquiries can help you get a leg up on the competition.

To get great reviews, the speed of response matters. The longer you take to respond to inquiries, the more time you give competitors to solidify a sale. In a world where time is money, the fastest response often ends up getting the business. Service agents should be efficient in providing customers with the information they require in a straightforward manner. This makes it as easy as possible for customers to continue their purchase journey.

Customers can be quick to share their experiences with the public via social media, online reviews, or word of mouth. This can majorly impact the success of your business in either direction by driving potential customers away or giving customers confidence that they are making the right choice by choosing your business.

2. Handle Customer Problems and Provide Solutions

Your customer service specialists may be able to follow protocols and procedures, but can they think outside the box when it comes to providing solutions for unexpected situations?

Great problem-solving skills involve a combination of analytical and creative thinking that allows agents to identify solutions while making decisions quickly. A customer service specialist's critical thinking skills and attention to detail should make them quick to identify problems, and the factors responsible, and initiate changes to mitigate further challenges.

When dealing with customer problems, good listening skills are crucial. Service agents need to be attentive to customer feedback to gather the information needed to solve the problem. When an agent listens to a customer and shows empathy, it can convey that the representative is committed to helping them.

In addition to listening, customer service agents need to have excellent communication skills when resolving problems. Digital communication skills vary greatly from telephonic and face-to-face communication. If your service agent is excellent with face-to-face communication, don’t automatically assume they will be successful when communicating with clients online.

Since good communication skills are vital, make sure your specialists are communication experts in their realm of client interaction. They need to act quickly, prioritize, and manage their time wisely while maintaining company policies, and procedures and contributing to growth.

3. Process Different Types of Transactions

Customer service agents process many transactions as part of their daily interactions. Depending on the company set up, these can include placing orders, registering accounts, updating account details, assisting with payments and delivery, returns, and exchanges. It may also involve upgrades and downgrades of subscriptions and various account queries. To set yourself apart as a brand, transforming your transactional functions into meaningful relationships will build long-term trust and loyalty.

One glitch during any stage of the customer lifecycle can cost you a customer if not corrected efficiently. Having a well-established relationship with a customer solidifies trust and generally results in a more forgiving situation, as they know your service has always been reliable.

Customer service specialists need to view every transaction as a trust-building opportunity. Personalization achieves this by taking the content and history of a client and using it to offer contextual assistance and new content.

Personalization also allows proactive support by sending the right communication to customers before they even pick up the phone. In this way, call deflection can be a huge cost saver for companies. Sending a customer an email with payment options if they failed to complete an online shopping transaction is an example of this method. That way, if they were having difficulty with the payment method, they can find a solution before having to pick up the phone.

Another way to increase trust and turn transactions into meaningful relationships is to avoid automating social support. Instead, hire real people who are expert communicators. Call centers are a pain point to most customers with 75% of people expressing it takes too long to reach an agent and 67% admitting that they’ve hung up the call because they could not reach a real person.

Social platform communication is often a more convenient and preferable way for customers to communicate with companies. However, agents need to be cognizant not only of what they say but also of how they communicate information. If done correctly, this could lead to satisfied customers who trust your brand.

4. Upsell and Cross-sell

Your customer support team is front and center when it comes to communicating with clients and understanding what they want. This is a great position from which to launch upsell and cross-sell functions.

Companies that focus on subscription services use upselling to get the buyer to upgrade their package to a premium level of subscription. A popular example of this would be streaming service packages or mobile phone contracts.

Where upselling focuses on moving up in the product tier, cross-selling focuses on moving across a range of different products that will further enhance the user experience of the already owned products. For example, if a customer buys a digital camera, the agent may suggest they get a memory card as well.

Customers speaking to service agents do not want to hear a sales pitch. If your service specialists have determined exactly what the customer wants and need to fulfill with your product or service, the agent can more easily make a suggestion to enhance their experience on a personal level. This cuts out a one-size-fits-all sales pitch, which will likely deter your customer from calling again.

Since the service agent already has determined customer-specific information regarding the client's previous purchases and needs, they can also suggest upsells or cross-sells within the client's budget.

5. Respond to Customer Feedback and Reviews

Responding to online reviews, whether Google, social media, sales, or review platforms is one of the most important ways to maintain a good reputation, contributing to a growing customer base. Having someone dedicated to managing reviews is essential, and does not have to take hours out of their week. Customers appreciate being heard, especially if the response feels personalized.

When responding to positive reviews, the service agent should thank the customer and keep the message specific to them where possible, with a friendly phrase to entice them back. Showing appreciation and familiarity can reassure the user that their input is valued.

Handling negative reviews can be tricky, but if problems are efficiently resolved, customers often update their reviews with better ratings. Service agents should apologize to negative reviewers and thank them for their feedback. The reply should be professional, brief, and include an invitation to communicate offline where the issue can be appropriately resolved to retain the customer.

6. Help Build Your Company’s Knowledge Base

Since customer service specialists have so much interaction with customers, they have knowledge of customer feedback, likes, dislikes, and common pain points. If they receive numerous inquiries about the same issue, bringing this to the forefront can help you streamline your processes and self-help tools to reduce frustration and inquiries.

Online self-service tools allow customers to easily find what they are looking for on-demand without staff interaction. Examples include FAQs, user guides, how-to videos, and discussion forums. Answers should always be easy to find with the help of a search function.

With their day-to-day experience, customer service teams can help build your company’s knowledge base by giving recommended resolutions that will help increase customer satisfaction. These databases should continuously be updated to ensure that new products or queries are included, that information is current, and that customers get the best advice. Using this information majorly impacts the consideration and personalized experience your customers receive.

7. Keep and Track Records

Keeping records of customer interactions may seem a tedious task, but it is a vital part of improving customer service. It doesn’t have to be a painful process. With the correct procedures and software in place, your customer service specialists can do this immediately to avoid any information going missing after an interaction. These details include names, addresses, contact details, purchase information, queries, how queries were resolved, and order history. Depending on the type of business there will most likely be other information kept in the client database as well.

Maintaining these records can impact the efficiency of various business departments and can hugely impact customer satisfaction and repeat sales. The data will provide insight into common queries, customer pain points, spending trends, customer demographics, and popular products. All of this information is especially important to the marketing department and supply chain management. In addition, it offers agents a background of the client's last inquiry so that the customer does not have to repeat information every time they interact with a different agent.

Personalizing reminders, product suggestions, and follow-ups can set your company apart from the competition in building a loyal base of customers who feel valued and seen.

Transformative Customer Support with Helpware

With so many responsibilities, customer service requires a devoted and specialized team who can work effectively and efficiently.

Helpware will build a customized team for your businesses with specialized agents that are 100% dedicated to your team. Helpware transforms customer experiences at the personalized human level by integrating the right technology with effective business workflows. Each experience is carried out by a team that is focused on the why in each interaction. Helpware provides meaningful and unique experiences for businesses and their consumers.

From chat support and email to calls and data management. Discover how a Helpware team will drive higher customer satisfaction, deliver business continuity, and offer cost savings to your business.

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Jorge Cervantes
Vice President LATAM Business Operations

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