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Understanding Customer Service

Updated: May 2, 2019

Black Woman ordering at a Restaurant
Photo by Fraser Cottrell

Customers by default go into the marketplace to fulfill a need or want, they come to you as your service-provider to meet that need or want. In return for a fee paid by the customer, you render service and/or a product.

Customer service is the broader term used to describe the larger role and processes of a service-provider to fulfill a customer's need and/or want that is pleasing to the customer within reason.

So What Does Customer Service Truly Mean?

All Members

Whether you are in the actual customer service department taking direct front line calls from the customers or working in Research and Development (R&D) or working in Accounting or acting as Chief Executive Officer (etc.). -- all members of an organization functions as customer service providers. This function and responsibility are not limited to a single department or team.


While closing the sale is important (no sales = no revenue = no business), as a service provider, the mindset should be ensuring:

  • I am meeting what the customer needs?

  • Do they understand how I meet that need?

  • Do they understand the fees, terms, and conditions in which our service provider to client relationship functions?

If the mindset is about the desired end result vs. the entire process, the end result may never happen. Mindset is key.


When customers are given information and understanding in their buying decision-making process, you are imparting empowerment to the customer who now:

  • Trust your intent (to help not sell).

  • Has built confidence in their ability to choose wisely.

  • Developing loyalty as not only as a service provider, but also an expert in your respective field/industry.

Empowered customers are the best customers to have.

What Customer Service Does NOT Mean?

Does Not Mean Perfection

We live in an imperfect world run by imperfect people. It is not that mistakes happen; it is how businesses respond and proactively address mishaps that negatively impact the customers. Customer service cannot be perfect, but it can be excellent.

Does Not Mean the Customer is Always Right

Just like the people who run businesses are imperfect, so are the people that businesses serve. Sometimes, customers may feel a sense of entitlement to fulfill their service expectations; however, whether it be legal or other extenuating constraints, you (as the service provider) cannot deliver.

Therefore, it is important that clear communication and information about policies are understood by the customer so they can make empowered decisions. Again, empowered customers are the best customers to have (refer to blog, "Is the Customer Always Right?").

Does Not Mean Stagnant Process or Policy

While it is vital to have formal process and standards to servicing customers that do not mean we should not be fluid, flexible and open-minded to deliver excellent service. Each customer is unique (as we all are) and should be treated as such.

All in all, customer service is an integral function to all businesses that are not limited to a specific department. Understanding the scope of what customer service is and looks like for your business will allow you to deliver excellent service to every customer and ultimately, embrace possibilities!


What does customer service mean to you?


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