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Customer service can be definted as all customer interactions between a customer and a product or service provider at the time of sale and thereafter. Customer Service adds value to a product or service and builds enduring client/customer relationships. A career in Customer Service can take many forms, from high street retail through to an office or call centre based role in which the interaction between the Customer Services team and customers is performed by phone, email or live chat. Job titles within Customer Services can include Customer Service Representative, Customer Service Operative, Customer Service Team Member, Customer Service Team Leader, Customer Service Manager, Call Centre Operator and many similar titles.
Keys to Excellent Customer Service:
Most successful customer facing businesses recognise the important of providing outstanding customer service. A courteous and empathetic interaction with a trained customer service representative can mean the difference between losing or retaining a customer or key client. When client problems arise, customers should receive timely attention to the issue from a customer service representative. Prompt attention to client emails and phone calls is critical to maintaining good customer relations. Requiring customers to stand in long lines or sit on hold can sour a client interaction before it begins.
Ideally, customer service should be a one-stop endeavour for the consumer. For example, if a customer calls a customer service helpline regarding a problem with a product, the customer service representative should follow through with the customer until the issue is fully resolved. This may entail scheduling appointments with repair personnel if the problem cannot be resolved on the phone, or transferring a call to skilled technicians in another department. The customer services staff memeber should follow up with the customer within the next day or two to ensure that he or she is fully satisfied.
Attributes of Successful Customer Service Representatives include:
- Customer service representatives must be accessible, knowledgeable and courteous.
- Customer Services team members require excellent listening skills and a willingness to compromise to reach a resolution. Training in conflict resolution can be very beneficial in fostering those skills.
- Strong speaking skills are another important attribute of a successful customer service representative. For phone staff, this means speaking clearly and slowly while maintaining a calm demeanour, even if the customer becomes upset.
- Companies must make a commitment to providing up-to-date information to customer service representatives.
- To avoid complicating an existing problem, customer service employees need to have the latest and most accurate information about products and company policies.
- Periodic assessment of customer service is essential to running a successful company. Surveys allow customers to provide feedback about the service they receive and to suggest areas for improvement.
Customer Relationship Management – CRM
Customer relationship management (CRM) refers to the principles, practices and guidelines that an organisation follows when interacting with its customers. From the organisation's point of view, this relationship encompasses direct interactions with customers, such as sales and service-related processes, and forecasting and analysis of customer trends and behaviours. Ultimately, CRM serves to enhance the customer's overall experience.
With the growth of the Internet and related technologies, customers are concerned over the privacy and safety of their personal information. Therefore, businesses need to ensure the storage and analysis of their customer data has the highest levels of protection against cyber criminals, identity theft and other breaches of security.
Elements of CRM range from a company's website and emails to mass mailings and telephone calls. Social media represents one way companies adapt to trends that benefit their bottom line. The entire point of CRM is to build positive experiences with customers to keep them coming back so a company creates a growing base of returning customers.
Customer Service can take many forms and the salaries will vary accordingly. An entry-level customer service role could pay anything from minimum wage up to around £20,000. More experienced individuals, especially those with a strong track record and positive references, can earn quite a bit more, especially if this leads them into team leadership or management roles.