What is good customer service and does it really matter?

First you have to uncover the definition of good customer service, and then provide proof to management in sales, product, and other departments how great customer service impacts the bottom line.

By Monica Norton

Published January 15, 2020
Last modified July 8, 2020

You’ve read every article, watched all of the webinars, and you’re convinced: today is the day our customer service team takes our customer service to the next level. But it turns out that buying into the importance of good customer service and knowing how to improve customer service are two very different things. First you have to uncover the definition of good customer service, and then provide proof to management in sales, product, and other departments how customer service has a major impact on your company's bottom line.

To deliver the right results and the right experience, you need to help your colleagues answer a few questions:

  • What is good customer service?
  • What is bad customer service?
  • What effect will providing one or the other have on your company?

With the help of Dimensional Research, we conducted a study and wrote an article to answer those very questions. The results, while sometimes surprising, ultimately backs up what we’ve been saying for a long time: providing your customers with excellent customer service leads to long-lasting customer loyalty.

Dimensional Research went through the process of interviewing more than 1,000 consumers to understand what elements create a positive customer service experience, the ways customers reward companies that offer it, and all of the ways a customer will broadcast (both publicly and privately) their experiences.

Good customer service definition

One of the more surprising results of the survey was the way people answer the question: “what is good customer service?” It might seem like a given that most people would list achieving their desired outcome as the most important factor. The key to good customer service was this:

The problem was resolved quickly.

OK, so clearly the customer getting their way must work as the second highest-rated factor, right? Not quite. The second biggest factor in customer service is:

The person who helped me was nice.

Makes sense, right? Nobody likes to be treated poorly. The customer getting their way has got to be the third most important factor for good customer service. Wrong again:

The problem was resolved in one interaction; no passing around to multiple people.

Less than half (47%) of those interviewed indicated that a customer service interaction was positive because the customer service agents delivered what they were originally hoping for. Rather, winning customer experiences are about how that customer feels they are being treated.

Ultimately, the human elements of customer service are what really defines good customer service.

Support that meets the definition of positive customer service

When support management invests in great customer service:

  • 81% tell their friends and family about it
  • 45% broadcast their experiences on social media
  • 35% will write about it on review sites like Yelp
  • 52% will continue to do business with your company
  • 24% will choose you over your competitors for up to two years

What is good customer service?

Good customer service means helping customers in such an efficient manner that it exceeds customer expectations. As such, a speedy response time is imperative. And it's worth going the extra mile to turn an angry customer into a loyal customer—87% of people share these great customer service stories with others. When thinking of what makes a happy customer, consider this: how often have you heard someone complain about poor customer service? Customer service isn't just a crucial tool for retaining customers; positive customer interactions are necessary for attracting new customers and building brand loyalty.

The key thing to remember is that most customers are reasonable: They can handle not always getting their way every time. What they truly want is customer service that can offer fast and convenient support, no matter what the delivered results of that customer service may be (but of course, always be listening to your customers as well).

And they want to be treated with a little respect. Give it to them. Your customers will thank you. And so will sales, marketing, and the rest of your company.

Read the full article: Customer Lifetime Value

Agent life cycle guide

Take the long view of your customer service agents, everything from finding and training them, to developing their skills and value.