What Is Customer Service? Definition and Business Impact

Gladly Team

Read Time

5 minute read

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As the ecommerce landscape continues to change, brands are asking the question: What is customer service by today’s standards?

Customer service agents used to be the retail assistants helping shoppers pick out clothes in-store or representatives who answered the phone when customers called to pay a phone bill. As ecommerce grows, that definition has evolved to reflect a specific set of capabilities and actions that a brand takes on behalf of earning a customer’s affection and, ultimately, consistent business.

Let’s walk through a modern interpretation and the different types of service all brands should embrace, including the tools to use to truly connect with shoppers and foster valuable, long-term relationships.

What Is Customer Service?

Customer service is everything a brand does to assist and benefit the needs of those who either already pay for their products or services or may in the future.

The key word here is “everything,” and by 2022, the customer service department has grown to include far more channels and tactics than ever before. Today, the customer expectation is to receive access to support on whichever channel they choose, to be able to solve a majority of their issues on their own through self-service, and even to see some level of personalization throughout the process.

Types of Customer Service

There are two types of modern customer service: “reactive” and “proactive.” Though seemingly self-explanatory, it’s crucial for ecommerce companies to understand the differences between the two in practice and how these approaches translate to the various customer service channels they occupy.

  1. Reactive customer service is the most common version of service, encompassing all channels (phone, SMS, social, and chatbot) that respond to customer requests, complaints, and questions when prompted by the customer. This can include anything from requesting an update on an order to asking a question about how a product is used.
  2. Proactive customer service is service that goes beyond the bounds of normal reactive service and doesn’t rely on the customer to begin the interaction. This can look like brands offering updates about orders, letting a customer know a favorite product is back in stock, or giving a special personal discount for being a loyal shopper. These behaviors show a customer that the brand appreciates their business.

What Is Good Customer Service?

Customer service should be both reactive and proactive, responding quickly to requests across channels while also anticipating customers’ needs and going the extra mile for them. The latter, in particular, is how brands develop loyalty.

Successful customer service is the result of a well-trained and equipped support team that has the tools they need to provide individual service to each customer. With a platform like Gladly, radical personalization becomes second nature, turning agents into Support Heroes with the capacity to easily draw on the entirety of a shopper’s history and full knowledge of the brand to upsell and cross-sell products. Gladly also uses People Match to drive customers to the best possible agent available who can help them based on their personal criteria, furthering customer appreciation.

Customer service in 2022 requires that brands have the ability to not only respond effectively to customer questions but also to stay connected with customers to foster loyal, valuable relationships. The results will bring greater revenue over time as well as an established brand that goes above and beyond to provide exceptional customer experiences.


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