4 Levels of Customer Service: Definitions and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The level of customer service your business provides can have a significant impact on its growth and success. If you're a business owner or if you work in a customer-facing position, it's important to understand the different levels of customer service and improvement strategies. Developing a business model that prioritizes customer satisfaction can significantly increase client retention and revenue. In this article, we define the four customer service levels and provide tips on how you can provide exceptional of customer service.

What are customer service levels?

Customer services levels refer to the quality of service a company provides to their clients or customers. Many industries measure customer service in levels ranging from unsatisfactory to exceptional. Each business may follow its own customer service model to track their level of service, though core components of high-level customer service are consistent across all industries. Being mindful about the level of service you or your company provides can help your business make strategic decisions to provide better experiences for your customers.

Read more: 11 Ways to Deliver Great Customer Service

Four levels of customer service

The four levels that businesses commonly use to categorize the quality of customer service include this ranked list:

1. Unsatisfactory

Unsatisfactory customer service means that a company isn't meeting customer expectations. Several factors contribute to unsatisfactory customer service, including the quality of the service, poor face-to-face interactions, the time it takes to receive a product or service or the overall experience with the company. When a business leaves customer service unaddressed at this level, they may experience a decline in customers, which can decrease sales and lead to a direct loss of revenue.

Read more: FAQ: Ideas for Improving Customer Service

2. Meeting customer expectations

Meeting customer expectations is often the minimum requirement to ensure your company or organization stays in business. At this level, businesses meet customer needs, and there are no consistent complaints about the service. However, it may be challenging to establish a loyal customer base with only satisfactory service. If a competitor demonstrates a higher level of customer service, it's possible that customers will prefer this competitor.

3. Exceptional customer service

Exceptional customer service often means that you take extra steps to provide high levels of service. At this level, companies have successfully established a loyal customer base, making it difficult for competitors to attract them away. A critical component of exceptional customer service is showing your customers that you care about and value them. Some ways to demonstrate that you value your customers include offering loyalty programs, discounts, rewards, special offers and birthday gifts. Exceptional customer service can grow your customer base, improve your reputation and increase client retention.

4. Exceeding customer expectations

This type of customer service provides customers with a memorable experience, starting with the initial greeting and ending with the closing interaction. Reaching this level of service often requires a detailed look into your target audience to understand your customers' complete buying process. What sets this level apart is that customers receive outstanding service with every interaction and at every stage of the buying journey. Providing customer service that far exceeds client expectations can provide you with a competitive advantage in the market.

Related: How To Grow Your Customer Base

Tips for providing high-level customer service

Here are some tips to consider if you want to improve your customer service:

Understand your customer base and target audience

Gaining a thorough understanding of your customer base beyond basic demographics such as age, gender and location can help you create stronger connections with existing and prospective customers. There are various methods to better understand your customers, including web analytics, digital footprints, market segmentation and surveys. These reports yield an abundance of data, provide actionable insights and optimize your efforts in delivering products and services.

Establish clear customer service objectives

Clear customer service goals and objectives can help your company, especially those working in customer-facing positions, understand which actions they need to take in order to provide exceptional service. Setting goals for key metrics—such as average response time and customer satisfaction scores— establishes logical guidelines for your team to follow and work toward.

Product and service knowledge

Being knowledgeable about the products and services you or your company offer can help you make product or service recommendations that best fit your clients' needs. Educating the customer about your products ensures the customer has the information they need to make well-informed purchases. Strong product knowledge also enables you to troubleshoot and resolve issues.

Consistently engaging with customers

Today, many customers expect businesses to be active across multiple communication channels, including websites, social media platforms, email and mobile devices. Maintaining consistency across all channels can significantly improve your customers' experience. Identify all the channels customers use so you can develop engagement strategies on multiple platforms.

Collect customer feedback regularly

Gathering customer feedback is one way to gain direct insight into your customers' level of satisfaction. Some methods for collecting customer opinions are surveys, social media, online reviews or in-person feedback. Both constructive and complimentary customer feedback can provide key information about your company's successes and areas for growth.

Consider new ways to meet your customers' needs

Customer needs and demands can fluctuate over a certain period. Continuously finding new ways to meet the needs of your customers often requires ongoing research on their purchasing habits and market trends. Making improvements to your existing products, creating new products or adding services that keep up with trends and demands can help you consistently provide high levels of customer service.

Related: 7 Key Elements To Effective Customer Service

Streamline resolution processes

Proactive efforts are a core aspect of high-level customer service. Creating guidelines for responding to specific inquiries is one way to streamline your resolution processes and anticipate problems before they occur. Compiling a list of the commonly asked questions from your customers can help you establish these guidelines. Doing this also equips your team with an effective way of providing consistent customer support.

Remain transparent

Setting accurate expectations about your products and services is critical in providing exceptional customer service. This entails educating customers about what they can expect from your company, products and services, including quality, pricing information and policies they agree to when they become a customer. Being direct about things like return and cancellation policies helps to establish trust and avoid possible frustration.

Be empathetic

Understanding how your customers feel and being able to put yourself in their position can help you deliver excellent experiences. Ensuring that the company shows willingness to address concerns and resolve issues demonstrates that you respect and value your customers' time.

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