Institute of Commercial Management | Qualification Subject

Customer Service

Main Topics of Study


What is Customer Service?

  • Importance of customer service
  • Understanding customer satisfaction
  • Excellent customer service
  • Five needs of every customer
  • Internal and external customers
  • Customer attributes
  • Cost of losing a customer

Challenges and Solutions

Challenges of Customer Service

  • Elements of success
  • Barriers to excellent customer service
  • Power of perceptions
  • Understanding expectations
  • Levels of expectations
  • Scope of influence
  • Reputation management
  • Techniques for exceeding customer expectations
  • Keys to credibility
  • Importance of values
  • Ethics in customer service
  • Current status of customer service
  • New trends in customer service

Problem Solving

  • Role of problem solving in customer service
  • Creativity and problem solving
  • Problems as opportunities
  • Confronting conflict
  • Problem solving process
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Development of negotiation skills
  • Professional approaches to apologising and conveying bad news
  • Barriers to problem solving and decision making
  • Importance of follow up

Management and Strategy

Strategy and Formulating a Plan for Success

  • Why a strategy?
  • Planning
  • Importance of infrastructure
  • Culture
  • High touch and low touch customers
  • Consumption behaviour
  • Segmenting the market
  • Developing a strategy


  • What is empowerment?
  • Importance of mission and purpose statement
  • Empowerment = opportunity
  • Steps to empowering customer service providers
  • Co-production of customer service
  • Why co-production works
  • Design of systems


Communications in Customer Service

  • Building customer intelligence
  • Methods of communication
  • Listening
  • Voice inflection as a customer service tool
  • Telephones and customer service
  • Words to use/avoid
  • Power phrases
  • Power of eye contact
  • Appeal to the senses
  • Communication and technology

Managing Difficult Customers

Coping with Challenging Customers

  • Who are challenging customers?
  • Why they are challenging
  • Creating challenging customers
  • Characteristics of challenging customers
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Responsibility check
  • What to do when you are wrong
  • Benefits from dealing with challenging customers

Motivation and Leadership


  • What is motivation?
  • Needs and wants
  • Motivating factors
  • Understanding morale
  • Self-concept and motivation
  • Improving self-concept
  • Power of self motivation
  • Teamwork
  • Motivating others

Leadership in Customer Service

  • Leadership defined
  • Knowing yourself
  • Formal and informal leaders
  • Coach or counsellor
  • Characteristics of excellent leaders
  • Leadership and goals
  • Creating a customer service culture
  • Benefit of job aids
  • Leadership without position
  • The boss as a customer

Customer Retention and Measurement of Satisfaction

  • What is customer retention?
  • Value of existing customers
  • Churn
  • Developing and improving the customer retention programme
  • Measurement of satisfaction
  • Sources of information
  • Benefits of measuring your effectiveness
  • Determining your effectiveness
  • Surveys and reality
  • Evaluating your own performance
  • Business benefits from measuring satisfaction

Technology and Customer Service

  • Today’s changing marketplace
  • The customer of the twenty-first century
  • Embracing new technologies
  • Call centres
  • The internet
  • Enhancing service experiences and building customer loyalty

Excellence in Customer Service

  • Excellence as the goal
  • Getting started
  • Rewards of excellent customer service

Recommended Reading

Main Text:

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Customer Service: A Practical Approach 6th Edition – Elaine K Harris (Prentice Hall)

Indicative Text:

Alternative Text and Further Reading: