Institute of Commercial Management | Qualification Subject

Customer Service

ICM Professional Diploma Unit


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

Example Candidate Response Booklet

Example Candidate Response (ECR) Booklets are a source of crucial information for Centres and Candidates as they use real candidate responses. We ask Senior Examiners to comment on five or more responses in terms of why the mark was awarded with commentary about how to improve the answer (if necessary).

Recommended Reading

Main Text:

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

Indicative Text:

Alternative Text and Further Reading: