With the rise of digital channels and the increase in customer expectations, providing excellent customer service is critical to the success of any business. But what does it truly mean to understand customer service, and how can businesses ensure they are providing the best service possible?  

In this blog post, we will explore everything you need to know about understanding customer service, from identifying customer needs to discussing golden rules of customer service. Whether you are a business owner or a customer service representative, this blog will provide you with the tools and insights you need to improve your customer service and build long-term customer relationships.

Understanding customer service vs customer experience: What’s their key difference?

Customer service is the direct interaction between a customer and a company, typically through channels such as phone, email, or in-person interactions. This includes providing assistance, answering questions, and resolving problems or complaints. 

Customer experience, on the other hand, encompasses all interactions and touchpoints a customer has with a company, from researching products or services before making a purchase, to post-purchase follow-up. It also includes the design and functionality of a company's website, physical store, or product. 

In other words, customer service is a part of the customer experience, but it's not the whole picture. A good customer experience is not only about resolving problems quickly and efficiently, but also about anticipating and proactively addressing customer needs, and designing products and services that meet those needs. 

The relation between the two is that they are closely linked. Understanding customer service vs customer experience can help improve how your business interacts with customers resulting in increased customer lifetime value. Companies that have a customer-centric culture and prioritize customer experience often find that they also have better customer service as a result.

What are the 6 basic customer needs in service? 

It’s important to note that customer needs are not unique to all customers, as each individual may have different priorities or needs. However, here are the 6 basic needs of customers that companies must know in understanding customer service and how to deliver a great one:

1. Quality: Customers want products and services that meet their expectations in terms of functionality and durability. A great example of this is a high-end smartphone that is built to last and has features that are useful to the customer. 

2. Value: Customers want to feel that they are getting a good deal, and that the cost of a product or service is proportional to its benefits. A sale on a well-liked item at a bargain retailer, where the buyer feels they are getting a fantastic price, is a good demonstration of this.

3. Convenience: Customers prefer services and goods that are simple to use and access. An excellent illustration of this is a fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru where customers may quickly and simply receive the meal they want.

4. Service: Customers want prompt, friendly, and helpful service from a company's employees. This need is only fulfilled if there’s a customer service representative who goes above and beyond to help them  resolve their issues. 

5. Customization: Fulfilling this need allows customers to feel like the product or service they are receiving is tailored specifically to their individual needs and preferences. For example, a clothing company that offers custom-made garments for its customers is fulfilling the customer need for customization.

6. Empathy: Customers want to feel that the company understands their problem, feeling or sentiment. Too often, understanding customer service means being willing to see things from the customer's point of view. A great example is a customer support agent that truly listens to a customer's concerns and takes the time to understand the customer's situation.

What is the 10-5-3 rule in customer service? 

The 10-5-3 rule is among guidelines for customer service that suggests that a customer service representative should: 

1. Make eye contact and smile at every customer within 10 feet 

2. Greet and speak to every customer within 5 feet 

3. Make contact and engage with every customer within 3 feet 

The rule is meant to ensure that service representatives are proactive in engaging with customers and providing excellent customer service. By following the rule, service representatives are able to build rapport with customers, address any issues or concerns they may have, and ultimately provide a positive customer experience. 

For example, a cashier at a grocery store should make eye contact and smile at every customer within 10 feet, greet and speak to every customer within 5 feet, and make contact and engage with every customer within 3 feet. This means that as soon as a customer comes within 10 feet of the cashier, the cashier should make eye contact and smile, as they come within 5 feet, they should greet them, and as they come within 3 feet, they should be ready to start the transaction.

What are the 4 golden rules of customer service? 

Companies that strictly follow customer service rules tend to have more satisfied and loyal customers, and ultimately more success in the marketplace. Here are the 4 rules for great customer service that you should observe all the time to keep your customers happy and satisfied:

The customer is always right

This rule emphasizes the importance of treating customers with respect and putting their needs first, even if you disagree with their point of view. Example: A customer returns an item after using it for a week and the store's policy only allows returns within a day, but the store still accepts the return to maintain a positive customer relationship. 

Listen actively

This rule stresses the importance of truly listening to customers' complaints and concerns, and understanding their point of view. Example: A customer is upset because a delivery was late, a customer service representative listens attentively and apologizes for the inconvenience and offers a solution. 

Show empathy

This rule suggests that customer service representatives should be able to understand and share the feelings of their customers, and use that understanding to help them. Example: A customer has just lost a loved one and is canceling a trip that was planned, an agent expresses sympathy and helps the customer through the process of canceling the trip. 


This rule demonstrates the importance of following up with customers after a problem has been resolved, to ensure that they are satisfied with the outcome and that any issues have been fully resolved. Example: A customer has a problem with a product and it's fixed, the company follow-up with the customer to confirm that they are satisfied and to gather feedback.

What is the most important rule of customer service?

Since each rule is crucial to providing successful customer experience, there are differing views on which rule is the most important. The "customer is always right" guideline, which emphasizes treating the client with respect and putting their needs first, might be the most significant rule of customer service, according to some industry experts.

The fact that this rule establishes the tone for all other customer service interactions makes it extremely important. Customers are more likely to be satisfied with the service they receive and make repeat purchases with the business when they are treated with respect and value. It also underlines the significance of attempting to understand and see things from the perspective of the customer. To sum up, a customer is more likely to have a favorable experience with a business when they feel that their demands and complaints are understood and addressed.

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