Face-to-Face Customer Service: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

While online and over-the-phone customer service are all the rage, face-to-face customer service is making a comeback. In this lesson, we'll define exactly what that is, and look at a few examples of companies embracing it.

Models of Customer Service

Kyra needs to talk to someone about a purchase she had recently made. She could log on to the store's website and use the live chat feature, email them, or engage in a conversation with the brand on social media. She could also call the company's 800 number.

But Kyra is kind of old-school. Instead of relying on modern forms of customer service, she decides to get in her car, travel to the store, and talk to a customer service representative directly.

Thanks to advances in technology and the internet, consumers have tons of choices for how to engage in customer service before, during, or after a sale. One of the oft-forgotten channels of customer service, however, is the face-to-face model.

What is Face-to-Face Customer Service?

Face-to-face customer service is, not surprisingly, exactly what it sounds like. It's providing assistance to customers in a more personal manner. Rather than relying on email, the telephone, or the internet, face-to-face customer service requires the customer and a trained representative of the business to be physically present in the same location.

While technology enables many channels for interacting with consumers, a face-to-face approach requires a customer to come to your location. It typically offers an opportunity to make a more personable impression on the customer seeking help. With face-to-face customer service, some important characteristics are necessary in order to ensure that consumers have a positive experience. Let's take a look at a few.

Face-to-Face Necessities

Since many of our customer service experiences these days are orchestrated behind a computer screen or over a telephone line, essential features can be lost. If you're interacting with a customer face-to-face, remember these points:

1. Be welcoming. Face-to-face customer service can be enhanced simply by hiring employees who smile and welcome consumers to the store.

2. Brush up on product information. If a consumer has taken time to visit your store, be sure you have a firm grasp of product features and company policies.

3. Watch your body language. A lot can be inferred from the way you stand, hold your arms or use your eyes. Show that you're attentive, kind and thoughtful.

4. Listen. Be empathetic to your customer's needs and work diligently to find a solution that satisfies both sides. You should listen more than you talk so that customers know that their questions or comments are being heard.

5. See things from a different perspective. Try to imagine the customer service scenario from the consumer's point of view. It will make you think twice about your own actions, in terms of both how you'd want to be treated and how you'd want your situation to be handled.

6. Send customers on their way with smiles on their faces. You succeeded at making a good first impression when a customer approached you upon entering the store. Ensure that customers leave your store with the same good impression and an overall positive experience.

Face-to-Face Examples

Think back on face-to-face customer service experiences you've had, and see how many of them relate to the examples we'll look at below.


Walmart, despite having online customer service options, is also well-known for its in-store customer service desks. At the customer service desk, consumers can meet face-to-face with store representatives to do everything from exchanging a purchased item to buying a money order.

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