Customers have always been the lifeblood of every business, which is why proper customer service team management is a must-have for any company. But how do you improve your customer service and deliver a positive, long-lasting experience when customers are more demanding than ever? Customer service team management might be the answer.
What is customer service team management?
Customer service team management is the process of training, developing, and managing your company’s customer service staff. Proper customer service team management teaches your staff how to:
- Resolve customer complaints
- Handle critical inquiries
- Handle daily operations of the customer service department
The outcome usually implies developing a comprehensive system that provides you guidelines, courses of action, and emergency plans when interacting with your customers.
Hence, managing a customer service team is one of the most challenging jobs out there. You have a lot of responsibility, a lot of stress, and not many resources on hand. In other words, you’re both the teacher and the follower, tasked to provide the right service knowledge at the right time; while consistently improving processes and finding better ways to serve your customers.
Why is customer service team management important?
Customer service can help transform any organization into a leading performer, boosting sales and profits, as well as loyalty towards the brand.
Customer service influences purchase decisions by 84%. Image source.
Customer service management includes, but is not limited to:
- Relationship management — Assigning customers the type of support they need to solve their issues.
- Service management — Managing how your customer service team responds to calls, emails, and chats with customers, plus managing internal processes to minimize complaints.
- Analytics — Monitoring how your team performs.
Customer service teams are crucial for any organization because they help retain customers and are an integral part of any business that wants to stay ahead of the competition. Here’s how you can successfully manage your customer service team.
1. Service quality: define what is important to the customer
Customer service can take on many different forms. For example, it can be a service that helps your sales team close more deals or it could be a customer service department that works on resolving customer support tickets.
When creating a customer service team, it’s essential to identify what service quality the department should provide. Service quality represents a statement that describes what your customers should expect from you. The five key elements of service quality you should consider are:
Each of them is equally important to the overall customer experience. For most companies, defining what quality service represents is an ongoing process that will influence how you hire, train, and develop your customer service team.
Make sure everyone in your company understands the definition of quality service and shares the same goals. Define what you want to offer to your customers and assure yourself your customer service team is aligned with your vision.
Poor customer service leads to a 47.1% decrease in business. Image source.
If you can align your company values with those of your customers, you’ll be in a considerably stronger position to deliver on your promises. Once you have set the standard for your company, your customer service team can use it as a benchmark against which to measure itself and its performance.
2. Hire the right talent for your customer service team
A company that recognizes the importance of customer service can’t just have great people. You’ll need the right people with customer service skills to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
The cost of poor customer service. Image source.
A customer service representative needs to have the ability to:
- Understand the customer’s motivation for contacting your team.
- Understand customer’s concerns, desires, and expectations.
- Quickly pick up on customer behaviors, wants, needs, and frustrations.
- Respond to issues efficiently.
- Make quick decisions based on your customer’s needs.
- Create a solution that will satisfy the customer.
- Communicate clearly and professionally in all situations.
- Follow the customer service strategy.
- Work with each team member efficiently.
- Set and accomplish goals.
Customer service team members must possess a diverse range of soft skills, such as writing, presentation skills, organizational skills, and time management. It’s all about people skills and communicating effectively.
The ability to empathize with customers is important because customers tend to look to customer service representatives as a source of comfort. A customer service representative is often the first person who can witness a problem before it can be solved. That means that they need to be able to put themselves in your customer’s shoes and understand how their problem may be affecting them.
This ability will help you deliver consistently positive customer experiences, no matter the circumstances. Clients also expect a “warm” experience, which means being treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
3. Combine multiple communication channels for the best results
When it comes to customer service, it’s a good idea to be transparent with your customers about which channels they can reach you on. It can help them feel reassured about your brand and it will allow you to forge a stronger relationship with them.
When building a customer service strategy, it’s important to remember that the more channels you dedicate to customer service, the easier it’ll make it for your customers to reach out if there’s a problem with your product or service.
Here are some of the most popular customer service channels.
The most popular customer service channels. Image source.
Email has many advantages as a customer service channel. It gives you more time to research and think of a suitable response, allowing you to include more information than if you’re making a call or sending an instant message. Ways to improve your email correspondence approach:
- Define your email support approach.
- Personalize your email experience.
- Use a positive, friendly tone when speaking to your customers.
- Proofread your email content.
- Be clear about the information and resources available.
- Promise a timely result, then deliver.
- Proactively follow up.
Email is popular because it’s convenient and it works asynchronously. People can access their email from any desktop or mobile device, and respond whenever they want.
Phone support is one of the best ways for a business to communicate with customers. Why? Because customers find it easier and more convenient to speak directly to a person. Voice calls are often preferred to written communication because they are more personal, easy to follow, and easy to understand.
Choose a platform that enables you to view live calls and respond to customer inquiries. Consider how many people are on the call and how you want them to respond. The team has to be empowered in order to prioritize customer concerns, take action, and offer follow-up information without your direct intervention.
If your customer service teams are all in different locations it doesn’t mean they can’t work with each other. A business phone system like Ringblaze can connect multiple teams and customers seamlessly, supporting your customer service goals.
Ringblaze empowers your customer service team and helps you:
- Create multiple toll-free, local, or vanity phone numbers.
- Monitor all activities using one dashboard.
- Call your customers and forward calls.
- Import your customers’ list.
- Conduct customer relationship analysis and evaluate team results.
You can also consider apps like talkdesk that help you save time and improve your workflow.
Set up your system for high levels of availability, with appropriate reporting and integrated tools for managing costs and reducing call time.
Live chat support is a real-time customer service tool that allows your customers to chat with your team through a company website or mobile messaging apps.
Its main advantage is that you can connect with your customers on several touchpoints throughout their customer journey. You can answer their questions, address their concerns, or even close the deal.
How live chat influences customer satisfaction rate. Image source.
Since providing a positive experience through chat is also crucial for your brand personality, assign a chat rep in place who’s knowledgeable about the products or services you offer.
Because social media is so prevalent, customers want to connect and engage with brands regularly. Recent studies show that:
- Over 30% of customers now contact brands via social media. (Nielsen)
- Over 64% of millennials believe social media to be an effective form of communication with businesses. (Microsoft)
Social media is your most powerful tool for customer engagement and customer service. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, the ability to reach out to your customers in an instant and solve any problems they may have is huge.
You can use social media for customer service by providing answers to frequently asked questions or posting videos that show how to use your products and services. You can also respond to comments on your page and answer questions. Additionally, you can use social media for customer service by asking for feedback and using that feedback to change your products or services.
A social media customer service policy will keep your team aligned. Here are a few actionable steps:
- Discover what your customers want or need, and understand why they’re contacting you.
- Align customer needs with customer service goals.
- Train your team on the policy.
- Review and update the policy regularly.
Create a customer support forum
Forums are great for answering questions related to your business.
So instead of customers sending the same issue to your support team, they can just search for it and see the answer based on previous responses. It saves you precious time because you no longer need to go through the same process multiple times over.
Unlike FAQ lists or blog posts, which are static documents or entries that are created after the fact, a forum is a space where new topics can be created and addressed in real-time. It means that you can begin to notice trends in customer behavior and address them quickly, by creating and answering new threads or topics.
Develop knowledge base
A knowledge base is a web-based system that stores and shares useful information for your customers. It allows users to pose questions and receive immediate, specific answers. It’s a great tool for self-serve research.
Why should you create a knowledge base?
- A knowledge base centralizes all your data in one place.
- There are fewer standard inquiries.
- It makes you deliver consistent service in all channels.
If your customers ask the same questions over and over again, you should consider creating an effective knowledge base. It’s a great way to deliver the information customers are looking for without the need for one-on-one conversations with them.
A knowledge base offers solutions to specific problems and is structured in a way that makes it easy to search and find the answers your customers need. It should be topical and specific to the products and services your company offers.
With a dedicated knowledge base, customer service teams can find accurate information and respond to customers quickly and effectively. It can help reduce the number of support tickets and calls, as customers can find the answers they need.
4. Keep your customer service team running with the right tools
Today’s customer service software solutions offer a wide variety of tools to help you track the progress and quality of your customer service interactions.
The first thing you need to think about when it comes to building and managing a customer service team is what tools and technologies you’re going to use. Where will you store the support tickets? How will your support agents work? What will they have access to? What about analytics? Is it likely to be a one-size-fits-all solution?
Tools and infrastructure such as a tool for customer support, any software that automates tasks, and a team of well-trained staff members are essential.
Set up your CRM to automate as many of the administrative processes as possible to make your team’s life easier. Have a tool that gathers all of the information related to a customer’s interaction with your team, for example, the date of the interaction, the agent handling it, their name, address, phone number, or any other relevant information that you can use in the future.
Once you’ve settled on a solution, the next step is to think about what level of training you will provide to your team. How will you set up and maintain your system? Will you need help from an external consultant for setting it up?
5. Prevent friction and work on internal communication
Foster communication between your team members and make sure they stay updated on every customer touchpoint. Not only does this keep the team members on the same page, but it also assists them in being more efficient, which means fewer customer complaints.
Customer service is a team sport. And one of the easiest ways to reduce stress is by getting the team working together even if they are not physically at the same location.
Create an open line of communication. That means one central system for all of your team’s communication—email, online chat, phone, and more.
6. Make data-driven decisions
Your team needs to know exactly what information your company uses to provide customer support.
This includes the typical contact methods you use, as well as for analytics about the behavior of your customers, the time they spend on your site, the contact notes they send, and even the content of their email. All this information helps you make your customer service teams much more efficient, at the same time understanding your customers in a much more holistic manner.
Each customer service interaction can be a learning opportunity. Collecting both quantitative and qualitative feedback from customers is the best way to capture a customer’s entire experience. This kind of data will help you:
- Identify and fix recurring issues
- Get actionable insights to improve customer retention
- Predict customers behavior based on previous interactions
- Update and improve your customer-oriented documentation
- Help you identify patterns in users’ behavior
The main thing to remember is that not all customer data is useful. It’s up to customer service managers to identify what key data points will have the greatest impact on their customer service strategy.
Satisfied Customers Create Successful Businesses
Whether you’re a small business or a large company, the goals are the same: to ensure that customers have the utmost confidence in your business by providing a first-class, positive experience.
Ultimately, following these instructions you’ll increase sales, retain customers, and even a competitive edge. If you take the time to carefully plan for and manage your customer service team, you’ll make your customers happy and receive repeat business for the long term.
About the Author
Dennis Vu is the CEO and Co-founder of Ringblaze, a virtual business phone system company that helps teams to better serve their customers, anywhere.