6 Ways to Build a World-Class Customer Service Team
Businesses need to get used to a world where pricing is no longer the major differentiator between businesses. Customer service and experience are now the most common factors that determine customer loyalty–because it’s what makes customers stay and show their trust with repeat purchases.
So, it is imperative to build customer service teams with a structured approach–addressing all the nitty-gritty of running a successful support function that delights customers.
#1 Incorporate a service culture that prioritizes customers over business goals
Service culture refers to any organization’s culture of serving customers and prioritizing them over business outcomes. It is an unspoken understanding that the process of building customer service teams must start with these service culture traits:
Characteristics of world-class customer service teams
|Empathy||Support and product expertise||Going the extra mile|
|Understand problems from customers’ point of view||Take intuitive, independent decisions||Have the urge to WOW customers
|Sound human, don't just serve as a technical facilitator||Collaborate with the right functions to speed up support||Feel alive after every successful resolution|
|Pick up signs of distress from the customer||Know the product completely to earn customer trust||Keep reinventing support approach and improve upon feedback
|Map customer pain points to the right workarounds||Follow the escalation process with an informed approach||Grow a liking for breaking down complexities|
|Act with a sense of urgency||Meet periodic customer service goals like CSAT score||Be a true customer champion|
“Empathy by default” is a motto that customer service teams need to practice with customers. More often than not, customers reach out to support when something has gone wrong, and it’s good to have an agent who understands the issue and acts with a sense of urgency.
Train your customer service teams to put themselves in the shoes of the customer to truly empathize with their problems and resolve their issues like a human, rather than being only a technical facilitator. Gathering feedback proactively allows your agents to get progressively better at customer service and even sense distress calls from customers before-hand.
Support and product expertise
When customers contact you for help or raise an issue, they assume they’re talking to a product expert who knows the pain points in and out. Ensure your customer service teams are well-versed in your product or service so that the support offered to the customer is streamlined without much back-and-forth internally.
Foster a culture of treating SLAs (service level agreements) as something that makes or breaks customer satisfaction. Also, support culture starts from the top. To drive your customer service teams in the right direction, CEOs need to experience what it is like to be a support agent for their companies. That would give them complete context about how to finesse the existing processes, shortcomings in the product department, and also ideas for the future.
CEOonSupport is one such initiative from Girish Mathrubootham, the CEO of Freshworks, that emphasizes support starts from the top.
Going above and beyond
In 2012, the little-known city of Bethel, Alaska heard the news of Taco Bell setting up an outlet there. The people of Bethel were excited as the nearest city with a Taco Bell outlet was Anchorage – about 300 miles away. Unfortunately, it ended up being an elaborate social media hoax.
But instead of letting the rumor slide, Taco Bell planned an unforgettable gesture for its customers. They flew into Bethel on a helicopter, carrying a truck full of taco ingredients and made 10,000 tacos in a day. “Operation Alaska” was a huge media sensation that earned Taco Bell global praise.
This is a great example of how a brand can reward loyal customers with memorable gestures. They speak volumes about how much you value your customers. Read about more such heart-warming customer examples, from which you can adopt an idea or two for your company.
#2 Define customer service roles based on skills
Identify the different types of customer service skills that are necessary for a well-rounded customer service team. This will also help your support agents chart a career progression for themselves and identify their strengths. For instance, you may identify a support agent with great writing skills, that may have earned them appreciation from customers. These prospects can be further identified as potential user educator, who can spin contextual stories while educating customers.
Here are a few examples of diverse customer service roles that make for high-performing customer service teams:
- Customer service trainer
- User Educator / KB (Knowledge Base) Analyst
- Customer Service Data Analyst
- Customer Service Operations
- Team Lead
- Frontline Support Rep
- Tech Support
Identify the skill levels of agents in different roles and assign them to appropriate customer service teams based on the support areas where they show expertise.
#3 Empower your customer service teams with the right tools
It is imperative that you have the right tools and technology that make your customer service teams more efficient. Keep in mind the functionalities that would improve agent productivity and make supporting customers is a breeze.
For instance, if team collaboration was a problem, the average first response time will be delayed, or maybe a poor team dashboard isn’t giving enough visibility to the teams’ tasks and outcomes. Here are a few examples of tools that will improve the performance of your customer service teams
Helpdesks are now a quintessential addition to any customer service team that is looking at scaling up in the foreseeable future. Cluttered inboxes and excel sheets are no longer sustainable in a world where customers are earned through exceptional digital experiences.
The ideal helpdesk would give you a 360-degree view of every customer, their purchase history, prior conversations through all channels, types of requests, and related trends–all in one place. Relevant groups of support agents can be created for different types of queries, so that incoming customer queries are automatically routed to the right customer service teams.
This would make support a lot easier for customer service teams. A helpdesk ensures that support agents keep tabs on pending customer requests, high priority tickets, cross-team collaboration, CSAT scores, and other KPIs.
- Internal communication: Internal communication tools are the ones that facilitate communication between employees from the workplace. Slack, for instance, is a great collaboration tool with nifty integrations. Calls, video conferences, calendar, everything can be accessed from one place, saving invaluable time.
- Video conferencing: Onboard a video conferencing tool that is popular among customers and known for its smooth functioning. Zoom is one app that is popping up in every workplace for its simplicity and a lag-free video conferencing experience.
- Inter-team collaboration: Inter-team collaboration tools help in working efficiently with other teams and functions to resolve issues together. Freshconnect is a helpdesk integration that allows customer service teams to collaborate with product, billing, and vendor functions to support customers–within a ticket on the helpdesk. This eliminates the need for support agents to breathe upon the neck of other functions to resolve customer issues, and fosters accountable autonomy in the workplace.
#4 Create a standardized customer service process to follow
Analyze every customer touchpoint
The preferences of customers and their touchpoints vary based on what the business caters to. If it’s telecom or hospitality, customers prefer to reach out via Twitter, where they expect swift resolutions. On the other hand, B2B software customers may try to get their work done over the live chat of the vendor website or emailing their dedicated account manager. Analyze these touchpoint trends and draw a plan to allocate and diversify your customer service teams on the right channels.
Curate a seamless customer journey
Create a customer journey that maps the process flow to provide consistent, seamless customer service. Understanding the customer journey will help you understand every stage of the customer life-cycle from being a prospect into a loyal customer. The process also needs to include a proper escalation matrix for agents to follow for the odd day where a customer situation gets out of hand.
Other standardization processes include creating workflows specific for holidays, festivals, and high-demand periods where the customer query volume tends to hit the roof.
#5 Use self-service portals to manage query volume
According to a survey report called The New Rules of Customer Engagement (2019), 76% of consumers globally prefer to ﬁrst try to solve issues on their own before contacting support. This is why self-service is fast becoming a permanent fixture in customer service.
Self-service portal is a great functionality that offloads customer service teams from a large volume of customer queries. Answers for basic customer queries can be set up as FAQs, knowledgebase, and solution articles–from which support agents can plug-in the best answers as responses.
#6 Reward and recognize great customer service
Workplace appreciation and validation go a long way in motivating customer service teams. Incentivizing your team’s customer service efforts will show how much you care for them. Metrics can be set-up for other channels and weighed against common benchmarks to recognize your employees with helpdesk badges and incentives.
The customer service agents can work more diligently when they are given first-response and resolution-time goals. But to make sure that goals are met without hiccups, your customer service needs a helpdesk that is intuitive, non-bloated, and easy-to-use.
Helpdesk gamification is another way to encourage customer service teams to wow customers at every turn. Gamifying the entire support process can create a healthy competition in your customer service team. It also gives them the much-needed motivation to serve customers better.
Own the art of building customer service teams
- Define teams based on various customer service roles. Encourage your agents to evaluate themselves and find their ideal customer service role.
- Streamline internal communication and enhance support quality across all touchpoints.
- Train the new hires to understand the customer service culture of your organization.
- Implement self-service as a major customer service channel.
- Collaborate with multiple departments within a ticket, to enforce accountability and create consistency in support processes.