Last year, Nate Brown published an insightful post here saying that collaboration is the key to excellent customer service. Brown’s post highlights some of the importance of employees at all levels engaging with customers and their colleagues to make sure customer needs are met.
Why Collaboration is an Essential Component of Any Customer Service Strategy
Brown made some good tips on creating a more collaborative approach to customer service. However, he didn’t focus as much on the reasons collaboration was needed in the first place, so I felt it was necessary to expand on his post a bit.
Here are some things managers need to understand.
Need for Efficiency
Until the 1990s, companies often only had a couple of people that were responsible for customer service functions. They had limited resources, which made it difficult to serve multiple customers after a fiasco.
More Breadth of Knowledge
Larger customer service teams have larger pools of knowledge to share with their customers. Customer service professionals can specialize in certain products or functions, which increases the quality of support they can offer their customers.
Including Customers in the Process
Collaboration shouldn’t be limited to engagement between customer service professionals. Customers should also be included in the problem-solving process. Steven Van Belleghem conducted a survey and found that self-service customer service has become a popular concept in recent years.
“In order to create an accurate picture of this trend, I conducted a global survey in collaboration with SSI, who managed the actual study, and translation agency No Problem! The conclusion is inescapable: The majority of consumers favor a self-service solution, including the safety net of personal contact if the consumer so chooses. This trend is even more apparent in countries like China, Brazil, and Singapore than is the case in Europe or the U.S.,” Belleghem writes.
What Are the Secrets to a Collaborative Customer Service
Cohesive customer service teams aren’t built overnight. Managers need to take the following steps to set them up.
Have the Right Collaboration Tools in Place
Efficient communication is essential for every customer service department. There are many great tools that customer service professionals can leverage to communicate with each and their customers in real-time. The problem in the past has been that this was done through inefficient communication channels like one to one emails with each customer. In fact, over 15% of an employees work week is taken up by email communications.
This lead to customer service reps being bombarded without an easy way to route emails to the right person based on customer issues or customer service rep work load. Now businesses have access to project management platforms that can use business rules and workflow automation to route the right task to the right employee automatically.
However, Blake Morgan, author of “More Is More: How The Best Companies Work Harder and Go Farther To Create Knock Your Socks Off Customer Experiences”, states that businesses aren’t taking advantage of them.
Break Down the Barriers Between Supervisors and Subordinates
Brown made a very good point in his earlier post. He stated that employees at all levels need to be involved in the customer service. Supervisors need to spend some time on the front lines engaging with customers and their subordinates. This will give them a better sense of the challenges they face every day, the best protocol for resolving issues and the resources their staff need.
Divide Professionals by Expertise
Customer service professionals tend to be more specialized these days. Brands need to identify their service professionals’ strengths and make sure that they are assigned to handle challenges they are best equipped for.
Collaboration is the Key to Exceptional Customer Service
Companies can no longer afford to take ad hoc, one man approaches to delivering customer service. Customer expectations are higher than ever, so businesses need a team of talented professionals to serve them. Fortunately, developing a great customer service team isn’t difficult with the right tools and process.
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