Customer service is a science and it is possible to train your employees to offer better service to their customers. According to a study by NewVoiceMedia, companies in the United States lost an estimated $41 billon each year due to poor customer service. Not surprising then that nearly one in three customers who were contacted as part of a survey felt that they would rather ‘clean a toilet’ than speak with customer service.
So where do we start to fix this? The first and foremost step is in identifying what your customer wants. At the most basic level, customers expect two things from the support staff that they converse with – empathy and product knowledge. An untrained staff who does not know the product well is likely to frustrate the customer more than they already are. Also, regardless of how many cases of abuse you deal with on a daily basis, it is still important to listen to every customer complaint with empathy and not treat them with suspicion.
This is however easier said than done. No matter how well your support staff is trained, their performance still depends on the infrastructure that is available to them. Your customers’ engagement with the support staff needs to be seamless and this can happen with the following steps.
Contact center integration: Most businesses make use of a contact center software to handle incoming support calls. This software needs to be integrated with the CRM and your internal knowledge management tools. This way, your support rep will have instant information about the customer (the products they own, their previous complaints, etc.) as well as specific product level information that they can instantly access and help the customer with.
Support resolution team: The support staff in your organization have two roles to play – response and resolution. The response team is customer-facing and takes care of new support requests. The resolution team works in the back-end and take each support request to their logical conclusion. Not only that the resolution team should also be responsible for constantly updating the knowledge management system so that the response team has all the latest information about the product at their fingertips.
Evaluation based on customer feedback: Businesses measure support staff performance metrics like average customer ratings, which is a good thing. But the evaluation is also based on other factors like the average number of calls attended in a shift and the time spent on each call. While this is clearly to maximize the productivity of your employees, this can backfire. Employees who have unrealistic workloads tend to have lower job satisfaction and this leads to higher attrition and also poorer performance. By evaluating strictly on the customer feedback, you are likely to encourage employees to treat their customers better and this improves the overall service offered to your customers.
Businesses need to be proactive about fixing customer complaints and ensuring job satisfaction. Failing this, they tend to get stereotyped as customer-unfriendly and when this happens, it can be extremely challenging to overcome such stereotypes.