Building a customer service department is like building a treehouse. There are several ways to do it, but without some strategy and logical steps that should follow one another, the whole affair can comeapart at the worst possible time. If you’re looking to provide your clients with a solid, reliable, and efficient customer service, you need a solid plan. Whether you want to restructure the existing team you’ve been managing for a while or set up a support department from the scratch, the steps are basically the same.
Almost every company out there claims to be offering great customer service, but not all customers can testify of a great experience, so there’s clearly a gap between definitions of greatness, and wherever there’s a gap, there’s an opportunity for improvement. When building a support department, you need to determine the level of service you’ll provide, and include the entire team in making the definition of quality. Once you’ve come to terms with ‘great service’ you have a module against which you can measure your support team performance.
Exceed customer expectations
One way of standing out from your competitors is by consistently exceeding your client’s expectations. This includes knowing the typical response time in your industry, the tone, language, and attitude when dealing with customers’ complaints, the way of dealing with disagreements, the situations when you’re unable to provide support, identifying the key customer service positions in your company, and the ethical principles you’re vowed to uphold. Although these might seem like high-level expectations, they might serve as guidelines for your proprietary reply styles and standards.
Decide on key channels
It’s always better to provide exceptional support on a few channels than spreading your manpower too thin, only to give unsatisfactory service. Identify the channels your existing customers are using the most, and do some research on your target audience, to make sure you cover those platforms as well. Keep in mind that different products and service match more naturally to different support channels. While technical support is often best done over email, it can be frustrating on the phone, while live chat is perfect for retail where a two-way discussion with a knowledgeable agent is often a key to success.
Choose the right tools
Struggling with slow and unreliable equipment not only wastes your support team’s time and energy but also damages your company’s valuable customer experience. Customer service teams often depend heavily on internal systems like custom database searches, configuration pages, and logging systems that allow them to access customer information, fix issues, and report back to the company, and need a reliable 3G modem solution that supports serial data communications across a wide range of platforms, offers reliable performance, universal installation, and remote control in any data environment.
Hire a great team
When hiring support team members, you should identify the ideal personality for the support role. You need emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and resourceful individuals who excel in spoken and written communication but are also able to grasp factors specific to your company culture. Then comes the question of specific technical skills, licenses or software knowledge that is essential to the position. Make sure your job description, screening process, and interview questions list all the necessary skill requirements, discerning essentials from bonus skills.
Measure the relevant data
Many customer support service activities are related to measuring. As your help desk software keeps producing detailed customer service reports, you need to know which metrics are of relevance to your team and what you should do about them. Start with understanding the questions you’re trying to answer. For instance, whether the number of your support staff is sufficient to deal with all the requests on time, or the group or target area most of your support requests are coming from. If you want to request for more support staff, focus your reporting on trends that showcase volume per agent and the correlation between customer satisfaction and speed of reply.
Compile the knowledge base
Although developing an extensive knowledge base is time-consuming, your investment will return tenfold when your customers start finding answers on their own, reducing the strain on your support team. These knowledge bases also facilitate the greater consistency of support, saving time when a response to a common customer question is needed. Apart from providing the support team with a quick reply tool, you can also help the customer by pointing out there’s a knowledge base at their disposal at any time. On the other hand, retaking time to record how certain issues are handled will allow new team members to grow their skills without disrupting the exiting team.
A customer support department is ongoing project that doesn’t seem to have an end but adapts over time, as the market is changing, as your clients are changing, and your team learns. While new channels of support might be added over time, with new tools allowing the teams to set new targets, great customer support always starts with a good definition of ‘great’.