Great customer service feels great. If you don’t feel great, you’re not doing it right.
I’ve worked in customer service for a long time. I’ve been part of many different successful customer service teams. I’ve done customer service for high profile companies, government entities, educational institutions, and small businesses. The great thing about working in customer service is that even though the product or service may change, the basics to delivering an exceptional customer service experience remain virtually the same.
Even though every customer is different, and with each customer service situation you may have different levels of service requirements, there are some customer service basics that you can be sure will be effective in creating a customer focused team every time. Here are 5 tips to starting a new customer service team on the right track.
1. Create customer service goals
There’s a big different between just answering phones and emails while giving customers information and having an actual plan for developing a customer service culture. You have to decide what you want to accomplish, what your specific customers expect from you, and then identify the necessary actions that will help you accomplish both. The best customer service goals are those that marry the customer service team’s desire for productivity and value to the business and the customer’s desire for quality, caring customer service.
2. Find passion in customer service
The easiest path to fantastic customer service experiences is to be passionate about service. If you are passionate about making customer happy, surround yourself with passionate, service oriented people, and have clear goals and effective service practices, you are already ahead of most customer service teams. Customer service today is treated as menial work. It’s disregarded as minimum wage work, but makes some of the greatest impact to those who impact the bottom line of a business, the customer.
Delivering great customer service experiences consistently is tough, and requires belief, determination, perseverance, and momentum to keep you working, even when things don’t quite work out right. If you’re passionate about customer service, it’ll keep you going forward during even the hardest times.
3. Measure effecitve customer service actions
Customer service management is often bipolar. You have the call centers who measure everything, but make too much emphasis of those customer service metrics that are best for the business, but not for the customer. Then you have other customer service teams that don’t measure anything at all and are often left wondering if they are really being effective for their customers. You need a combination of the two.
Handle time may be a sexy item to show on a business report, but your customers don’t care about that. Your customers do care about resolution times, meaning, can you fix customer issues or answer customer questions quickly. Find out which metrics are best for the customer, focus on those. Once you’ve got that down, you can start looking at the rest, but don’t go overboard.
4. Find the best customer service people for your customers
You have to be able to convince the most talented people to join your customer service mission. They may not be the most skills in business or technology, but they will be those people who will be best capable of connecting with your customers and making working with your team a delight. In hiring the best customer service people, I’ve passed on very technical and experienced individuals simply because I knew they wouldn’t be able to connect with our customers. I’ve also hired people who have taken much longer than normal to train on our systems, but that was ok because they were fantastic with our customers…and our customers let us know.
At first you may question your decision to do this, but when you see review after review from customers expressing how wonderful it was to work with your customer service team, it validates your decision to hire the best people for your customers.
5. Act out for positive customer service
Every company can be known for their fantastic customer service. What company sets out to deliver the worst customer service possible? The reason most fail with their service experience is because they don’t act on their desire to deliver an exceptional experience. Service isn’t hard, the principles of service are easy. But you have to act. It’s too easy to just keep doing things the way the’ve always been done. Break that cycle, resolve to make a difference.
You don’t have to do it all today. You don’t even have to do it all at once. Start with one little change today, then another tiny change tomorrow. Speak out. Step out. Break the chains of bad customer service. Your customers deserve better. You deserve better. Great customer service feels great. If you don’t feel great, you’re not doing it right.
Did I leave any basic tips out? What have you found absolutely necessary when starting out to create great customer service?
If you have (or are starting) a customer service team, then this article is worth reading. I especially agree with tactic number four, which is to find the best customer service people to interact with your customers. It's not about staffing for customer service. It's about staffing the right people for customer service.