Whether you are starting your customer service from scratch or you have been managing a team for a while and want to ensure it is structured to succeed, we listed up 4 building blocks that make a solid foundation.
Define ‘great customer service’ for your company
Nearly every company claims to provide great customer service, but not all customers have a great experience, so clearly there’s opportunity for improvement. It starts with the definition of “great.”
When building a support department, you need to define the quality of service. Once you have defined for your company what “great service” is, you have a standard against which to measure your support team. So how do you define great customer service? Start with aligning it with your organizational values. One of Atlassian’s core values is “Don’t #@!% the customer.” As crazy as that sounds, it is part of their definition of “great service,” which means the support team (and the whole company) is trained to never break that value. So, if your company values integrity or speed, for example, those values should inform your definition of great service, and you should set your team up to deliver on those values.
Keep in mind that customer service teams can only offer service as good as the rest of the company will allow. If your CEO is Michael O’Leary from RyanAir, you’ll have some pretty clear boundaries to your level of service.
Exceed customers’ expectations
If you want to stand out from your competitors, you also need to consistently exceed your customers’ expectations.
What are the typical response times in your industry and of your biggest competitors? How can you beat that? What level of service are your prospective customers used to, and how can you repeatedly improve on their expectations to delight them over time? When you think in this way, you establish your company’s unique definition of great service that others will then have to compete against.
Set expectations by asking the following questions:
- How quickly will you respond to customers?
- How will your team behave when dealing with customers (tone, language, attitude)?
- How will you handle disagreements?
- What (if anything) are you not able to support?
- What channels will we support?
- Who in the company is responsible for customer service?
- What ethical principles will you hold to?
These are high level expectations, but they can be used to create style guides and standards. Your definition will give you a benchmark to measure whether your support team is delivering on your standard of customer service.
Integrate support into your customer experience strategy
No matter how nice the person in your contact center is, no matter how great your frontline staff is, their experience is inevitably shaped by what the rest of the company does, too.
The goal of a customer-focused service department should be to build in systems across teams that support great service so that delighting customers is more of an automatic outcome of doing business, rather than an occasional, heroic feat. Support managers can take the following steps to build systems into their teams:
- Push decision making to the front lines. Give them tools and information to make better decisions, and back them up on it.
- Automate customer-friendly processes. This ensures a more consistent customer experience and requires fewer decisions, which saves time for everyone involved.
- Create feedback loops and get actionable input from customer needs. Make sure you are providing a framework for your support team to share customer feedback with your data product teams, your infrastructure teams and others.
Respect your team
Your customer support team is experiencing and servicing the good, the bad and the ugly day in and day out. So, treat them with the respect they deserve. They are also the voice of your customer, so involve them in product and strategy meetings. Celebrate their successes and hold them accountable for their work.