There are many reasons why you should care to build a great customer service team.
One is, customer service is as important to a business as any other department, such as sales or marketing for example. It takes at least as much time and effort as other aspects of a business in order to move forward and succeed.
Another reason is, in a market of multiple similar products customer service is inevitably becoming the main business differentiator. To put it straight, these days your customer service team can win or lose your business.
If you want to have a team of champions who will propel your business, it’s good to start off with a decent plan. The four key steps below are your landmarks for creating a best performing customer service team.
1. Hire the Talent
It is quite simple, having a super successful and best performing customer support team starts with hiring the right people. You can’t afford to go wrong at this step, because a mistake at the hiring stage can hardly be fixed later.
Your goal is to identify a talent among the many customer service job applicants. How to spot a talent?
In my opinion, interaction with customers requires well developed soft skills. Soft skills, unlike technical skills, are more difficult to train, although they too can be improved.
Some people are great communicators by nature, so setting up an in-person interview is an important step to figure out whether an applicant has good communication skills or not. Focusing on the interview rather than the resume of potential employees will tell you who they really are and will help to hire the right people for customer service.
For more insights and tips on hiring I recommend you to check out The Essential Guide to Hiring Customer Support Excellence. It’s a great read by Kayako.
2. Provide Meticulous Training
Even if you hired someone with extensive experience in customer service, train them from scratch. Cover all the key aspects of agent training by explaining how your company works and how you process different customer support requests. This way you will make sure nothing important has been omitted and you are not relying on the person’s previous experience to do things the way you need them to be done in your company.
Detailed training will only enrich a pro, allowing them to blend their experience with your best practice and work out the best approach to serve your customers. Even more so, meticulous training is important if you hired someone who is just starting their career in customer service.
Without extensive training adapted towards the needs and goals of your company, employees will not be able to give their best performance.
3. Give Freedom / Empower
You have done your job once you hired the people who have a heart for customer service and given them detailed training. Now you need to let them sail freely. It feels scary for many companies to actually give freedom to their employees and empower them to act on their own. This fear is quite understandable, because there is always a chance the freedom will be abused. However, experience shows that success grows out of passionate unsupervised work.
If you are giving your employees freedom and they misuse it, they are just not a fit for the customer service job. Maybe they want to be a painter or don’t want to work at all. Use freedom as an indicator showing whether you have made a good hiring choice or not. The right people will be happy when they are empowered and will perform best with minimum supervision. They will use all their creativity to serve the customer well and even surpass the customer’s expectation.
Don’t be afraid to go through a period of instability while your team is being established and the wrong people leaving. Eventually only the right people will stay and they will be your best performers.
4. Treat Your Team Members as Partners
To sustain the right atmosphere within a customer service team, it is important to maintain a friendly relationship with every team member.
Monitoring the performance of your team is essential part of the work and it can be done creatively. It could be aimed at helping the individuals grow, spot the cases when they could have done things differently or in a better way, rather than bashing them for imperfections.
You need to learn to treat your team members as friends or business partners, even though they are an employee and work for or under you. This will allow your team to grow and come to a certain state of balance when you know that they really care for what they do and you can fully trust their discretion to deal with customers’ issues.
This is like icing on the cake. The team will feel even more free and empowered. They will feel more responsibility and will always try to do their best to please the customer. This will drive the best performance possible.
So what do you think it takes to have a best performing customer service team? I think, it takes a lot of effort. Really, a lot… It’s an art in itself.
Whether it’s worth to go all the way or not, use your own judgment. We all witness on daily basis that many companies are still providing poor customer service, agents being impolite, item delivery failing etc. etc. On the other side of the pendulum, there are giants like Amazon whose fame is probably due to the way they do customer service alone.
In some way, I think we don’t have much choice anyway. Sooner or later every business will be drawn to paying very close attention to getting their customer service to perform well. If this time has come for you now, remember the most important – hire the talent, train them well, empower and treat as partners.
Do you have anything more to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments.