A customer service strategy is a detailed plan aimed at delighting your customers – just like a map that guides you down the road that leads to keeping your customers happy.
A thorough strategy helps you to provide consistently great service whenever a customer interacts with your business. When you’ve documented your company’s strategy, it makes decision-making a lot easier. For each big question, you can simply turn to your service philosophy and say “Does this fit with our goals?”
Offering your customers solid customer service is critical to your company’s long-term success. “Customer service is the new marketing,” says Derek Sivers, Founder of CD Baby. A major reason to invest in customer support – just like you would in marketing – is that delighting customers pays off. Increasing customer retention by just 5%, can lead to an increase in revenue of as much as 95%.
You can make sure your strategy leads to great customer support by covering the right elements.
6 Key Elements to Include in Your Customer Service Strategy
A customer care strategy is most effective when it contains several critical components. Here’s a look at what your customer service strategy should include.
- A Company-Wide Mission
- A Recruitment Process to Hire The Right People
- A Commitment to Ongoing Training
- A Customer Service Policy
- A Focus on Empowering Your Team
- An Effective Feedback Loop
1. A Company-Wide Mission
You can’t develop a strategy that delivers good customer support if your company’s mission doesn’t focus on customer happiness. A winning customer service strategy is the result of a customer-centric approach across the entire organization.
While that probably makes a lot of sense for the customer reps in your call center, it can sound a little more ambiguous for other teams or departments. For example, what does “delivering great customer service” mean to an engineer or a designer? Since an engineer is probably not in direct contact with clients, the customer’s needs and issues can potentially fall much farther away from their day-to-day work.
In practice, you can improve this by having all teams work regularly in the support queue. Not only will they have to learn empathy for the role of customer support rep, but also they’ll see first hand what the common issues and complaints from customers are.
When your company’s mission puts the satisfaction of your customer front and center, it’s easier for each team to deliver solutions with the customer in mind.
2. A Recruitment Process to Hire The Right People
People are a big part of your customer service strategy. In most cases, or at least when things get a little complicated, your customers will be interacting with a human. They’ll have questions, complaints, or requests and they’ll want to feel heard and understood – and ultimately, they’ll want a solution.
However, not every candidate out there is able to deliver the highest customer service standards. Make sure your support agents have the skills they’ll need to be successful at their job before you hire them.
Understand what your customers need to be successful, and distill that into a recruitment process that works for your company’s needs. Some common soft skills that are essential to support agents are:
- Positive Attitude: Ideally, you want people that are optimistic and friendly even when dealing with challenging tasks or difficult customers.
- Empathy and social skills: Being able to recognize and understand the emotions another person is feeling as well as caring about others.
- Taking Responsibility: Good support agents feel accountable to their customers. Not just that, they’re proactive and take pride in finding solutions to problems, no matter what it is or who’s to blame.
- Listening Skills: Only if you truly listen to your customers will you know exactly what they need and how you can solve their problem.
3. A Commitment to Ongoing Training
Your customer support team won’t give good customer service unless they have the right tools and the ability to use them. This includes having an onboarding process in place to ensure all new hires finish their first days feeling confident.
Training should be part of your strategy because it means the customers get better service, but it also provides agents with a career path and professional development. Encourage your team to go to conferences, read articles on customer support, or take online courses to brush up their technical skills. Show your employees that you care by having a training budget in place and allowing them to learn something during work hours.
4. A Customer Service Policy
Having a customer support policy as part of your strategy is an important step to providing consistently great customer support. It means taking the time to compile everything that relates to supporting your customer so your team has a place to reference policies and workflows.
Documenting your customer support workflows will provide consistency across the board while also helping your employees to make the decision they consider best within the given framework.
Your customer service policy doesn’t need to be overly complicated or hundreds of pages long. Even a simple one will help you and your employees do better work.
5. A Focus on Empowering Your Team
When you trust your team’s ability to do their job, you’re essentially giving them the power (and freedom) to find the solution your customer needs. Empowering teams as part of your strategy means documenting a framework that gives employees the amount of authority they need to solve an issue.
For example, does every rep have enough autonomy to choose when they can offer someone a discount after a bad experience without having to ask for permission from a higher-up?
Don’t forget the importance of keeping your employees happy. According to Gallup in “The State of the American Workplace,” employees who are engaged are more likely to improve customer relationships, with a resulting 20% increase in sales. Satisfied employees make for a satisfied customer and overall, a favorable relationship. Make sure you treat your employees with the same care and attention you would treat your customers with!
6. An Effective Feedback Loop
A customer service strategy that works sources a lot of its ideas from feedback: both from your customers and your employees. A steady feedback loop will help you improve over time.
Feedback to improve your customer service strategy will typically come from two sources:
- Feedback from your customers to your support agents
- Data from your support reps who are in charge of implementing the customer service strategy on a daily basis
You can listen to your customers to find out if they are satisfied using surveys or polls or even listening for customer feedback on social media. Measuring customer satisfaction should be an important part of your customer service strategy. Speaking to your customer service team about the problems customers have when interacting with your product is another great way to improve it. All of this feedback can help you identify gaps in your current strategy.
For example, you might find out through a conversation with your support team that customers also need support during the weekend. By further analyzing incoming traffic each day, you can use these insights to amend and improve your strategy, like hiring more people to extend your support beyond weekdays.
A Means for Customer Service Success
While no two businesses are exactly alike, their customer service strategies have something in common: They work to empower their employees. They have a customer-first approach. And, they ensure they adapt the framework regularly.
There’s no point in spending time developing a customer service strategy if you’re going to save it in a folder and never look at it again. The best strategies are living documents – customer satisfaction is a moving target, after all. Make sure you update yours as you collect new insights.