Scaling a customer service department from your first hire to a global 24/7 team is no easy feat.
Your customer service team is the public face of your company, so it’s important to get it right. But deciding where to focus your time and attention can feel overwhelming. A staggering 96% of customers say that the quality of customer service is a leading factor in who they choose to do business with.
There are three components to the perfectly efficient customer service dream team:
- The right people
- The right process
- The right technology
If one of these aspects is lagging, your customers will notice. Below, we give you the playbook to build your team from zero to hero.
The people you hire are the building blocks that will form the foundation of everything else you put in place. With empathetic problem solvers, you can be confident that customers will get a good experience. Smart hires will make the team better by providing new perspectives and skills.
When hiring for your dream team:
- Prioritize attitude over experience as much as possible. You can teach someone how to troubleshoot server issues, but teaching empathy and work ethic is much more difficult.
- Look for foundational skills like great communication and problem-solving. These abilities translate into a wide range of practical uses such as working with other teams, writing knowledge base articles, and improving processes.
- Write a clear job description including what the day-to-day responsibilities include and detailed information about the company. Then, spend time deciding where to advertise. Job postings have a big impact on the type of applicants you get.
Without direction, the raw talent that you hired for your dream team won’t live up to their full potential. That’s why it’s critical to onboard new employees, and continue to offer ongoing training throughout their career at your company.
When training your customer service dream team:
- Consider putting a quality assurance program in place that provides ongoing feedback to agents on a regular basis. When you create a scorecard of the important aspects each conversation needs to include, your agents know what’s expected of them.
- Set up a Trello board or other project management system, to standardize your onboarding process. By organizing training materials into self-guided modules, you’ll get each agent up and running much faster.
- Run training sessions weekly or bi-weekly focusing on new features or topics pulled from CSAT surveys. Ongoing training will ensure your quality stays high and your team keeps on top of new information.
As your team grows, there will be more opportunities for each agent to specialize and grow their own skills. This doesn’t necessarily mean employees need to “climb the ladder”—team members should be encouraged to work with their managers to define the path they want to take within the company. This could mean management, increased technical responsibilities, project management roles, or training positions. With ample opportunities to grow and progress, your dream team will never look for other opportunities elsewhere.
As you build out new career paths for your team:
- Create a roadmap that shows opportunities for growth, along with the requirements.
- Dedicate time in 1-on-1s to talk about your team member’s future plans and what they’d like to explore in their career. Keep notes and refer back to them as the team member progresses towards their goals.
- Make sure to include both specialized roles and people management roles on your growth chart.
Without metrics and key performance indicators, it will be impossible to know if your team is working as expected. As your team starts to grow, metrics, and measurements are like the dashboard in your car. They will signal that everything is working as expected, or if it’s time to take a look under the hood to see what’s wrong.
When you’re starting to measure your progress, consider:
- Implementing a satisfaction or happiness measurement that is directly reported by customers. Measuring customer satisfaction helps you understand how your customers feel about the service they receive. It can also provide real-time feedback: if a customer rates your service poorly, you can act quickly to repair the situation.
- Monitoring an efficiency metric that tells you if you’re able to handle the incoming customer inquiries quickly enough. This might be something like First Reply Time (measuring how quickly you reply to customers who write-in) or Total Resolution Time (measuring how long it takes to go from contact to solved).
- Tracking a metric that ties directly to the goals of the business. This can help you justify the cost of supporting your customers, and show how valuable your team is. If your team improves customer retention, or increases customer advocacy, the business will be more willing to invest in customer service in the future.
When your team is small, you’ll likely be supporting customers only over email or perhaps phone. But as your customer base grows, it might be worth expanding your contact channels to offer more options such as live chat, community help, or social customer service.
When determining which channels you’ll help customers over,
- Focus on providing excellent customer service over a few channels rather than poor service over every channel. If you’re not meeting your goals on one channel, it’s likely not a good idea to stretch yourself further.
- Support your customers where they already are. For example, if your customers are very socially savvy, it’s probably a good idea to be actively listening on Twitter and Facebook.
- Consider how urgently your customers need help. If you offer a business-critical service, it makes sense to offer real-time support like phone or chat. If you offer a freemium product, perhaps a quick response over email is sufficient.
As you scale your customer service team, it will become more critical to offer customers a chance to help themselves. Creating and maintaining a knowledge base that includes answers to the most common questions not only provides a better customer experience, but it also reduces the ticket load on your team. That means you can spend more time supporting customers with complex needs, and the customers that have quick questions can get answers instantly.
When you create your knowledge base or help center:
- Put one person in charge of maintaining the quality of the knowledge base. While all agents may contribute to it, having one person accountable will ensure that things get done.
- Create a style and tone document that dictates how articles are written. This will make sure everything stays consistent and on-brand.
- Include multimedia like videos and pictures for customers that are more visual learners.
Laying tools on top of a great team can equip them to do their best work. They make agents faster, help keep track of scheduling and performance management, and make sure nothing drops through the cracks.
Here is a list of tools you might want to consider investing in:
- Help desk software
- Survey tools
- Knowledge management systems
- Productivity tools
- Quality assurance tools
- Workforce management systems
If you’re looking for more help building your customer service technology stack, make sure to check out this webinar with TextExpander’s Jeff Gamet and HelpScout’s Mat Patterson.
Once you’ve got your process dialed in, your metrics on point and your team equipped for battle, automation can make everything easier. Not only do customers get answers more quickly, but automation helps customer support agents deliver better customer support. Smart automation can help gather information to shorten overall resolution time. But poorly implemented automation just accelerates bad processes. It’s important to make sure you get automation right so that customers still feel like they are being taken care of – not just forced to deal with a robot.
If you’re considering automation, take the following best practices into account:
- Provide an “escape hatch” so that customers can still talk to a human if needed. No one wants to be stuck a loop with a chatbot that doesn’t understand what the customer wants.
- Focus on perfecting your customer service responses before adding them to automated workflows. You want to make sure you’re giving the perfectly worded answer before you start sending it out en masse.
- Keep a close eye on customer satisfaction and any negative feedback you receive about your automation. Your customers might be more sensitive to automated replies. In that case, keep automation behind the scenes to help agents do their job better.
What’s your dream team’s secret sauce?
Building your customer service dream team requires careful planning to get right. But it’s worth it. When you have a great team in place, supported by the right tools, you’ll be able to provide every customer with an experience that brings them back time and time again.
We want to celebrate your customer service dream team! What makes your customer service department amazing? Leave us a comment below 🙂
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