Customer service expectations are at an all time high, and meeting those expectations is all down to your support team. Customers expect more from brands when it comes to convenience, resolution times, and agent expertise. 96% of customers said that customer service played a role in their choice of and loyalty to a brand.
In order to deliver that level of customer service, support teams need to be empowered to truly serve customers to the best of their ability. Instead of getting bogged down in repetitive tasks and scripts, support teams need a strategy to go above and beyond in delighting the customer.
It’s not enough to hire amazing people – support teams need leadership and direction to empower them to deliver the best customer service possible.
What is customer service empowerment?
Empowering your customer support agents means giving them the freedom to make decisions based on their common sense, rather than requiring managerial approval for every decision. Your agents are authorized to go the extra mile to delight the customer instead of being required to follow overly strict rules and processes that stifle creativity.
Businesses who adopt employee empowerment strategies can offer enhanced customer service and create experiences that customers find truly memorable. This increases customer satisfaction and boosts retention rates.
Not only that, but employee satisfaction will rise along with employee retention rates. Agents will have more satisfaction in their jobs and deliver better customer service – the process comes full circle.
Examples of empowered support teams
Disney is a brand memorable for its customer service. Visitors to their parks are treated to a wonderful experience from the minute they enter the doors, and the park has a 70% return rate for first-time visitors.
Disney employees are empowered to delight customers and create the best possible experience for them in the park. For example, if a child queues up for a ride only to find out they don’t meet the minimum height required to ride, staff are empowered to hand out a special pass so the child can skip to the front of the queue on the next ride.
Another memorable brand is Ritz-Carlton. They are famous for their policy of giving each employee a budget of $2,000 to make any single guest happy, which sounds like a lot – because it is.
One waiter overheard a man talking to his wife, who was in a wheelchair, about what a shame it was he couldn’t take her down to the beach. The waiter told maintenance, and the next afternoon there was a wooden walkway leading down to the beach, along with a tent set up for the couple to have dinner in.
These customer service examples are worth sharing because they demonstrate empowered teams working for the benefit of the customer. These brands have created a customer service culture where employees can go above and beyond to create delight and a memorable experience.
Now we’ve looked at some fantastic customer service examples, let’s look at the ways you can empower your team to do the same.
1. Commit to your customer service team
If you want your brand to be distinguished for customer service then it starts with having a great service culture internally. You need to explicitly give your reps the power to go out of their way to delight customers.
You also need to deliver the right training to your support team without going overboard. Agents should know how to properly handle customer issues without the need to read off a script. Don’t be tempted to create huge rule books telling agents what they can and can’t do. Instead, narrow it down to a few principles that relate to one goal: happy customers who tell all their friends about their great service experience.
Let your agents know what is possible and then send them out there to live your values. Noteworthy customer support experiences tend to start with an agent who pushed the limits of what normal service usually looks like. Support your agents to go above and beyond the norm, and reward the ones who do.
2. Make crucial information accessible
No matter how knowledgeable your agents are, one individual can’t know or remember everything. The knowledge usually exists somewhere in your company, and the challenge is making it accessible to your support teams as and when they need it.
Set up an internal knowledge base to empower your customer support agents. Fill it with all the information they need to do their jobs properly, and allow employees to contribute to your knowledge base so it’s always growing and up-to-date. Giving agents time away from the queue to work on knowledge projects is another way to reduce repetition in their daily work.
If they have access to an internal knowledge base, employees will spend less time searching for information and respond to customers more quickly. They can spend more effort on delighting customers because they have the resources they need to do their job.
3. Let employees know it’s okay to fail
Empowerment in the workplace is about taking risks and not being afraid to fail. Helping customers and creating memorable experiences isn’t about playing it safe and going by the book – it’s stretching the boundaries of what the customer thought was possible to deliver a truly unique and memorable support interaction.
This is especially true if your customer support team is working on new projects or initiatives. Not every new idea will produce the results you want, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
If you’re going to give your agents more responsibility and accountability for themselves, this means that sometimes their decisions will end in failure. If your employees aren’t making mistakes, then maybe you aren’t giving them enough freedom to experiment.
4. Link agents to your company’s experts
No matter how much effort you put into documenting your company’s knowledge, some of it will always live in the minds of the experts you employ, who are likely to be spread across different departments.
Your empowered support agents need a way to access this knowledge quickly – that’s why you need a team collaboration platform to connect all your employees together. You need a platform that integrates with your help desk, enables employees to “follow” issues, cases or experts, has threaded conversations and alerts, and profiles that display everyone’s area of expertise.
With a team collaboration platform, even agents who don’t know the answer to a customer issue will be quickly connected to an expert who does.
5. Invest in a self-service knowledge base
So much of the repetitive customer service workload comes from customers who could have easily helped themselves if a self-service knowledge base were available. Invest in a self-service support knowledge base to deflect the more common queries, and free up your agents’ time to work on more complex requests.
Many of the content ideas for your knowledge base can come from your customer support inbox. Find out which questions come up the most and then document the answers for your customers to self-serve.
Without a self-service knowledge base, your support agents will be tied to their desks answering repetitive queries, and they won’t have time to delight your customers.
6. Listen to their feedback
Your support team is communicating with customers on a daily basis and this experience gives them an insight into how to serve customers in entirely new ways. They may be gathering all this knowledge but no one ever asks them for their feedback, and so this insight is going to waste.
Listen to the feedback from your support team and use this to improve the service you are offering your customers. For example, customers may be repeatedly having issues with your billing page. This is a sign that the billing page could be improved and feedback well worth passing on to your design team.
If you listen to your agents this will empower them to actively take a role in shaping the customer experience, instead of staying stuck in the mode of reactively responding to customer queries.
The magic really happens when agents are empowered and free to focus on helping the customer instead of worrying about company policy. We’ve gone through six ways that you can empower your support team to provide stellar customer service. This will create more memorable customer experiences and encourage your customers to stay longer with your brand. Customer loyalty is increased and you see a difference in profits due to higher customer retention. It’s well worth investing in empowering your support team.
Want more ideas on how to delight your customers? Check out our previous blog post for four actionable ways to provide a delightful customer experience.