Why is customer service important?
Customer service is an important aspect of any growing business. It’s the part of your business that handles inquiries and complaints, provides solutions, and improves company engagement with your customers. Your customer service team is responsible for taking your business further, by helping you retain and nurture patronship. So, it’s important to put thought into how you build a strong customer service team.
What is customer service like today?
The customer service industry has come a long way from being confined to a room full of landline operators downtown. They can be stationed pretty much anywhere in the world with broadband access. Telephone calls are no longer the definitive means of providing customer service. Nowadays, companies can deploy a mix of different customer service tools and strategies across a wide array of platforms. Ways of reaching people have never been more efficient and multi-pronged.
Ying Chen for Hubspot points out that customer expectations have changed, too. With the widespread use of social media to reach out and resolve customer inquiries, customer service has become more personalized. It has also redefined accessibility, which customers now expect to have 24/7. As the 2020 pandemic makes our workspaces increasingly virtual, ‘round the clock customer service may become more of the norm.
As Arthur Novak, Senior Vice President of Asia Pacific Operations, TTEC also points out that it’s becoming more common to have integrated customer service systems operated by humans and artificial intelligence. Novak says that as customer service becomes more personalized, human touch becomes more difficult to remove. Despite the increasingly complex automation looming in the horizon, human insight remains critical. Ultimately, companies have to invest in integrating both channels into their customer service strategy to become optimal “contact center environments”.
At the end of the day, the type of customer service team you build must match your company’s needs. As you choose the team of people you want to work with or what tools you want to have in your support system, keep in mind that customer service is primarily largely an investment in relationships. Build around that need and you’ll be able to build a strong and reliable customer service team.
Building A Customer Service Team in 3 Key Steps
One: Identify what you need a customer service team for.
Take a stock of the information you think your customers are going to need or ask for. The purpose of having a customer service team is to engage and nurture your relationship with your customers. According to Helpscout, people navigate information on the Internet to improve their decision making. Providing your customers relevant and helpful information that enables them to make the right decisions. Additionally, it can do a lot for your business credibility. Companies need to integrate this customer-centered approach into their entire business model.
So, the first step in building that team is to identify the type of information that your customers are going to look for.
- Is it the type of information that you can disseminate through a FAQ page or a resources channel?
- If it’s the type that requires more complex decision making, would it be better automated or handled by a person? What other options do you have?
When you know the nature of your knowledge database, it’s easier to build the customer service team you need.
- Which information can be automated or placed in the company FAQ section?
- Which ones will need a more human touch?
In summary, anticipate how customers are going to use your product, what questions they will have, and what challenges they might face. From there, you can build your business around improving customer experience.
Two: Find the right people for your customer service team.
Now that you know what you need, it’s time to build your team. You can choose to create your customer service team from scratch. Look for people who have high emotional intelligence, good critical thinking skills, and the relentless drive for problem-solving. Choose people who are systematic but flexible, and know how to communicate well.
There are companies, like Staff Street, Flatworldsolutions, and SupporNinja, that specialize in matching professionals with a company’s specific needs. The advantage of working with these companies is that remote solutions are embedded into their business models.
- They build customer service teams for the 24-hour business cycle.
- They know what it’s like to create teams of people who can communicate solutions in effective and efficient ways.
If you’re building a team remotely, make it a point to get to know your people better. As you create your customer service team, prioritize communication not as a tool but as principle. It’s not something you can download as a productivity app.
At Staff Street, for example, we have scheduled meetings. We use applications to make our collaborations more seamless and in-synch. More importantly, we make it a point to check in on one another and make sure we are on the right track professionally and personally.
Three: Create a seamless workflow
Once you have the right people, give them relevant training. Obviously, orientation and training will keep them up to speed, not just with the operational guidelines, but also the security standards of the company. It’s highly important to help them strike a balance between data security compliance and finding solutions for your customers. Subsequently, you can game scenarios and simulate customer service interactions. As a result, they will become more prepared to deal with related issues and inquiries.
More importantly, provide them with a system that works and tools that will help them do their job well. Give them the relevant tools, and informed access to your database. Rationalize the access you’re going to give them, especially when it involves organizational and customer data.
Finally, organize a schedule. If you’re working with a customer service team with 24-hour access, make sure that work transfers seamlessly between agents. According to Arthur Novak, more progressive companies have expanded the standard time for rest and discussion. This gives agents more time to consult and collaborate with their team leaders and managers.
Hiring good talent and giving them proper training are critical steps. But it’s even more important to ensure that the work systems operate to sustain, complement and enhance your customer service team’s capabilities. Make it a point to place communication at the center of your organizational design.
Reminder: Keep your team transparent and agile.
When you read popular threads on Quora and Reddit, many of the stories about customer service experience are downright nefarious. Most of them indicate that the problems don’t necessarily lie with the agents themselves, but with the company.
When issues are left unaddressed and they escalate, it can be a sign that companies are unable to optimize their knowledge base. On the other hand, many companies get it right because they treat their customers like actual people. That begins from the top of the business, not from the backend customer support.
Either way, if you’re planning to set up your customer service team, understand the kind of information you have and the type of information your team needs to know. More importantly hire good, communicative individuals who can work together as a team.
Invest in your team, invest in your customers.