Having a great customer support team is easier said than done. Call centers experience high turnover rates, which sometimes reach 50% annually. Constantly finding, hiring, and training new customer support representatives is expensive and time-consuming and can leave your clients frustrated, which ultimately can hurt your business.
33% of customers say they would consider abandoning a brand after one poor customer service incident. Even worse, the average consumer tells 15 people once they’ve experienced poor customer service. That means delivering poor customer service experiences is just as harmful to your business’s growth and success as poor-quality products or services.
Fortunately, there are five proven ways you can improve your customer support staffing strategy and deliver better customer service experiences. Let’s look at how you hire the right staff, ultimately reducing the employee turnover rate.
People often confuse staffing strategies with recruitment strategies; however, they aren’t the same thing.
Recruitment is a single step in the employment journey, which entails seeking and encouraging potential candidates to apply for positions. On the other hand, staffing is a continuous process that involves the initial recruitment step. Still, it goes beyond that to include managing and maintaining competent and satisfied employees, fit for the job, in the right positions at the right time to meet your business goals.
Today, customer support staffing strategies go one step further. They entail filling positions and looking at your entire workforce to gain insights and offer incredible employee experiences to attract and keep the best employees and deliver better customer experiences.
Thus, staffing strategies are like ‘people strategies.’ Because they examine which areas you’re performing well, how you can improve, and consider how you can provide your staff with meaningful work.
Here are five steps to building a successful customer support staffing strategy:
1. Identify Existing Staffing Needs
As a business owner, you may have difficulty identifying your current customer support staffing needs. Being understaffed can slow your business from growing by making it difficult for your customer support employees to handle the current workload. On the other hand, having too many employees can increase your operational costs.
So, it’s critical to identify existing staffing needs to move your company in the right direction. To do that, you must develop a staffing plan. A staffing plan summarizes the positions and roles in your company, and the skills needed for each role. It should cover your current, and future staffing needs based on your business goals and budget.
To identify staffing needs, you should also draft a current skills inventory and talk to your existing customer support employees about other skills and abilities they may have. Also, you should check past performance reviews.
Next, examine your options. For example, does your organization need to hire more employees? Is it possible to improve current employees’ productivity, or can you help them develop the skills they have already? Do you need new employees on a project, contract, or in-house basis?
Further, evaluate your regular retirement and turnover rates. For instance, if you see that several key employees will retire over the next year, plan your budget and staffing needs accordingly.
2. Recruit People with the Right Skills
For most customers, working with your customer support team is the only way they can talk directly to your organization. Those interactions with your customer support team often turn a negative experience into a good one and vice versa. Your customer support team can also draw out critical customer insights, forming a bridge between the rest of your organization and your customers.
Thus, having people with the right skills in customer-facing positions and setting them up to succeed is crucial for the long-term success of your business. To hire people with the right skills in these customer-facing roles, define the skills and experiences the ideal candidate must have.
Next, think about the type of role you’re filling and what other roles qualified employees may be working in. This will help you create a list of skills to help you recruit the right people. To do that, you may need to answer the following questions:
- What skills do all customer support employees need?
- Which skills does the specific customer service role require?
- What experiences and skills are pleasant to have but not crucial?
In addition, ask your existing employees for their input because they know what skills the team could use the most help with.
3. Train and Focus on Employee Retention
Employee retention starts right from the application process to screening candidates to deciding who is more qualified. It begins with determining what skills you want to emphasize and then seeking those out in your applicants.
Employee retention is crucial because the longer an employee stays with your business, the more efficient they become. So, you must look at this as a long game and take measures to ensure you’re doing it right by ensuring every employee is fully engaged and part of your organization’s ongoing success.
To motivate employees to continue working in your company, you must also provide ongoing training and clear paths to advancement. Promoting from within provides a clear path to more compensation and responsibility, and it makes your employees feel they’re appreciated and a critical part of your business’s success. So employment development and training are a crucial part of employee retention.
4. Integrate New Hires With Existing Staff
Kristi Faltorusso notes, “set expectations with the teams who will be impacted [by staff changes] as early as possible… as soon as we know what direction we are headed and the changes they could expect, make it known and manage the narrative.”
Integrating new employees into an established team requires support from your existing staff. An effective way to get support is to announce to your current employees about your new hires.
Announcing your new employees to your current employees through an email or meeting allows you to communicate the new hire’s skills and experiences to show the value they will bring to your team. In addition, this introduction gives you the chance to set clear expectations about the new employee–including their job title, start date, and responsibilities.
Further, announcing the new employee to your existing team before they start working gives your current staff a chance to find shared interest and commonality with the new employee. In addition, this may make the existing employees more welcoming and accepting when the new hire starts work.
5. Know how to Motivate Your Customer Support Team
Like any other department, you need to know when and how to motivate your customer support team to keep them doing their best to keep your customers happy and boost revenue. Ways to keep your employees motivated include:
- Positive feedback when necessary.
- Involve them in setting business goals.
- Offer incentives.
- Create a relaxed but still productive work environment.
- Organize social events.
- Offer perks
- Provide career progression opportunities to foster employee retention.
Any company looking to improve the performance of its customer support team should focus on the above customer support staffing strategies. This is a fundamental area that can help you scale your business, but also it’s an area where most companies struggle. Successful customer support staffing strategies can impact your entire business and help you improve employee retention.
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