If you keep your customers delighted, they’re more likely to do business with you in the future and spend more money on your business. Today, it’s vital to know who your customers are and meet their needs and expectations at every touchpoint. Here, the goal is to foster a lasting relationship with your customers rather than focusing on a single transaction.
A successful customer support team plays a crucial role in every company by improving customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention rates. If you have a thriving customer support department, you can even win back disgruntled customers by proactively helping them solve their issues.
A capable and effective customer support team can help your company deliver unique customer experiences and create valuable relationships that will last longer and continue to yield more profits. However, creating a customer support team from scratch requires a massive time and money investment. But if implemented well, the ROI will be high in terms of customer loyalty, satisfaction, and more revenues. Here are five steps to create a proficient customer support team and deliver better customer experiences.
1. Define “Great Customer Support” for Your Company
Nearly every business claims to deliver excellent customer service. But not all customers have a positive experience, so clearly, there’s room for improvement. That improvement starts with defining what “great customer support” means to your company.
To build a successful customer support team, decide on the specifics of customer service quality you’ll deliver and include your entire team in coming up with that definition. Then, after determining what “great support” is for your brand, you have a standard against which to evaluate your customer support team.
Suppose your company values speed or integrity, for instance. In that case, those values should guide your definition of excellent customer support, and you should set your support team up to deliver on those values. Further, to stand out from the crowded marketplace, consistently exceed your customers’ expectations. These questions can help you define what “Great customer support” means in your company:
- What are the average response times in your industry?
- What are the average response times for your biggest competitors?
- How can your company improve on those response times?
- What level of support are your potential customers used to, and how can you exceed their expectations?
When you think this way, you’ll establish your brand’s unique definition of outstanding customer support, which your competitors will then try to match.
2. Hire the Right People for Customer Service
Delivering high-quality and reliable customer support means finding and hiring the right people is critical. Some key questions you need to ask when hiring customer support team members include:
- What is the perfect customer support personality? Look for emotionally intelligent and empathetic candidates, and look for factors specific to your company culture.
- What skills should your support team members have? Do they need specific licenses, technical skills, or software knowledge? Make sure your job description, interview questions, and screening process list all necessary skill requirements and differentiate them from the “nice-to-have” skills.
- How will you integrate them with your existing employees? After you’ve hired customer support team members, plan out their first 2-3 weeks to teach them about your approach to customer service and company culture and the services and products they’ll support.
- How will you retain them? Engaged and intelligent team members want to continue developing and learning in their roles. Consider providing them a clear career path to follow and constant feedback, so they know they’re on the right track.
3. Measure the Right Data and Add Support Where Needed
Many customer support activities are simple to track. Your customer support software can produce detailed reports and analyzes. However, it can’t tell you which metrics matter to your customer support team and what you should do with them.
Fortunately, these three key questions can help you determine which metrics matter most to your circumstances:
- What are you trying to find? Start by deciding what you want to report and the questions you’re trying to answer. For instance, try to answer the following questions and then work back to the correct data:
- Do I have enough customer support staff?
- Where do most of the customer support requests come from?
- What skills are lacking in my customer support team?
- Who are you reporting to? The level of timing and detail of measurements should suit different executives to whom you’re reporting to. For example, your CEO may need more detailed reporting than your team leaders.
- What do you want to achieve? Report on the metrics that correlate with the change you wish to see. For instance, if you want to back your case to hire more customer support staff, focus on customer support ticket volume per representative trends and the correlation between customer satisfaction and timely responses.
The data and metrics you want to track should be authentic and meaningful—there’s no use in trying to paint a false picture because your customers will eventually reveal the truth. After you’ve identified the metrics to measure and monitor, take some baseline measurements and set internal milestones for your team to work towards.
4. Collaborate and Trust Each Other
Brian Hansen notes, “in customer success…diverse perspectives allow you to connect with customer contacts in a new way and see problems and opportunities through a new lens each time.”
Building strong relationships between customer support team members and fostering trust makes everything run smoothly. When team members collaborate with and trust each other, they plan more efficiently, work more effectively, and grow stronger as a team. Conversely, however, the lack of collaboration and trust can affect team morale, employee engagement, and even team performance.
As a team leader, encourage collaboration and build trust by teaching team members to trust each other and become autonomous together. For example, to improve collaboration and trust among your customer support staff:
- Encourage honesty and open communication. Employees want to feel heard, appreciated, and valued by their peers. When they feel like they can share their honest opinions and feedback without judgment, it results in better ideas and more robust outputs. Thus, establishing healthy workplace psychological safety and communication practices is vital because all this is crucial in fostering team collaboration and trust.
- Create opportunities for collaboration. For customer support team members to trust each other, they need to learn to solve problems together and rely on each other to solve problems. An excellent opportunity for your team to build these skills is handling tasks outside of their daily responsibilities. Facing new obstacles and becoming creative can help your team become more resourceful and see things from new perspectives. That’s because this will build curiosity and open-minded culture that will take them to the next level.
5. Pick the Right Customer Support Tools
Battling with unhelpful or slow customer support tools is a costly waste of your team’s energy and time that would be much more valuable spent helping customers. Unfortunately, however, customer support tools are often low on the priority list for businesses with limited budgets.
Your customer support team will use these tools daily for every customer interaction. Thus, even minor improvements in accessibility, speed, or comfort can make a significant difference. In addition, customer support software includes a help desk or individual productivity tools, such as screenshot managers or text expansion, and any internal tools your team uses.
The following questions can help you select the correct customer support tools:
- What functionality does your team need? How many people will use it? What sort of conversations will the software be handling? Which platforms should it support? What does your team need to report on?
- What are your necessary features versus “nice-to-have” features? It’s better to choose software that does the essentials well than one with additional features that your support team struggles to use.
- What apps or platforms do you need to integrate it with? For example, do you need to connect with your social media platforms or your CRM? Do you require API access for vital functions?
Even a slight improvement in performance, usability, and functionality can make a substantial difference when you multiply them by all the hours your customer support team will use these tools.
Cloud App can be a powerful visual communication tool in helping your customer support team deliver excellent customer experiences. That’s because it can help your team respond faster than ever to customer questions and concerns with high-quality content that offers detailed answers. Also, it can help you cut back-and-forth emails with lengthy explanations that leave room for miscommunications and confusion. Click this link to learn how Zight (formerly CloudApp) can help you close customer support tickets 3X faster.
Customer support isn’t a one-and-done project. It’s continuing work that must adapt over time as your customers, the market, and your customer support team change and as you learn.
You may need to use new customer support tools, hire the right people, or measure the correct data, but always remember to define excellent customer support for your company and build out from there.
Your execution will also need to adapt to the changing environment, but your principles of excellent customer support will hold true.