It’s no secret that high-quality customer service is incredibly important for businesses of all sizes. With great customer service, you can improve customer loyalty, attract new customers through social proof, and increase the amount of money a customer spends at your business. However, it’s also true that your business is only as good as your employees. Talented, happy, skilled, and appreciated customer service agents are paramount when it comes to increasing the quality of your customer service. This is why we’ve put together a guide for building a top-notch customer service team!
Why Having an Excellent Customer Service Team is Essential
Most business owners understand that keeping customers happy is a key part of being a successful business and that a good customer service strategy should focus on keeping customers happy. However not all business owners understand exactly how a customer service team can improve their business beyond “they deal with unhappy customers”. In reality, there’s a lot more to it.
It Increases Customer Retention
If someone is calling your customer service team, then they are most likely already a customer of yours. Maybe they have bought your product and are confused about how to get it working. Maybe the product isn’t working as expected, or maybe they’re still waiting on the product. It could be any manner of reasons, but it’s important to remember that they are already your customer. This means you’ve already convinced them to buy once!
Converting a potential customer to a customer is no easy task. Even the world’s largest companies struggle to do this and most shopping carts are left abandoned, never to reach the checkout. If you can provide these customers with a good customer service experience, they’ll be more likely to buy your product again, which is more profit for your company. Not only that, but the more times a customer buys your product, the more likely they are to buy again, and the more likely they are to spend more money with successive purchases. Providing a bad customer service experience to a first-time customer will turn them into a one-time-only customer, potentially costing your business thousands of dollars in profit in the future. In fact, one study found that a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in profit. Your customer service team is a key part of your customer retention strategy, so your team should be as strong as possible.
It Increases Customer Loyalty
Loyal customers are customers who are devoted to your brand and will continue to buy your products over your competitors. This is true even when cheaper, or even better quality products are available elsewhere. These customers have connected with your business and your message. These customers may keep coming back to you because you offer something extra that’s important to them. They might enjoy how smooth the end to end process of buying your product or service is. They might support your approach to social issues such as sustainability and charity, or they might approve of how easy it is to resolve issues with your company through your customer service team. Whatever the reason may be, you must foster this loyalty in your customers. Good customer service makes happy customers and happy customers make loyal customers.
Unhappy Customers Are Louder than Happy Ones
If the benefits of having happy customers don’t motivate you, then the consequences of having unhappy customers should. A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their bad experience, and around 13% of these customers will tell more than 20 people. Providing poor customer service by having a low-quality customer service team can potentially ruin your business’ reputation and discourage new customers from buying from your company.
How to Pick the Right People for Your Customer Service Team
We live in a world where customers are willing to pay more for a better customer service experience. In fact, 42% of customers said they would pay more for a friendly and welcoming customer service experience, and 52% said they would pay more for a fast and efficient customer service experience. How good a customer service experience is will depend on how good your customer service agents are.
There are many approaches you can take to picking the right people for your customer service team, but there are a few key factors you should consider. Let’s take a look.
Friendly and Positive Attitude
Openness, positivity, and friendliness are all qualities we look for in our daily interactions so it should be no different when talking to customer service agents. Adding to this, there’s been a distinct shift in the last decade towards a more personable and transparent type of communication. Most businesses used to present a corporate persona that was heavy on facts and light on a personal touch. We are no longer living in that time. Today, even the world’s mammoth sized organizations like to get personal with their customers and have some lighthearted fun. Customers come back to businesses that make them feel good, and it turns out that corporate-speak doesn’t make people feel very warm and fuzzy, who knew?
When hiring your customer service agents, you should look for a positive attitude. If a customer is calling customer service, then chances are they have something to complain about. A positive and friendly approach towards unhappy customers can help put customers at ease and reduce some of that stress. Not only is it better for customers, but it’s better for the agent too. An agent with a positive outlook will be better equipped to help customers, so they are more likely to feel increased job satisfaction when things go right.
Problem Solving, Creativity, and Communication Skills
Customer service agents are dealing with customers in real-time and this means they need to be quick when it comes to meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectations. Customers are talking to customer service because they have a problem, so having agents with strong problem-solving skills is essential.
Problem-solving and critical thinking is all about finding the logical links between the facts and coming up with creative ways to solve problems. For example, let’s say a customer rings your customer service team to complain that they haven’t received a confirmation email for their purchase. The customer is experiencing some level of anxiety about not having this confirmation since it acts as proof of their purchase, something which they want to ensure. An agent can offer to send another confirmation through to the customer, and this may solve the problem, or it may not. This approach doesn’t get to the root of what’s causing the problem.
In this situation, an agent should stay on the phone to see if the customer has received the second confirmation email. If the customer doesn’t receive the second one, then it would be pointless to keep sending another one to them – it simply doesn’t solve the problem. This is where an agent with strong problem-solving skills will ask “what are the possible reasons the customer isn’t getting this email?”. It may be that it’s going to the customer’s spam folder. It may be a technical problem on your end or any number of other reasons. If the agent can’t get the email to successfully deliver, they could confirm the purchase differently, by looking at the customer’s account details and sending them a copy of proof of purchase.
Communication skills are also extremely important. Having good communication skills isn’t just about speaking clearly and concisely, but also being a good listener. If a customer has a problem, they want to feel listened to. They want to feel that their problem is as important to you as it is to them, and an agent with good communication skills will make a customer feel this way.
It’s no secret that there’s a high turnover rate among customer service agents. The average turnover rate across all industries in the US is 15%, but the turnover rate for call centers is around 45%. This is huge, but why? This is a complex problem, but some of the key reasons are as follows:
- A lack of recognition for a job well done.
- Poor pay and compensation.
- Lack of training: poorly trained customer service agents are less likely to meet the customer’s needs and will, therefore, fall short of targets, and have lower levels of job satisfaction.
- No opportunities for advancement: if an employee can’t have something to work towards (and something that is realistically within reach), then they are more likely to pursue an entirely different job and career path.
Companies are often far too quick to pin poor performance on the employee rather than asking “are we equipping our employees with the tools, skills, and recognition they need to perform their job well?”. This is particularly a problem in customer service roles where there’s a larger emphasis on reporting and gathering metrics. Managers can get lost in the numbers and fail to see the people.
The turnover rate will reduce as employee loyalty increases. So how do you make your employees loyal? You make them feel appreciated by building in reward structures for good work, you compensate them fairly, and you give them opportunities to bring new things to the table. Customer service agents don’t want to feel like a robot only there to read off a script, they want to contribute to the company and feel a part of it, so let them.
There’s also a cycle here. If your company is known for good customer service, then more agents will want to work for your company, and they will feel like they are contributing something valuable. If your company becomes known for bad customer service, then you’ll attract employees who see your company as a lesser option and maybe even a last resort. These employees won’t put 100% effort into improving your business because they don’t plan to stay.
How to Make the Most of Your Customer Service Agents
You need to help your agents be the best agents they can be by offering them the tools they need:
- An Omnichannel platform: an omnichannel platform is now the preferred approach to customer service. With an omnichannel platform, your customers can communicate with you according to their communication preferences and get a cohesive and straightforward experience. The same is true for customer service agents. Systems of the past would be siloed and didn’t speak to each other, leading to errors in customer accounts and a lack of clarity. Without a complete picture of the employee, the agent will not be able to perform their job as effectively. An omnichannel platform is also preferred because it only involves one set of training for your agent to be proficient in your platform. No longer will they have to learn multiple different platforms just to perform their job.
- Advanced technological tools: there are now so many tools available to help agents make sense of customer data and use this data to inform their decisions. With the advent of AI and Machine learning, the business world now has some incredibly powerful tools that can be used to offer a better experience to customers and help agents perform their job.
- Freedom to make decisions: your agents should feel like a valued and autonomous member of your team who can make their own decisions. Good problem solving often requires thinking outside the box and making decisions without handholding from their manager. You should trust your agents enough to give them the freedom to make the best decisions, and you’ll see the rewards of this approach both in customer satisfaction and in agent job satisfaction.