The rise of empowered consumers, who now have more options, richer resources, and heightened expectations, is putting increased pressure on businesses to deliver high quality service. Building a customer service department and acquiring talent are therefore necessary actions for all businesses.
Why your business should invest in a customer service department
From a business standpoint, lacking a dedicated customer service team puts companies at risk of losing customers, sales and revenue, and degrading their reputation in the marketplace. Companies that run a customer service department sometimes fail to realise that customer service is more than just answering telephones or having a friendly attitude. An effective customer service strategy is crucial to a business because:
- You’ll gain trust from your customers
- Customers value service more than price
- Satisfied customers are the promoters of your business
- It boosts customer engagement levels
- It helps you build a loyal customer base
- It ultimately improves your bottom line
It’s important to make a point about what’s known as business process outsourcing. BPO is the term commonly associated with the outsourcing of a particular department within your company to an organisation which deals exclusively with that discipline – a traditional example would be outsourcing your payroll or human resources requirements. If, when reading this article, you don’t feel that your company has the time or resources to facilitate the important step of optimising your customer service experience there are specialists one can outsource to.
A customer service department is only as good as the people behind it and, with the right team on board, your company will prosper. Here are five steps to tick off when assembling a rockstar customer service team which will add enormous value to the equation.
Define what customer service means to you
Building a customer support team requires that you define the quality of service you will deliver. Be sure to involve your entire team when drafting that definition so that everyone understands the standard that is expected of them. You could start with a few basic rules, such as be polite, listen to the customer and be willing to go the extra mile. Once you have established the customer service rules you will live and work by, you will have a benchmark for measuring your support team in terms of quality and performance.
Attract the right talent
How an organisation goes about identifying, attracting and reaching out to top talent is ultimately going to decide the fate of their customer service objectives. When it comes to assembling your customer service team, not just any talent will suffice. It’s often said that the ability to communicate effectively is the main competence of a customer support agent. While it’s a good start, the customer support representative should bring more than that to the table. Only when you attract a melting pot of skills – empathy, patience, adaptability, attentiveness – will your business lead the way in customer support.
Stimulate engagement with your employees
Excellent customer support not only stems from simply developing a particular set of skills – but also from creating a winning company culture. As Frances Frei and Anne Morriss at Harvard Business Review describe it: “Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off.” If your customer service team is well-versed in what goes on around them, understanding your business processes and the technologies they use day-to-day, they will be able to exceed customer expectations. The work culture should also allow and encourage your team to voice their opinion on how to improve operations. These are the members of your staff who connect with your customers the most, so they will have a better idea of what customers want and need.
Streamline customer service operations
A contact centre is a complex environment that demands responsibility and quick decision making. To improve productivity levels, you may want to restrict protocol and give your team the freedom to deal with queries and complaints on their own. This is especially important when a team member is pressed for time and cannot wait for approval on something (remember that customers don’t like being placed on hold). By empowering your team with the ability to take the initiative and streamline processes to the benefit of the customer, you’ll give your team the confidence to perform beyond their potential.
Strengthen their customer service skills
Continuing professional development is important because it delivers benefits to both employees and the company, helping to keep your business running efficiently. Once you have put together your talent pool, there may be a need for further training investment. Considering that new customer service technology is introduced all the time, you’ll need to update your team’s skills if you’re intending to integrate these new solutions and tools into your existing customer service department.
Times are changing rapidly for contact centres. Consumers aren’t what they used to be; they now have the ability to get what they want, when they want it, where they want it. As such, assembling an effective customer support team has never been more important.
But how do you go about attracting talent that can help influence your business direction and ability to perform? If you opt for the business process outsourcing model, you’ll have the support of knowledgeable professionals who understand customer needs and your business goals. The outsourcing partner will also help hire the best quality candidates and devise winning strategies to develop a talent pool.
Rohan K. Magerman