Customer Service Team

Fighting Back: Building a Customer Service Team that Exceeds Expectations

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Service teams that aren’t properly trained are giving customer service a bad name.

As sad as it is to say, people don’t always expect much from customer service.

The 2015 SDL Global CX Wakeup Call Report demonstrated this—according to the data, 45 percent of customers couldn’t remember having a successful customer experience. Service failures were present across the board:

  • 35 percent experienced poor response times
  • 30 percent could tell their agent was poorly trained
  • 29 percent received inaccurate information from agents

The results of the 2015 Aspect Customer Experience Survey had similar news to report. One-third of respondents said they’d “rather clean a toilet” than speak with customer service. Clearly, the health of the customer service industry has been in sorry shape for a while.

Turning the Tide

Despite the poor history of customer service, there IS good news: businesses are starting to recognize the importance of the customer experience. Dedicated customer service contact centres are quickly becoming a competitive differentiator for businesses that recognize its value.

What does this mean for contact centres? Well, there are two key takeaways from this trend:

  • Businesses will be relying on you more than ever before
  • You must go above and beyond to provide exceptional service to your frustrated market

With these goals in mind, let’s review a few aspects of one of the most important parts of providing quality service: your customer service team!

1. Hiring the A-Team

The employees you hire will form the foundation of your customer service team. Training and tools come later; contact centres must first make sure they hire individuals who will thrive in a customer service environment. After all, you’re not looking for employees who want to check out as soon as they check in. The best agents will be people who feel a sense of personal pride and satisfaction from helping others.

Your new agents are the rough clay that you’ll have to shape with training. Make sure they give you something to work with.

2. Creating a Culture

And while you’re in hiring mode, vet candidates based on not only their personal skills, but how well you feel they’ll fit into the culture of your organization. This is best done by identifying several key cultural traits that are unique to your contact centre, and hiring around those values. Co-operation is an underrated aspect of customer service. Your agents will never be able to deliver a quality customer experience without working together to meet service goals.

3. Define Service Goals

And speaking of service goals…make sure your contact centre’s goals are clear and defined before the hiring process begins.

Think of concrete goals as a road map to guide your customer service training. Base your strategies around what your centre considers to be exceptional service, along with what has worked for you in the past. This guide helps make sure that expectations are concrete and understood for both veterans and new hires alike.

4. Proper Training

Once your team is hired and your goalposts are set, you can begin training your staff.

This is one of the most critical aspects of your team building. Remember, according to the above report by SDL, 30 percent of customers could tell when the agent helping them wasn’t trained well enough. Proper training is a two pronged approach that must involve general education and one-on-one coaching.

Devise consistent training materials that factor in the service goals and corporate culture you’ve already worked out. From there, managers should guide their agents, listen to their service calls, and offer specific coaching on what needs to be improved.

5. Tools of the Trade

Much like a carpenter or an electrician, your contact centre agents need to have the right tools for the job. Research by Forrester found that 42 percent of service agents had been unable to efficiently solve customer issues due to outdated technology and disconnected contact centre systems.

This doesn’t mean your contact centre has to break the bank on the latest and greatest multichannel CRM systems, but it DOES mean that your agents need have the tools that empower their success. Examine your centre’s infrastructure and speak with your agents about issues that have come up. If your team consistently suffers from call disconnection or clumsy software that slows their efficiency, it might be time for an upgrade.

Delivering Exceptional Service

According to New Voice Media, approximately $41 billion is lost each year from poor customer service in the US alone.

Don’t let your contact centre fall victim to the pitfalls of poor service. Take some time to find qualified candidates, create effective training materials, and give them time to become used to your system. Slowly training your staff to deliver exceptional service from their first day is how you build a support team that can handle any challenge a customer throws their way.