Regardless of the many tools on the market that are advertised as essential to the customer service process, anyone in customer service knows the #1 customer service tool any business can employ is a competent, happy, customer support team. It’s certainly valuable to provide the best possible resources to enable customer support staff to do their best, but additional resources are largely wasted if the people using them are not knowledgeable, capable and happy with their jobs. We previously covered how to put together a first-rate customer service team, and once that crucial first step is completed, it’s important to remember how valuable a strong customer service team is- and make sure the company treats them accordingly.
The members of the customer support team are the company’s primary contacts for customers. Their behavior towards customers and ability to deal effectively with all issues that arise has a direct influence on the company’s reputation. In addition, as the first and primary point of contact for the people using the company’s products, the customer support team is the most knowledgeable on what people think of them. If there’s an issue with a product or a common suggestion for how to improve it, the customer support representatives will be the first to hear it. The feedback heard and recorded by the customer support staff is a necessary component for informed product development. Countless resources can be wasted trying to fix perceived problems that aren’t bothering customers or make improvements they don’t actually want if product development doesn’t make use of customer feedback.
So how can a company make sure to get the most out of its most valuable customer service resource?
- Practice Active Listening – Schedule a regular meeting (i.e. 10 minutes every morning, or 1 hour every week) where all members of the support team are encouraged to share any issues experienced, relevant customer feedback and other important topics that the customer support team feels urgency to report. When supervisors are present and actively listening, a clearer view of the company and its customers are provided, while support staff will be empowered by having their voices heard.
- Incorporate Feedback – Listening is good, but it must be more than a symbolic gesture. Let the support team not only discuss customer support related issues, but also allow them to provide suggestions for solutions, while focusing on the benefits and downsides of implementing each possible solution. If there’s a general consensus that something new is worth a try, do it.
- Encourage New Learning – Any time new products are developed or changes are made to existing products, the customer support team should have training and any other available resources to stay experts on the products they represent. Encourage team members to attend webinars or conferences to learn more about the industry or improved techniques for customer support. Offering incentives (getting lunch catered for a company scheduled webinar, or planning a happy hour after a conference for all employees who attended) can help boost employee enthusiasm, and make a support team want to get more involved.
- Think Like a Team – A good manager or business owner doesn’t make decisions independently. When there’s an intelligent, experienced team of people with unique ideas eager to help, it’s foolish not to incorporate them into the process. Make sure their suggestions are genuinely considered, and respected no matter how different, creative, or unexpected they may be. Thinking outside of the box can be a valuable asset to resolving many issues.
- Keep Everyone Happy – If the staff members working with customers are unhappy in their jobs, it will inevitably show in the way the company is presented and issues are handled. Few people can effectively convince others of the value of something they don’t care for themselves. A company should consider it a top priority to create an environment in which representatives love their jobs. Embrace your company’s culture and encourage your employees to have a good time while they meet their goals.
Even the greatest, most versatile resources available are worthless if not used properly. A great customer support team that’s not properly appreciated and valued will not be very motivated to accomplish all they are capable of. In addition to the immeasurable wasted potential, a company risks losing its best customer service representatives when those representatives feel under-appreciated. Don’t let the #1 customer service tool available to the company go to waste.