Your customer support team is the backbone of your company. They can affect customer retention rates and overall revenue like you wouldn’t believe.
Trust in your company is entirely based on your customer service. Over 80% of companies reportedly working to improve their Customer Experience report an increase in revenue attributable to those efforts. (Source: Dimension Data)
Customers are more likely to stick with your company after they experience quality customer service on a regular basis. Plus, customer service is where the money is. And companies that make customer service a priority can experience up to 60% greater profits while companies that do not, routinely report no increase or even a decrease.
Behind every solid team of top-notch customer service reps is a solid leader. From hiring to training to general management, leading your team of customer support staff the right way could mean higher customer retention and overall profit for your business.
Here’s a list of what customer support managers need to know:
1. Look for experience when hiring.
While you do need to expect to spend some time training your new reps, you don’t want to waste a ton of time and resources doing it. You want to hire someone who already has a good idea of how to manage customers and has a proven track record of success.
Of course, there are always exceptions but it is not always necessary for candidates to have experience in your field of business. A good customer service rep will be able to quickly get up to speed with your products and services while someone who is well-versed in your industry may not be the best fit for a customer service position.
It is not only the experience itself that’s important. You should also take the length of time spent at previous jobs into consideration. Millennials are notorious for switching jobs at a faster-than-average rate due to what some would say are unrealistically high expectations.
You don’t want them dumping you after you’ve put in a ton of time and resources to train them. So, even if an applicant has a lengthy list of relevant job experiences, don’t forget to check out how long they lasted at each one.
2. Install a top-notch training system.
The best customer service rep training is systematic and revolves around performance. A typical customer support training process begins with orientation. This is where a new hire learns everything they possibly need to know about the way a service or product works, a company’s values, and the way to deal with common (and uncommon) questions, problems, and requests.
Next, many new customer service hires are expected to shadow a more established rep for several days. By the end of the shadowing process, the new rep should be running the show, while the more experienced rep oversees. Then, before a rep hits the ground running, they should first have to pass a test given by you, the manager.
Role-playing often works well for this test. Managers can pretend to be several customers with several different needs and personality types. After the new hire passes the test and begins to manage his or her customers, it’s important to continue checking in from time to time with regular evaluations, praise, and suggestions for improvement.
3. Create a team environment.
Promoting a sense of community in your company’s culture is a great way to increase the retention of your top employees. A sense of responsibility and teamwork is a big part of running a quality customer service system.
Teamwork means that reps are more willing to go out of their way to help one another with difficult callers. It also creates a generally positive attitude, which can lead to happier workers and therefore, better customer service.
One way to do this is through office rituals, like game room break times, monthly happy hours, or even weekly breakfasts or lunches. This also lets reps know they’re appreciated and in turn will increase their loyalty to your company. You can also sign up for team events, such as corporate races or fundraising events.
4. Consider offering remote working options.
Working outside of the cubicle is a very desirable option for many employees. Offering more flexible work location options has been known to increase productivity by as much as 88 percent. But it can be risky to have reps who are 100 percent remote workers, as they’ll miss out on office dynamics, easier communication, and that general sense of community.
It may be that your business wants to offer your employees the chance to work from home once per month, every other Friday, or maybe even once each week. Make sure that it’s clear that if productivity plummets, the work-from-home option goes.
If Conditions allow for it and progress can be properly monitored, letting employees take a work-at-home day instead of needing to use PTO or sick days to care for a family member can motivate younger workers to stay. Odds are your staff will be so grateful for the opportunity, that they’ll work even harder, both in and out of the office.
5. Adjust the hours and staff accordingly.
Most of the time, nine-to-five just doesn’t apply for customer service reps. While a lot of customers will call in during lunch breaks, it’s more common that they’ll want to get in touch after traditional work hours.
Since they’re working during traditional work hours. That means that you need to staff accordingly.
Monitor call volume to determine your busiest times and distribute work accordingly. Do not, however, leave any moment unaccounted for just because it receives less volume if you can in any way avoid it. People need customer service at all hours, especially if you’re an international company that has clients all over the world.
6. Offer rewards.
Rewards are an excellent way to increase motivation and office productivity. With customer service, this is especially important as you need your team to be both efficient so that they manage as many callers as possible, and positive, so that they give off pleasant, helpful vibes, at all times.
One way to encourage these happy attitudes and hard-working work ethics is through reward programs. It’s important to use verbal rewards on a regular basis because research proves that verbally applauding someone for their hard work will inspire them to do it more often.
That said, sometimes it takes more than a pat on the back. Often, financial incentives are a good option. If your customer service staff manages mostly sales, you could even provide a commission. If it’s more about troubleshooting and problem solving, you can offer rewards for volume, positive customer survey reviews, and even monitoring the calls yourself. Make sure that the prizes aren’t extravagant, or you may create jealousy in the office, but little treats here and there are great.
7. Managers Mindset
Think about it, those characteristics that make a good customer service agent also makes for good management.
- A willingness to help
- Ability to stay positive
- Being able to trust your own instincts
- A focus on improving processes
- A focus on improving yourself
- The ability to ask for help
- The ability to delegate
By applying some of these management approaches, you’re sure to notice positive changes in your customer service team. As a great manager and team leader, it’s up to you to inspire your service reps to be friendly, efficient, and hard working.
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About the Author: Bryan has over 30 years of business experience in B2B Sales, Sales Support, and Customer Service and a strong passion for learning new things.
Learn more about Bryan.