You answer the ringing phone on your desk. "Customer Service. How may I help you?" The response you receive is high pitched with agitation. "Hello, I've been waiting for 3 days and I still have not received my..." You can sense that the caller has sat through many long phone calls before she was able to finally reach you, the Customer Care Manager. She complains about the careless attitude of your company's CS representatives, the slow response time and a long list of other things. You understand from her complaints that she has been repeatedly ignored, lied to and made to chase her own tail. This is the fifth time you receive a call like this today and decide that something must be done.
Even though buying a suitable customer relationship management software (CRM) is essential, the way your team leverages it is equally important. Rather than treating CS as a low level job that can be assigned to anyone, give it its due right as a critical pillar of the business. According to Bain & Co, employee engagement in most companies drops steeply immediately after leaving the offices of C-level executives. It continues to decrease as it goes further down the employment chain and when it reaches positions that deal with customers, it is significantly lower. This uneven distribution results in an increase in incompetence among an organization's sales and CS representatives. The bottom line is if you treat front-line employees carelessly, they will return the favor to your customers. Below is a list of skills that, if developed, could greatly benefit your CS team to ensure that your customers receive the support and care they need.
Honesty and responsibility
Review websites are full of people retelling their bad experiences with CS and venting their frustrations in long paragraphs for anyone willing to read them. Most of this frustration stems from being lied to repeatedly creating a lack of trust and understanding between the customer and CS representatives. Often times CS employees leverage the anonymity of phone calls and support chats to escape doing their job correctly. In many instances, the reason this happens is due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the CS representative. Not knowing how to help becomes a regular occurrence and lying becomes an easy short term solution. To combat this issue, your CS team should be provided with the required knowledge to solve customer problems while being held accountable for maintaining honest relationships with callers. It is important to note that customers appreciate honesty. Informing them that you are unsure of how to help or that you have made a mistake means they can trust you, even if for an unknown reason you are at a loss for information as they are.
Your CS team will come across various types of personalities experiencing unique situations. Each reacts differently and some experience constant mood swings. CS representatives should be skilled in sensing the caller's state of mind based on the sound of their voice and respond in a suitable manner. They must also understand that they will not always have smooth interactions and should focus on adapting to the situation and trying to make the experience as easy as possible for the customer.
Reliability and consistency
One thing that is worse than no CS, is unreliable CS. Customers enjoy peace of mind when the service they receive is consistently good. Your CS representatives should all be well trained in following a consistent set of protocols in order to routinely meet customer expectations. A vital aspect of consistent CS is ensuring that your team is capable of following through in their support of the organization's customers until their issues are resolved. Often times in ill-maintained CS teams customers are constantly passed along from one representative to the other, leaving them in limbo and unsure of what to do. Additionally, after the issue is resolved, going the extra mile and carrying out follow-up calls makes customers feel cared for, which cements their loyalty.
Attentiveness to innovation
An effective CS manager is always looking for ways to develop and enhance the CS desk and the CS team should be an active part of this process. Not only should it be tasked with supporting customers, but CS representatives should also be trained in identifying and documenting recurring issues that prevent them from doing their jobs. These items could then be brought up in meetings for discussion. Having experienced these issues firsthand, the team can suggest refinements to these services to provide customers with an improved CS platform. Typically, most of these issues can be easily ramified. For example, CS representatives may feel restricted by business policies which prevent them from accessing sensitive areas and assisting customers. Business executives could work on modifying such policies in a way that provides CS with controlled and monitored access.