The most successful and top rated businesses have customer service departments that stand out above others in their industry and are a positive part of their reputation. However, all too often, the best intentions of improving customer service practices fail to translate into reality. This happens for many reasons, most often because a business doesn’t have enough time to train its staff on all the nuances they need to know to be wildly successful, or because they don’t have enough resources to pay their staff better (and therefore get more experienced people).
If you’ve found yourself in a similar boat, you don’t have to settle for anything less than top-notch customer support. Here are some common mistakes many businesses make when striving toward this goal, and how you can avoid them.
A Lack of Consistency
When a business is in a hurry to onboard new customer service agents, and get them up and running quickly, the approach (if not carefully executed) can often backfire. They likely intend to grow their staff as soon as possible so they can meet their growing customer needs, which makes sense. However, moving support staff into the role with too much speed can result in knowledge gaps.
The original good intention to quickly augment staff in order to meet growing customer demand often turns into delivering substandard service that can threaten a viable customer base your company has worked hard to build. Imagine the new scenario in which the good problem to have – a growing customer base – is no longer the issue. Now, unfortunately the new problem you are left solving for is the loss of the very customers you attempted to staff for in the first place.
Taking a closer look, new customer service personnel may give inconsistent answers to common customer questions simply because they’re unsure of the real answer or confused by all the information they’ve been asked to absorb quickly. For example, a customer calls in to a retail brand to ask about their return policy and the person on the phone may tell them they need to have the tags on the item for returns, but not for exchanges. However, in actuality they need the tags for either transaction. This seemingly simple mistake can quickly turn a satisfied customer into a dissatisfied customer. In the end, the customer service agent may be repeating information they overheard another team member say to a customer, but they might not have understood the context around the scenario they overheard.
Ultimately, the issue is not contained exclusively to one agent, but multiple agents as new customer service agents are learning and repeating false information observed from each other. In an effort to keep things consistent and accurate, we recommend spending more targeted time in training your customer service representatives as well as investing in experienced talent with profiles that match the desired performance outcome.
This is also why we recommend considering outsourcing your customer support services to a qualified BPO partner like Conectys. Conectys has extensive expertise in balancing the delicate process of ramping quickly while ensuring high quality customer service. Not only can we get you fully staffed within the tight time-frame you have, but you can also count on customer service representatives who have been through in-depth training, are multilingual, have extensive knowledge of your business and will consistently relay the most accurate information to your customers every time. And we can support your growth with the right technology, resources and communication channels you need to scale fast.
Not Enough Autonomy
When you’re trying to elevate your customer service standards, you might think you’ve covered all your bases by providing policies and procedures with in-depth information for your representatives. And in an effort to keep decisions under your control, maybe you set a precedent that any questions about certain topics or special requests should be routed to senior employees. However, there are often many problems that crop up when your front line customer service providers aren’t given enough decision-making power on their own.
For instance, if you have a software solution you sell, you might tell customer service personnel not to give any discounts to customers or to give anything away for free. Your intention in setting this limit is to avoid having the privilege abused and potential impacts on revenue. However, if a customer calls in about a problem with your software that has set them back in productivity – and therefore lost them time and revenue – your customer service representatives should be empowered to offer perhaps a free month of your software (or something similar) in order to apologize for the error. One free month (or a discount on a product) could be all that’s needed to salvage the relationship and retain the customer, which is far more valuable in the long run.
So, decide on what level of empowerment you feel comfortable giving your customer service department – and make sure they know the boundaries within that. Just remember that structured autonomy can enable your team to make faster decisions and solve customer issues more quickly, and more effectively.
The first two mistakes above can be classified as people and process problems, but this one is a technology problem. Businesses are always looking for ways to save money and cut expenses, and sometimes this means that they’re slow to upgrade their technology. In some cases, this might not be a bad thing. However, if you have products or services that require robust customer service support, your technology needs to be top of line.
For example, if your phone system emits a busy signal when all of your customer service agents are using their lines, other customers calling may become frustrated and decide not to even call you back. If you don’t have enough staff to answer every call, this is another good reason to consider engaging with a BPO partner who can do so on your behalf.
We also recommend upgrading to a phone system that is least likely to aggravate customers calling in. If callers must be placed on hold, give them the option of a virtual hold to request a call back from you when an agent is free (so they don’t have to wait on the phone and hear hold music) or at the very least the IVR can be set up to notify them of their place in line so they know how much longer they’ll need to wait. Another idea is to implement chat-based customer support on your website (we do this often for our customers so we can reach their customers the way they want to be reached).
Hitting the mark in customer service means better technology all around, including upgrading things like your CRM and case management platforms, reporting capabilities, incorporating CSAT/NPS platforms to collect customer satisfaction feedback and beyond. These seemingly little touches can go a long way in keeping you in tune with your customers’ needs and wants, and upgrading the image of your business’ commitment to customer service.
If you’d like help improving your customer support experience, contact us to learn more about how you can outsource these services to our qualified team.