Thursday, September 4, 2014

Keys to Avoiding Customer Service Disasters

Amazing business offering can only go so far without the customer service behind it. Virtually every person has experienced poor customer service at one point or another in their lives whether it was from a bank teller, cable company phone representative, or at their neighborhood bagel shop. Some customers will shrug & keep going while others will choose to take their business elsewhere.

When a large company is at risk of losing a customer, it has ample resources to try to cajole that customer back or to get more clients. Smaller firms may not have the luxury to take either approach. Without consistent quality of service, no matter how good the offering, customers will leave and competitors will capitalize on this opportunity.

Of course the best thing to do as a product or service provider is to avoid being in such a situation in the first place. How can you go about it?

Build Your Team Wisely
Not everyone can become a star customer service rep. In addition to having the solid product and/or service knowledge, that person has to have a pleasant demeanor, patience, professionalism, effective communication, and a problem-solving personality. Clients call to get answers to their questions and having someone on the other side that can empathize and wants to genuinely provide help will go a long way.

The job does not stop once you have the right people on board. It is vital to build a strong organization where team members can openly communicate with each other to leverage each other's expertise & help each other grow. Company culture plays a key role. Communico Ltd.,  a customer service training and consulting company encourages to "identify the behaviors aligned with your [company's] values" & use them to create a standard training program that highlights your identity as a customer service team.

Train & Empower your Team 
Without a solid understanding of the business offering your customer service reps are powerless when it comes to solving client problems. They need to be trained & highly experienced with the product. In today's rapidly evolving marketplace, in some industries it can mean staying on top of the latest developments in the industry as well. Creating certification programs, encouraging, and properly incentifying development opportunities helps ensure that your support team is engaged and finely attuned to helping address your client needs.

Put Metrics in Place
Track effectiveness of your customer support activity both internally and externally. Who are your leading knowledge experts? Who is struggling? What is the typical throughput? Implement call quality programs to gain deeper insights into your customer service trends. According to a 2006 Ascent Group Study, companies that implemented call quality programs saw a 4-10% rise in customer satisfaction.

Bring customers into equation by conducting interviews to get in-depth feedback and running periodic surveys to assess the trends. What suggestions do your customers have for you to provide better service for them? Using social media can be another great tool to track the success of your team's customer service efforts. Employ a public relations point person to track feedback in the social media and report back key findings.

Customer support is often treated as the necessary "evil," a cost driver that does not always bring back incremental revenues. However, without it, your commitment to stand behind the best products and services for your customers is in question.

What are some of your effective methods used in your company to keep your support team engaged and delivering the best results?

Rachel & the team

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