By Adrian Brady-Cesana
Most small or medium size companies have at least some rudimentary components of Customer Service investments and tools into their organizational systems. And some have truly made significant investments such as in major designs, SaaS software, or automated interactive channels. All such Tools are not only invaluable but often necessary.
And yet, as I always emphasize – and as I explain extensively in my Book “The Four CX Pillars to Grow your Business Now” – no matter how expensive a tool set is at your disposal, you will never be successful in your Customer Service endeavors without a dedicated, competent, fully supported, and totally operationally integrated Customer Service Team!
Various considerations apply to this endeavor, based on the size, the history, and the longevity of a given organization and established Customer Service Team, from one designing an operation from scratch with a brand new Start Up, to another in the midst of a fast growing and successful company showing tremendous progress and potential.
The following are four Elements nevertheless, that if fully applied and integrated into any given Customer Service Team will undoubtedly ensure its success and that of its company, regardless the current evolutionary status and process of your Customer Service Team or company:
- Build a Cohesive and Dedicated CS/CX Team
According to CX research and surveys, if you don’t centralize your Customer Service operation, you’re wasting time and money and doing your customers a disservice.
Organizations that concentrate Customer Service (CS) to a single point of ownership not only put the customer experience front and center, they also gather more and better data, measure harder metrics, and act on them appropriately for better outcomes. Distributed CS organizations, on the other hand, might not even see the challenges, let alone tackle them.
Your company’s ability to deliver great CS flows from your grasp of the customer journey. Be sure all team members understand the customer’s entire experience, regardless of whether the touchpoint involves marketing, sales, design, service or product development. Build the skills and mindset within your team to fully align with your overarching CX vision.
- Your Customer Channels & Touchpoints is your Start.
Your products, services and customers define your channel mix. Determine where your target customers consume your offerings and manage their accounts: that’s where you need to provide service right out of the chute. If it is your website, offer web chat. If it is your mobile app, offer mobile chat.
Next, consider how your customers will contact you for support or service. Start with the highest volume, most broadly accessible channels, probably web and mobile chat. Then add phone — still invaluable for certain customer segments and complex, high-touch situations — and async Messaging, which is increasingly being valued by companies and customers alike.
Now, how do you expect prospects to find you? If from Google Search, offer contact options on search results. If from a map app, offer Apple Business Chat or Google’s Business Messages. If from social sites and discussions, offer social messaging such as Facebook Messenger. If from display ads, invest in conversational ads that enable interested users to interact immediately rather than clicking through to a landing page.
- Prepare and Support Your Customer Facing Team
Your agents need a clear Vision and Appreciation for your Brand to focus their every interaction: that’s your organization’s Brand promise — the clear, unique, and compelling value they’ll convey to every customer, every time.
Capture agent conversations. You’ll use this information for future training and automation, as well as to recognize exceptional service and to reinforce the brand promise. Enlist company executives, getting them to listen in on calls and review chat transcripts so they’re in tune with customer expectations and sentiment.
Bear in mind that different channels require agents with different skill sets and temperaments. Large companies should probably use separate, dedicated agents for each channel. Smaller operations may start with blended agents, but should be prepared to recruit for a much higher skill set.
For more complex service needs, consider a team of experts (TEX) model which have been proven to virtually eliminate contact center runaround, speed knowledge transfer, reverse what had been a years-long slide in CSAT scores, improve agent satisfaction, and lower operational costs.
4. Automate and Support Adoption of Customer Self-Service Where Needed
In order to make your CS Team as effective as possible, it is critical that you provide Automation whenever possible or desirable.
Customer Self-Service is the first and most effective process to automate.
Identify the 100 to 200 most commonly asked questions and implement a simple FAQ bot. It will likely contain as much as 15% of your customers’ contacts almost immediately. Customers like to self-serve and will happily skip an agent queue to do so. Use available tools to automate the process of discovering customer intents contained in chat transcripts and to obtain precise results. Use a bot to automate new high-volume transactions as they arise. Monitor automation performance. When you detect new intents, automate the ones with significant volume.
Be sure to leverage your automation investments across channels, either by using a platform that automatically adapts content or by developing your own layer that enables you to design flows once and deploy them across multiple digital and voice channels.
Leading, collaborating, and partnering with your Customer Service Team is one of the most exciting, satisfying, although always challenging aspects of your company’s life. Enjoy the journey as you constantly strive to improve your own leadership skills, along with your Customer Service Team effectiveness!