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Part 1/6 — Scaling support — 5 Questions To Ask Before Starting A Customer Service Team

A list of 5 important questions to ask before starting a customer service team. How do you define excellent customer service?

For many retail and e-commerce companies, success does not happen overnight — it’s a journey. As your company expands, how can you ensure that you will continue to stand out to your customers? The answer: Building a strong customer service team with one vision. Doing so will help retain a customer’s loyalty to your brand.

We’ve created a 6-part series on some of the challenges and insights of growing your support team. In this first part, we have compiled a list of 5 important questions to ask before starting a customer service team.

Question 1: What kind of employment will you offer your customer service agents?

Three support options companies consider are full-time, part-time, or independent contractor. However, you don’t have to stick to one type. You can also do a combination of the three, such as having a full-time team with additional contractors hired during busy seasons. Also, be sure to keep in mind the different career paths you can provide for customer service agents. Do you have the capacity to offer growth and career enrichment to those who show excellence in customer service?

Question 2: What skills will your agents need?

Ask yourself: If you were a customer, who would you want to answer your questions?

Typically, most customer service representatives only need a high school diploma. However, for some specific industries, more certification is needed. For example, agents in health-related companies may need HIPAA certification. Most companies develop their own training course to certify their customer service agents. Make sure to have the parameters clearly laid out throughout the interview process. You can set tiers of skills ranging from “a must,” to “nice to have,” and all the way down to “bonus.”

Question 3: How do you define excellent customer service?

So, we’ve figured out who we need for our customer service team. Now let’s examine what they need to do:

  1. Clearly define your company’s values and how they can be upheld in customer service.
  2. Set clear, consistent, definable metrics of excellence for your customer service team to uphold. This can include email response time, average handle time, interactions per resolutions, or simply a standardized send-off for customers ensuring their satisfaction.
  3. Research your competitors and turn their weaknesses into your strengths. What are the biggest and most common “pain points” the customers of your industry suffer with when contacting a customer service agent or call center? Avoiding these pitfalls will not only separate you from your competition but will show that you’re ahead of the curve.

Question 4: What channels do you want to prioritize for your customers?

A small customer service team cannot possibly keep all channels occupied 24/7. Identify your strongest channel(s) and keep the focus there. This can include email, social media, phone, live chats, self service tools, to name a few. While we know you want to be able to reach customers wherever they are, it’s better to give excellent customer service in one or two of these areas rather than attempting them all and giving spotty service.

Question 5: How do you plan to gather valuable customer data?

We’ve spoken to many fast-growing companies who regret not quickly building an easy customer feedback loop to reduce service costs and help drive sales. Your customers provide an insight into your product or service that you cannot get anywhere else. Giving them a clear and easy channel to address those issues can only strengthen your product and operations.

As a customer service manager, you can use the data given to you by your agents — What issues are your customers calling about? How frequently does each issue arise? How often is a certain remedy applied? These insights help strengthen every other department of your company, from research and development to sales and marketing.

These questions are just a starting point for your company when thinking about the best route to retain your customers. In the next part of our series, we’ll discuss the challenging topic that every manager must address: exploring the benefits/drawbacks of outsourcing vs. organically growing your customer service team.

If you have recently started a customer support team, what are some other challenges or “a-ha moments” that have inspired you? Let us know other examples or check out our resource, scalingsupport.com!

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