Your company is growing and you're receiving more questions and requests from your customers. You have decided that it is time to forge the next branch of your business empire: build a customer service team. To succeed, ask these 7 following questions before starting your team:
The main options you have are full time, part-time, and independent contractors, but before you go hiring a full team of full time agents, don’t think you must stick with one type! You can also structure a combination of the three, such as having a full time team with additional contractors hired during busy seasons. Additionally, 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?
Ask yourself: if you were a customer, who would you want to have in the front lines answering your questions? Typically, most first time customer service representatives only need a high school diploma. However, for some specific industries, more certification and an expansive knowledge base is needed. For example, those in the tech industry may need a Bachelor's degree in engineering, or those in healthcare may need HIPAA certification. Most companies develop their own training course and webinars to certify their customer service department agents. Make sure you have clearly laid out parameters throughout the interview and onboarding processes. You can set tiers of customer service skills ranging from “must” to “nice-to-have,” and all the way down to "bonus". You can also use LinkedIn searches to ensure you're getting the right profiles.
We figured out who we need for our customer service team. Now, let’s examine how to ensure their success:
A small customer support team cannot possibly work in all time zones to keep 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, help desks, to name a few. While we know you want to be able to reach customers wherever they are, it’s better to provide world-class customer experience in one or two of these, rather than attempting them all and ending up with lackluster service.
Getting your CEO to agree to increase staff isn’t always easy, but here’s a good point to get them on your side: increasing sales through customer service. According to a Forrester Study, 52% of customers will bail on an online purchase if they cannot easily access the specific information they are looking for about a product. Having support team members ready to handle inquiries not answered by an FAQ page and providing follow-up on dropped orders is paramount in saving these sales and maintaining happy customers.
While getting new customers is always the goal of a growing company, keeping the ones you’ve already made is half the battle within your customer success department. Considering it costs approximately 6 - 7x more to lock down new customers than it does to retain them, it is definitely worth the investment. According to the US Small Business Association, 68% of customers who abandon a product do so because of poor customer experience. Keep your people happy, and they’ll talk about you to their people. That's called word-of-mouth marketing–- and it's free!
As Elon Musk once said, “It's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better.” Your customers provide insights into your product or service that you cannot get elsewhere. Giving them a clear and easy channel to address those issues can only strengthen your product and customer relationships. After all, customer insights are crucial for product direction and providing great customer service experience. David McConnell, the founder of Avon, found that he couldn’t sell his books door to door. However, he noticed his female clients were interested in the free perfume samples he provided. So, he decided to pivot his business: McConnell made his own perfume then hired female salespeople to sell them door to door, instead of attempting the sales himself. As a customer service manager, you can use the data given to you by your agents to understand your customer needs, the most pressing customer issues, and how frequently each issue arises, in order to effectively strengthen all departments of your company- from research and development to sales and marketing.
Still have questions around launching a great customer service team? Let us know!