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 and are ready to build a customer service team. Here are 7 questions to ask before starting a customer service team:
The main options you have are full time, part-time, and independent contractors, but don’t think you must stick with one type. You can of course also do some 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?
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 more 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 to have the parameters clearly laid out throughout the interview and the onboarding processes. You can set tiers of customer service skills ranging from “a 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 profile.
We figured out who we need for our customer service team, now let’s examine what they need to do:
A small customer support 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, help desks, 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 experience in one or two of these rather than attempting them all and giving spotty service.
Getting your CEO to agree to increase staff isn’t always easy, here’s a good points 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 is paramount in saving these sales.
Getting new customers is of course always the goal of a growing company, but keeping the ones you’ve already made is half the battle within your customer success department. Considering it costs approximately 6 - 7x more locking down new customers than it does to retain them, it’s worth the investment. According to the U.S. 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 an insight into your product or service you cannot get anywhere else. Giving them a clear and easy channel to address those issues, can only strengthen your product and your customer relationships After all, customer insights are crucial for product direction, and are a great tool towards providing a 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. He decided to pivot his business, make his own perfume, and sent women to sell them door to door instead of himself. As a customer service manager, you can use the data given to you by your agents–your customer needs, what customer issues your are getting the most calls out of, how frequently each issue arises, how often a certain remedy is applied, etc. to help strengthen every other department of your company, from research and development to sales and marketing.
Still have questions around launching a great customer service team? Let us know!