What are the key bottom lines of any business? Attracting new customers, closing as many deals as possible, retaining clients, and making them happy. Marketing and sales teams usually handle the first two. A customer support department, in its turn, is responsible for the last point in this row.
Think about your customer service strategy. Is it up to par? If it’s not the case, you’re not alone. 72% of businesses claim that fine-tuning their customer support is a top-of-mind priority.
A strong customer support team is at the heart of every success story. Who can help clients make the most of a product? Who can address their questions and concerns no matter what? That’s right — a highly trained support rep.
It’s best to follow a certain plan if you want your support department to be special. Don’t have any yet? Fear not — this is a crash course on how to create a seamless customer support department.
What is a support team?
A customer support department consists of people who strive for excellent customer experience. It’s a sympathetic team that puts each client’s concern first and is dedicated to helping customers achieve their goals.
What’s more, this is a powerful squad that offers assistance with onboarding, troubleshooting, or upgrading processes. When successful, a stellar support team nurtures customer relations even after a deal goes through.
If you think that a customer support department remains uninvolved in the company’s decision-making processes, it’s not true. A perfect support team is a part of the whole unit today. By joining other departments (marketing, sales, or developers), it’s possible to increase efficiency, save each other time, and deliver holistic customer service.
What makes a good support team?
Creating an effective support department requires all team members to have a proper set of qualifications to perform to the best of their abilities. These are our TOP 6 characteristics describing a well-qualified customer support department:
- Proactivity: by delivering proactive customer service, you can show your willingness to help clients before an issue even pops up. Such an approach ensures clients feel appreciated and heard.
- Patience: if you as a customer service agent react to some customer questions with impatience or frustration, nothing is going to work out. At the end of the day, a customer support department is a place where people are supposed to be assisted with understanding and respect.
- A problem-solving ability: whether it’s a management issue (identifying budget priorities, proving ROI, etc.) or a tricky customer question that needs to be handled right now, a seasoned expert should be able to cope with all of it. Customer support problem-solving techniques are what a support team member should practice from time to time.
- Teamwork: combining forces for your customers to get the greatest service develops critical thinking, promotes easy knowledge sharing between employees, and boosts productivity.
- Pleasant interaction: a chatbot or any other computer might deal with some common requests just fine. But when it comes to more complex issues, human communication is a must-have. Be nice and friendly to demonstrate an element of trust and the readiness to go the extra mile for a customer.
- In-depth knowledge: your staff can do special customer service training (personality tests, educational videos, role plays, etc.), but sometimes there’s a need for additional details on a subscription process or a simple timely apology. Ensure your support team members know all the ins and outs of what you offer. Otherwise, irritation is around the corner.
7 Surefire Ways to Create a Top-Notch Customer Support Team
Here you are, all set to build a support team from scratch. Take a look at these 7 building blocks that make for a solid foundation.
#1 Set the core metrics
Before the very start, you should ask yourself a question about what great customer service means to you. This is a crucial pivot point to get everyone on the same page in your team. Plus, it’s an opportunity to work out your customer service philosophy.
When you’re breaking new ground, define the quality of service you’re going to provide. Once you’re done with this, you’ll have a set of KPIs to measure your team performance.
We’ve researched that matter, and according to SE Ranking support team leader Anna, their team has four criteria when it comes to performance evaluation:
1. Customer satisfaction rate. They track this rate with the help of HelpCrunch reports and it depends on the percentage of closed and rated chat. SE Ranking’s end goal is 98% satisfied clients which they successfully achieve.
2. Reviews. At SE Ranking, their customer support team is obligated to attract at least 10 reviews on G2Crowd and other review websites every month. This number is also very subjective for every business, but making it the core KPI is always a good idea.
3. Demos. Demos are essential for attracting and converting high-quality leads because they’re able to showcase all the benefits of your business right there. That’s why it makes sense to specify the number of demos per month as well as the conversion rate from demo to subscription- or payment-based on your overall number of customer support requests.
4. Upsell activities. You can pay something extra for some additional work. Even though upselling is not a direct duty of your customer support team members, you can encourage them to do it. For instance, if they do 5-10 upsells per month, reward it in some way.
#2 Empower your team
When you hire new people, don’t put limitations on their capabilities. Let them express creativity, feel their responsibility, and give the authority to make decisions when interacting with customers. Training a support team to serve the best interests of clients will make the huge difference between just okay customer support and five-star reviews.
Provide your customer service staff with a proper toolset so that they perform their tasks sufficiently. Speaking of customer service tools available right now, you can choose whatever suits your needs: live chat, email, or knowledge base.
HelpCrunch, an omnichannel customer communication platform, is perfect for a busy support team and involves all the above-mentioned tools. Interact with your clients via live chat, email, and store valuable info under the same dashboard. Given that users are tech-savvier today, self-service will be easier for them with a knowledge base software solution (and as a bonus, you can lessen the load off your customer support). Plus, the knowledge base is integrated into the chat widget now. So, finding the solution is a snap.
#3 Become a motivator
Happy customer support reps lead to happy customers. More than 70% of clients say they will share good customer service experience with others. So, why don’t you move in this direction by encouraging your support department first?
There are a dozen ways to motivate your team members and make them arrive to work in positive humor:
- Provide real-time customer feedback: take advantage of what your clients are saying and use their reviews as a positive reinforcement throughout the day. Let your customer support team know they do a great job.
- Corporate events and team-building activities: try to arrange those get-togethers somewhere outside your office, wear casual clothes, and come up with some fun stuff. This will help your support team unwind a little, boost employee morale, and just break the ice.
- Create an incentive program: offer higher wages and promotions, set up awesome perks for an amount of successfully finished chats by the end of the day, or ideal performance. Plus, be okay with unlimited sick leaves, a week off at the end of December, etc. There can be as many options as you can think of.
- Explain how to make amends after a negative interaction: a customer support position isn’t a piece of cake. People have different backgrounds and tempers. And a support team absorbs the negativeness like a sponge. As a manager, tell your staff how to make this right after a bad experience with a client. This can serve as a strong motivation to achieve a better result next time.
- Build a friendly competition: gamification can turn hard work into fun. For instance, incorporate various skill levels for support agents to shoot for and compete. Give a ‘Speed King’ trophy for the fastest issue resolution and a ‘Customer Guru’ badge for an excellent customer satisfaction chat rate.
#4 Mind quick responses
Who wants to waste time listening to on-hold music or waiting for a message from a customer support rep? Nobody. 53% of users claim they become irritated if they don’t talk to a real person right away.
While email support isn’t as prompt as we wish it to be, going for a live chat option can be a way out. A service team can use canned responses to save themselves much time and assist customers timely (as we do, you can check the image below). Thanks to enhanced capabilities of live chat, one customer support agent can handle up to 5 conversations simultaneously. It’s better to choose speedy replies to satisfy clients rather than cry over their leave.
Here’s when practical experience won’t hurt. To take your support team’s speed typing skill to the next level, try the typing speed test. It’s not only fun but also productive. Train customer support agents so that clients receive answers faster. Moreover, consider various both online and offline workshops or even special literature to read.
#5 Listen to your customers
Though this statement may seem a little bit obvious, many businesses disregard it. However, understanding your clients and being aware of what they want can be beneficial.
First of all, you can tune up a customer first strategy according to their wishes. Clients can even serve as beta testers of your product or service and find bugs to fix. Second of all, your support team will learn how to gather feedback and turn it to an advantage. Their opinions are a valuable source of data that can help you realize how they feel about your stuff.
Besides, you can utilize those reviews to guide your business and marketing processes. The last but not the least is customer appreciation and, as a result, massive word of mouth. All of it is worth giving it a shot, isn’t it?
- Usability tests
- Online surveys
- User research
- Street-level user testing
#6 Promote cross-departmental collaboration
A support team needs a complete picture of the customer’s journey. They face only one side of the coin without getting to see the decisions a client makes before the final purchase. Sales and marketing departments handle other equally important aspects of your clients’ buying process instead. Should a support team partner up with them? Sure!
Make knowledge sharing and learning a part of your daily routine. It will help your team cooperate and transfer positive vibes to customers. Clear internal communication will set the tone for how staff and management should treat each other.
It’s always possible to recommend an upgrade option, but catching the right timing is more important. If customer support reps work together with marketing and sales experts, they will know what to cross- or upsell enticingly.
On the flip side, marketing and sales can learn stuff from a support department. Let your customer support agents highlight the most current clients’ needs and coach the others on how to format their content.
We at HelpCrunch prefer working as one strong unit. For instance, our customer success managers (CSM) usually transfer clients directly to the sales rep when they’re interested in a demo or upgrading. Besides, our developer team helps a lot. They added a Slack integration: from now on, customer messages can get right into the Slack channel where sales, devs, and CSMs can see them and handle burning questions fast.
#7 Turn advanced technologies to your advantage
Take time to know your clientele. Showing them you care is even better than offering something for free. Sure, people like to be remembered. And your task is documenting every interaction, feature request, or anything else so that you can cultivate great customer relations.
An awesome example of a company that cares for its customers is IKEA. This Swedish furniture brand stands out with its forward-thinking approach and innovations. One of their mind-blowing products is a specially designed app IKEA Place. Owing to AR technologies, it lets people see how a piece of furniture can fit within the interior of their living space.
IKEA utilizes this technology to better understand what items drive purchase behavior so that they can promote the greatest product benefits. For instance, they can collect relative data to use it for retargeting campaigns, create segments for social media or email marketing.
Building a customer support team that can cater to the customers’ needs efficiently might be a tough nut to crack. But if you put all the tips we’ve discussed today to work, you’re bound to succeed. Just bear the key takeaways in mind: be proactive, motivate your team members, listen to your clients, be honest and transparent, and leverage on the right tools. Sign up for HelpCrunch, test its advanced features (a free 14-day trial is at your disposal), and create a support dream team.
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