Offering outstanding customer service is critical if you wish to retain customers and grow your business. However, exceptional customer support is more than just providing answers to user queries. It is, in fact, a part of the promise you make to your customers – it is the voice and face of your company.
Collaboration: Key to outstanding customer service
Providing your customer support team with the right tools and training is one thing. Driving a distinctive service culture is another. And, when it comes to service culture, there’s nothing more important than collaboration between your team members to drive their efficiency and user experience.
Promoting collaboration between agents helps in knowledge sharing and faster problem–solving. When the leadership and the support team work together, it becomes easier to identify the roadblocks and take measures to overcome them. Overall, increased collaboration between a company and its customers drives better user experiences and builds deeper brand relationships.
Here are some reasons why customer support teams need to collaborate better:
1. Reduced efficiency
Most support agents work well as individual contributors. However, an efficient support team calls for constant collaboration on various aspects to save time and frustration. For instance, if support agents don’t collaborate, they will waste time answering the same basic questions. Besides, as different team members may be better acquainted with certain aspects, not collaborating can increase the response time with agents digging into areas they don’t understand well.
2. Frustrated customers
Long wait times, unresolved queries, unanswered comments on social media, and frustrated customers go hand in hand. Yes, inadequate or inefficient customer service is an indication that you don’t value your customers’ time which adversely impacts your customer experience and eventually leads to churn.
Unfortunately, when the various departments in your company work in silos, such issues are likely to pile up, leading to enormous costs for your business in the long run. For instance, suppose I call up support with a query regarding a new promotion, and the marketing team refuses to share information with the support team. In that case, the support agent will redirect my call to someone who has more information or keep me waiting for a response until they hear back from the relevant people. In the worst–case scenario, I’ll end up repeating my query to several people, get frustrated, post a negative review, and perhaps not transact with the business ever again.
3. Impeding self–service options
Making customers a part of the problem–solving process can improve your customer service considerably. According to a piece in the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers across industries try to take matters into their own hands before connecting with a live agent. Many would thus prefer to turn to a well–put–out knowledge base to solve their issues – which can save considerable time and effort for businesses as well. However, a knowledge base can only work if your teams work in tandem to put together the commonly asked queries and proven solutions for all to benefit from. Interdepartmental–silos pose a considerable barrier to collecting know–how and helpful resources, which can impede your customer service experience.
4. Reduced employee satisfaction
Segregated teams not only lower customer experience but also impact employee satisfaction and productivity. Not having the support of your team and peers, being left out, and running from pillar to post to get your work done can lead to burnout and reduced productivity. Of course, you can replace underperforming employees, but poor culture will wear out the most important asset of your business – your employees, without whom your business might perish.
How to provide exceptional customer service through collaboration?
It’s vital to build a cohesive customer service team and break down the barriers with other teams so that the entire organization works as a single unit. Here are some steps you can take to achieve that goal:
Equipping your team with the proper collaboration tools
Collaborative technology aims to make your team’s life easier. For instance, providing your team with the right communication tools to promote real–time interactions can immensely reduce their workload. In the past, most of the communication was using email, which took a significant amount of time and increased pressure due to information overload.
Today, you can leverage advanced customer engagement platforms that link to your CRM for a unified customer view. Such platforms are integrated with multiple communication modes and create a centralized repository of customer information and past chats to drive business insights. So, your agents can use live chat or social media engagement tools to provide a speedy response or switch to video conferencing or co–browsing to explain tricky issues in real–time or troubleshoot complicated issues swiftly.
With the entire team looped into the same system, it’s also possible to float customer queries to all the agents in real–time. This helps in finding the best solution in the shortest possible time. A common communication platform will also lead to an automatically updating internal knowledge base that can be searched to find answers to basic problems.
Building an exceptional service culture
The service culture you promote is the foundation of your customer experience. To begin creating an outstanding customer service experience, it is vital to identify individuals with the right skills to be a part of your customer support team. Additionally, you must train them in customer service skills like active listening, handling objections politely, and practicing patience and empathy.
Building trust in your team
Promoting teamwork is good, but it’s also essential to give your customer–facing staff the autonomy and freedom to deliver an excellent customer service experience. For instance, Carlton Hotels famously provides a small pre–approved budget to its employees for wowing customers. Any employee, be it a housekeeper or a manager, can spend up to $2,000 per guest to resolve an issue without consulting a supervisor. Of course, $2,000 sounds like a lot of money but even a tiny budget and autonomy to perhaps send a little gift or discount to amaze customers can go a long way in creating an exceptional customer experience.
Creating a centralized knowledge base
While organizations understand the importance of collecting and consistently sharing data, inter–departmental silos and fragmented customer service channels can create breaks in data. A 2019 study found 58% of brands to be inconsistent in responding to queries on various social media channels. This leads to poor customer experience and wastage of time and effort in maintaining disparate knowledge sources. By centralizing all the data into a constantly updating knowledge base accessible to everyone, you can empower your customer service teams with all the information they need at their fingertips and also bring down overall costs.
Good customer service is all about being prompt, courteous, and accurate. But there is even more you can do to create an exceptional service experience. For instance, providing your customer–facing teams with the right technology is a great start. However, you also need to focus on training and create a customer–centric culture throughout the organization to drive the results you desire. Simple things like creating an internal database, keeping the employees motivated through rewards and recognitions, and giving them the freedom to be innovative will translate into meaningful customer interactions.