Customer service is often one of the most overlooked ways to help brand your company. It will most likely be the only way that your customers actually interact with your company and much of their impression will be based on how their conversation with a customer service representative goes. Therefore, it is imperative to have a solid plan when building and managing your customer service team.
Make Customer Service A Priority
If possible, make customer service a department all by itself. It’s too important to hide away in some other department. As mentioned, many people’s lasting impressions of a company are directly correlated to their experience with customer service. If they had a great experience then they will probably tell a lot of people and want to do business with your company again. Customers want to know that if they have a problem then it will get fixed and that the company truly cares about helping them solve whatever issues arise.
On the contrary, if a customer has a negative experience they are probably more willing to seek out the competition and dissuade their friends from using your products or services. Look at your customer service team as implementing free advertising among your customers. Of course, you would rather have a solid ad campaign than a smear campaign.
Happy People, Happy Place
When putting together a customer service team you want to emphasize hiring only happy, energetic people. Moreover, you should hire someone with thick skin as well. Customer service calls can get rather intense sometimes and can force representative to crack and reciprocate with anger. No matter how infuriated a customer gets it’s imperative that your customer service representatives stay upbeat and truly try and help the customer with his or her problems. This will surprise people and go a long way to projecting a positive image for your company.
Spend some time on the décor around the customer service department. Provide comfortable chairs, hang up some nice paintings and put in a fish tank. Also, make sure to have a place for your customer service reps to decompress and blow off steam. As mentioned, customer service calls can get out of hand and your employees are likely to bottle up some feelings during the calls in order to remain as positive and happy as possible. Even the people with the thickest skin need to release some of that anger sometimes and should be provided with a place to do so.
Train Your Reps Well
Customer service representatives should be some of your most knowledgeable employees. After all, they will have to end up answering questions about anything and everything. There’s nothing more annoying than getting passed off and having to wait on the line as exemplified by Nina from Office Space.
Teach your customer service reps about the company as well. ESPN does a great job of forcing all of their new employees to learn about the history and tradition of the company. If the employees in your customers service department have a better understanding of what your company does, what it stands for and how it came to be then they are more likely to provide positive support.
Let The Bad Ones Go
Having a negative employee in your customer service department will not only give a bad impression to your customers but will bring down the morale of the entire department. The goal is to try and create a nice support system amongst the customer service reps so that the mood remains upbeat. Stay on top of your team and address any and all problems as they come up. If there appears to be a common problem with one of your employees then it’s probably best to part ways with that individual.
Reward The Good Ones
It may not be as easy to see which of your customer service reps are exceling because you can’t necessarily track sales, but take the time to listen in on a few calls here and there. When a particular employee does a nice job, let them know and let others around the office know. A nice reward can range anything from monetary compensation to an “Employee of the Month” award. Employees like to feel like their hard work is being recognized, and are more likely to keep it up if their superiors are taking notice.
Blanchard, Olivier. "Customer Love: 10 Steps to Building a Kickass Customer Service Department." The Brand Builder Blog. 18 May 2006. Web. 21 July 2011. http://thebrandbuilder.blogspot.com/2006/05/customer-love-10-steps-to-building.html>.
Morrow, Peggy. "Eight Keys to Creating a Customer Service Culture, Customer Service Article - Inc. Article." Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs. 2 Aug. 2000. Web. 21 July 2011. http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/08/20028.html>.