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You want each representative of your brand to be informed and effective in helping customers. You want them to be able to answer a question quickly and independently without the need to pass things off on a regular basis.
This is especially true for a startup, where the person receiving “passed-off” questions is far too often the owner, who is typically bogged down with countless other responsibilities. If you’re an entrepreneur with a handful of people fielding questions between your customers and yourself, you want to have a team in place that can handle most of these inquiries with autonomy. You want your customer support team to feel empowered.
Here are a few suggestions for the best ways to equip your customer support staff with the knowledge, tools and confidence to represent your brand on their own.
1. Create a clear customer service infrastructure
The first step in creating an autonomous customer service team is creating a competent and understandable framework for your team to work within.
This doesn’t have to be rocket science. On the contrary, all you need to do is engage in basic activities, like setting expectations and establishing SMART goals.
These simple actions are often overlooked. But having an infrastructure in place helps your team remain consistent and on the same page as they help each client with their own one-of-a-kind concerns.
2. Take the time to train
It doesn’t matter if your company creates cutting-edge tech or fixes leaky pipes. Knowledge is an essential element for any customer service representative. That’s why taking the time to properly train your customer service agents is a high priority.
Customer service quality assurance company MaestroQA recommends being strategic about how you coach your reps. Don’t assume that they know things. Don’t offer canned, shallow training sessions. Meet each team member where they are and help them attain the knowledge they require to represent your brand.
In addition, consider creating quality assurance (QA) tools to help guide your ongoing training sessions. Things like coaching templates and QA scorecards can guide training and ensure that your reps are perpetually improving their knowledge of your brand and products.
3. Ingrain the ultimate end goal
SMART goals are excellent practical tools to help you reach certain milestones with your customer service staff. Regardless of where each employee is in their training, though, you also want to impress on them the ultimate goal of all customer service activity: customer satisfaction.
A team member who gets frustrated or snippy with a client must understand that they are undermining their ultimate goal. Passing off a tough question that they can, in fact, answer simply out of laziness or intimidation is similarly unhelpful.
Make sure to ingrain the end goal of customer satisfaction into all of your support activities. Make it your team’s North Star, no matter where they are in their training and experience.
4. Teach adaptability
The ability to adapt is a well-known part of the modern professional lifestyle. Technology changes. Customer expectations are always in flux. An employee who can’t adapt to change in perpetuity will eventually be left behind.
That’s why, along with specific tools, you want to teach your customer support team to have a growth mindset. According to the creator of the term, Carol Dweck, a growth mindset means you believe you can develop your inherent talents through things like hard work and input from others.
Establish the need for a growth mindset throughout your staff. This will prepare them to adapt and grow along with the needs of both your business and your clients.
5. Prioritize one-on-one sessions
Good communication is key to all business activities. In a small business, in particular, you want your team to remain comfortable talking with one another at all times. In addition, you want your communication to be high-quality, including the ability to openly discuss topics and trust one another.
One of the best ways to cultivate this intimate communication is through one-on-one training. Group sessions are adequate and efficient ways to transfer basic knowledge, like how a piece of software works.
However, if you want your team members to be more confident, also take the time for individual time together. This can be used for tailored training sessions. You can also provide targeted and constructive feedback. It may feel like an extra thing to do, but individual sessions empower your employees and make life much easier for everyone in the future.
6. Put quality tools in place
If your customer support tools are inadequate, they’re going to hold back your agents. Fortunately, there are many good software solutions available that can equip and empower your team.
For instance, you may want to purchase a cloud-based CCaaS (contact center as a service) software solution. This makes information easily accessible to your agents. It can also streamline many run-of-the-mill conversations and free your team up to focus on more difficult inquiries.
7. Set the tone yourself
As with all things in business, it’s difficult to expect others to act a certain way if you aren’t willing to do so yourself. As you teach your startup’s customer service team to tend to the needs of your customers, make sure to set the example as their leader.
Show them how to talk from the perspective of your brand. Demonstrate an authoritative knowledge of your products or services. Always put customer satisfaction first.
By showing your representatives how you act with customers, you demonstrate how they should feel empowered to act.
You don’t need a massive call center to create some structure for your customer service activities. Even a startup with a lean customer service team can remain purposeful as they help their clients.
This starts with cultivating confident, well-informed, and empowered individuals to represent your brand. Use the tips above to improve each of your rep’s capabilities as they field questions, create unique answers and serve on the front line of your company’s ongoing operations.