Customer service leaders have one real job. They should make it easy for their employees to serve customers.
That can be a tall order.
Customer service employees have to navigate a jungle of obstacles. Angry customers, defective products, and corporate silos are just a few reasons why customer service is hard.
A good customer service leader takes a figurative machete to those obstacles and clears a path through the brush for their team.
If you’re a customer service leader, here are ten things you can do.
#1 Define Outstanding Service
Don’t assume everyone agrees on what outstanding customer service looks like. Work with your team to create a shared definition. This definition, called a Customer Service Vision, acts as a compass to point everyone in the same direction. (You can use this handy worksheet to help you.)
#2 Measure Progress
Everyone says customer service is important to the business, but it’s not really important until its measured. You can engage your team by setting SMART goals around key metrics. Good goals should make it easy for employees to understand what's important, and what's not.
#3 Act on Customer Feedback
Here’s a dirty secret: 95 percent of companies collect customer satisfaction data, but only 10 percent actually use that data to improve service. This is a potential gold mine of data to help you fix problems that irk your customers and frustrate your employees.
#4 Enlist Your Employees
There’s a good chance that your employees know the biggest obstacles to serving customers. They probably have some pretty good ideas for solving these problems, too. Unfortunately, many employees don't share this information. The simple solution? Ask them. They’ll be happy to share.
#5 Hire for Fit
Customer service gets a lot easier when you love your job. Pay special attention to hiring for culture fit. Figure out what's in your organization's unique secret sauce and then design your hiring process to find people who will love being there. Your goal is to find people who will love to do what you are asking them to do.
#6 Train Better
There’s a lot of crappy training going on. Some managers don’t have the time. Other managers just don’t know how. Avoid letting employees get lost on the learning curve and you’ll make their jobs much easier and more enjoyable.
#7 Encourage Quiet Time
Many customer service jobs require constant multitasking. Unfortunately, this causes a problem called Directed Attention Fatigue or DAF. The symptoms are identical to ADD, which isn’t great for customer service. The only solution is rest, which is why many companies are creating quiet rooms to help their employees recover.
#8 Fix Broken Products
It’s hard to serve with a smile when your product stinks. A recent analysis on the CX Journey blog showed the number one difference between engaged and disengaged baseball fans was success on the field (i.e. product). Work with other departments to put out a better product and service gets a lot easier.
#9 Fix Broken Systems
In his book, Strategic Customer Service, John Goodman estimates that as much as 60 percent of service failures are attributed to broken systems. It could be an unmonitored email box or chronically missed delivery appointments. A failure to fix these problems is like tying your hands behind your back and then trying to win an arm wrestling contest.
#10 Empower Employees
There’s a huge lack of empowerment in customer service. A recent report by ICMI revealed that 86 percent of contact centers don’t empower their employees to provide outstanding service. One reason managers don’t empower employees is it’s easy in theory, but difficult in practice. The good news is you can use this handy guide to help you.