Whether you are the customer support team or you have an army of 10,000 agents, this article can help you improve your efforts.
Is your business-to-business company going through fundamental shifts in how your support team interacts with customers? Do you still funnel everything through one person who seeks out answers from different departments? Many businesses now employ support agents who know a little about everything. These agents specialize in answering customer questions. They save time for the rep (no need to track down who has the right answer). They also save time for the customer (who can ask questions directly to specialized employees).
So what are some ways to best develop your customer support team? Here are 4 ideas:
1. Don’t take a “one and done” approach.
When a ticket comes in, you want to make sure agents understand that it will not stand alone. It will just be a small part of a greater customer conversation.
Make sure you have some sort of customer support software. This way agents can view and understand how other agents have interacted with this company in the past. This will help prevent something customers absolutely hate – being told to try the same (non-working) solution twice.
2. Promote collaboration to solve issues.
Customer support agents come from all walks of life and have a wide array of experiences. A good support team uses their collective knowledge to solve issues. It doesn’t pin tickets on agents that may be troublesome for them to solve alone.
Once configured, collaborative customer support software can route tickets automatically. This way, any issues about a specific topic or theme go directly to the people who specialize in this area. Within the software, groups of agents can then work together to solve tickets quickly. Encouraging agents to communicate through internal chats can also help in addressing customer issues more efficiently.
3. Test (and develop) technical proficiencies.
Regardless of the industry you are supporting, the need for agents with technology skills is increasing. Especially in the B2B world, more and more companies are moving away from traditional support models. They’re now focusing on omnichannel support software as it saves both time and money. With this said, it’s important when building a team to make sure there’s a strong history of proficiency regarding technology in the agents you employ.
A potential agent may have strong phone skills, but if they struggle with online support it could be a concern. Also, make sure to take the time to train agents when new software releases occur. There are often new features that can save the company even more time and money. But it’s a lost opportunity if your agents don’t know how to use them.
4. Communicate the big picture.
It’s no secret that a support team can feel isolated from the rest of the organization. Make sure they understand how they impact the business’ bottom line. Tell them that their contributions are important. It’s also crucial to include support professionals in some relevant company meetings and information sessions. This may seem counter-intuitive, as sometimes agents are seen as inferior due to their job title. But remember, these are people who communicate with your customers on a regular basis.
For example, if a software company should inform agents that an update with a new feature is coming out next week – this enables them to respond better to customers by saying “that will be out next week” instead of “we don’t have that”. It also helps to make the support team feel included and as a result take pride in their role with the company.
In conclusion, creating a successful customer support team is all about properly developing agents to empower them to make the right decisions when assisting customers. Not only will these agents free up the time of other employees and customers, but positive customer interactions lead to increased customer satisfaction ratings, additional referral business, and so much more.
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