Empowering Your Customer Support Team

December 15, 2021
Jordan O'dell-Fontana
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Think about the last great experience you had when purchasing a product from an online business. If you're anything like 72% of customers, you're probably thinking about the service and support you received. Whether the website chatbot that seemed to know the answer to your every question or the immediate full refund you received when your package got lost in the mail, customer service and support is what defines our online purchasing experience and can stick in our heads for years to come. So why is customer support so often overlooked?

Too often, managers have a "set it and forget it" attitude when it comes to customer support. Customer support agents are expected to respond to repetitive tickets with outdated technologies, leading to work piling up and a growing sense of overwhelm. The pandemic only expedited this process, sending more people than ever online, meaning more tickets than ever.

Now is the time for customer support teams to shine. By investing in them, you're giving them the best chance to create memorable experiences.

We've compiled a list of our top tips for empowering your customer support team, ranging from the basics that are too commonly overlooked to CS optimisation and technology implementation.

The Basics

While some of these tips may not be earth-shattering, customer support teams, in a range of industries, are still not implementing them.  These suggestions will help you build a strong foundation for creating a superior customer support team.  

Establish an agent training program

When looking to improve your customer service, the best thing you can do is invest in your team. This can include training on using CS technologies, dealing with difficult customers, or even understanding phone/chat etiquette. With 31% of consumers considering a knowledgeable agent to be the most crucial factor in a positive customer experience, it's a worthwhile investment.

However, many businesses are still not investing in agent training, with only 57% of underperforming businesses (compared to 88% of high performers investing in training). This has downstream effects on the work agents produce. In fact, most customer service reps don't plan on staying in their job forever, citing poor growth opportunities. With a job outlook that lacks room for growth, it de-incentivises customer service agents to improve their own performance and put their best foot forward for the company.  

Automate your support team's operations

One way top-performing service teams differ from other companies is the number of tickets each member of their team is responsible for. Zendesk's Benchmark Guide for Enterprise found that top-performing service teams have almost double the ticket-to-agent ratio of other companies. An alternative to hiring more staff is to improve your team's efficiency by using proactive and self-service support technologies and strategies to reduce the number of incoming tickets.

While it's important for your business to be accessible to customers across a range of channels (such as email, phone, chatbot, and social media), you also want to ensure your team has the proper tools in place to handle enquiries from a variety of sources.  This way, agents can manage, route, and resolve requests through a single system without having to learn and navigate multiple platforms.

Technologies that drive customer support performance

There are technologies available to help streamline the customer support process and reduce the overall amount of tickets your customer support team needs to handle.

Reduce repetitive requests through self-service support

The best thing businesses can do to improve their customer support is to implement and improve their self-service offerings. Because a large number of support requests are simple and repetitive, they could easily be answered by a bot or even by the customer themselves. Studies have shown that customer service agents find 40% of customer tickets "mind-numbing and repetitive", and up to 80% of tickets could be resolved by a chatbot. By alleviating your agents from routine enquiries, they have more time to deal with complex issues and more opportunities to develop their skills, delivering 72% more value to your company.  

Apart from chatbots, knowledge bases offer another option for self-serve support. Knowledge bases are intuitive libraries of information that answer frequently asked questions, so customers can resolve issues on their own, without the hassle of contacting someone else. Knowledge bases are becoming an increasingly popular tool, with 66% of customer service teams, and 82% of customers using them. With 81% of all consumers preferring to work out an issue on their own, self-serve support is essential to any business.

Improve efficiency through streamlined processes

A common issue customer service agents face is the multitude of systems and programs they have to keep track of to do their job. Information such as a customer's purchasing history, up-to-date shipment tracking, and product details are often kept in disparate systems, meaning support agents are constantly switching between programs in search of information. In fact, agents spend nearly 20% of their time looking for the information they need to solve the problem or share directly with the customer.

This is where technology such as help desks come in. Help desks consolidate customer service requests into a singular platform, allowing your customer support team to tactically and systematically address them. Help desks also have the potential to create customer profiles, so that when a customer contacts the support team, all their information is readily available. By utilising this technology, customer support agents can use that crucial 20% of their time on other tasks rather than scrambling for information.

Optimising your customer support practices

You've done the basics and implemented all the right technologies.  Now, it's time to maximise your customer support for the highest quality and efficiency.

Gather insights from reporting and metrics

CX Analytics is an essential tool for all customer service teams.  When your goal is to optimise, you want to start by looking at your stats. Tracking metrics such as resolution and response times can help you gauge how well your team is improving.  Reporting and metrics also give agents the chance to reflect and review their performance to spot potential pain points in areas they may not have even realised needed improvement.

However, only around half of customer support agents believe they have adequate reporting and measuring tools on hand, with a further 40% neutral on the topic. This shows a concerning lack of opportunity for support agents' skill development.

Use personalisation to build customer loyalty

One of the trends that became apparent in 2021 is that customers require personalisation. With 80% of customers more likely to do business with a company that offers a personal experience, your online conversion rate can increase by up to 8% when you personalise the customer experience. With agents only asking for a customer's name 21% of the time on average, most agents miss this important step to providing a personal experience.

By implementing standards and processes that include simple personalisation tactics, such as using the customer's name or communicating with a friendly tone, the quality of the customer's experience will improve, and the sales will follow. In fact, 73% of customers say they're loyal to brands because of friendly customer service agents.

Getting started with empowering your CS team

By now, you may have picked up a trick or two on how to help your customer support team improve, whether through basic training, industry-standard technologies, or reporting to optimise their work. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed on where to start, check out some of our other blogs to learn more about customer experience.

Or, if you're ready to get started, tap the chat icon below to get in touch with us and see how we can help you empower your CS team.

Ready to take your customer experience to the next level?