ANNOUNCEMENTS

6 Principles that Make a Great Customer Service Team7 min read

April 12, 2019
Oliver Ginsburg

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6 Principles that Make a Great Customer Service Team7 min read

There’s no two ways about it: if you deliver poor customer service, you will lose money.

According to a recent report, over half of consumers will move to a competitor within one day of receiving poor customer service.

Delivering average customer service might stop you from losing your customers, but great customer service will do much more than that.

It will create customers who are loyal for life. #BFF4EVA

It will build trust amongst your customers so they come to you with ideas that’ll improve your product.

It will turn your customers into brand advocates, who do more to sell your product than you ever could yourself.

This year, our customer support team (who you may know better as your ‘Chief Operators’) won a Silver Stevie Award for Customer Service Team of the Year-Frontline.

So we thought we’d share with you some of the things that make our customer support team so special.

But first…

What is good customer service?

Good customer service is about providing an exceptional customer experience. More than simply dealing with problems that arise in a friendly and timely way, that means proactively finding ways to make a customer’s interactions with your product more delightful.

The way I see it, working in customer service is kind of like working in the postal service. There is always going to be a constant flow of mail coming in that needs to be collected, sorted, and delivered, but you also have to find time for other tasks like stocking shelves in the store, or considering new products and offers.

That means you need to handle all the reactive tasks really efficiently, know what you want to do proactively, and build out time to work on those proactive tasks.

These three steps will help you build a great customer service team:

  1. Focus on quality first: make sure every interaction you have provides an exceptional experience for the customer.  
  2. Build these quality interactions into something replicable, so you can efficiently handle the quantity of requests.
  3. Once you’ve got a strong handle on your incoming queries, you can find ways to go from reactive to proactive.

Best practices of an award-winning customer support team

The world needs more good customer support; over 62% of companies don’t even respond to customer service emails!

So I’m pulling the curtain back to show exactly what makes our customer support team so great.  

Here are 6 best practices we use that can be useful for any customer support team.

1. A unified tone of voice

The first thing every customer support team needs is a clear style guide to reference. Customers should feel a consistent tone in all their interactions with your company.

At AND CO, we encourage support staff to engage in small talk with customers. Not only does this disarm them (especially if they’re coming to you with a problem), it conveys empathy and humanness, helping you to build relationships of trust. And the best part is you get to learn about someone’s life!

2. Really listen

When we engage in small talk with our customers, it’s not just because that’s part of our style guide. One of the things that makes our team special is that we’re actually listening.

People know we listen—it’s become our reputation amongst our members. And if people feel heard, they’ll trust you enough to give you good ideas about how you can improve your product.

Our members know that we keep track of feature requests, because we follow up with them when their request is implemented (even if it’s been a year since they brought it up!). This helps our members to feel involved in the narrative of AND CO, since they’re shaping the product as much as anyone.

Every now and then we even turn the information we gain through our chats with customers into ‘random acts of kindness’ for our members, elevating our virtual interactions into the physical world via snail mail.

In essence, an unintended byproduct of showing you’re listening is that you end up tailoring how your community treats you back. Our members almost do our work for us by providing great product update ideas, and singing our praises to other potential customers. Thanks fam!

3. Meticulous tracking

If you’re not meticulously tracking and categorizing every customer service conversation, you’re letting valuable data fall through the cracks. Our team creates a historical record of each conversation, which gives us a clear understanding and overview of what people are talking about, when, and why. It helps us easily see any common issues and gives us some insight into what we might be able to do about them.  

As well as that, it self-trains our COs to think about how to quantify conversations—which are generally thought of as inherently qualitative. Now, our CO’s can look at a message and immediately they have tracked it in their head, they know what the appropriate response should be, and they’ve mentally moved onto the next thing.

4. Fast response times

The average response time to handle a customer service request is 12 hours and 10 minutes. It goes without saying that customers want a response to their queries much faster than that. In our team, we’re laser-focused on responding to our customers fast and providing solutions as quick as we can.

And we do this with a much smaller team than many other companies with a user-base our size. Where other similar companies have 20 or more people on their customer support teams, our team is made up of just 4 people. Yep! With our humble team of 4, we manage to cover 200,000 members, 18-hours a day, with great response times, ratings and reviews.

One of the reasons we’re able to do this is the tracking system I already mentioned. Another is our carefully curated and updated self-service feature.

5. A self-service feature

Every good customer service team should have a constantly-evolving and robust ‘frequently asked questions’ or tutorial section that helps customers with common queries. As you scale, you start to see patterns in the questions you’re asked, and you want to be able to direct people somewhere where they can find an in-depth answer.

If you make your self-service feature easy-to-find and easily searchable, you can even reduce the number of queries that come in in the first place.

Plus, the time you save on re-explaining the same functions can be put into ensuring the other aspects of your customer service team—like fast response times and proactivity—are up to scratch.

6. Proactivity

Being proactive in customer service means resolving issues before they become problems, and finding extra ways to make customers feel valued and cared-for.

The problem is, most customer service teams don’t get to the point where they can be proactive, because they’re so bogged down with being reactive.

By creating the right procedures and habits, even a small team can carve out bandwidth everyday for the little things that make all the difference—like writing handwritten letters or responding to praise on Twitter.

We also use our proactive moments to reach out when we see something that might mean a user is struggling. For example, if they experienced a failed payment, we personally contact them to ask if they need help and suggest solutions (and of course we track how many members go on to convert after this interaction).

Good customer service is always evolving

Finding the perfect mix of guidelines for your customer service team takes time, and there’s always more that can be done. For that reason, an excellent customer service team will be constantly evolving, forever tracking their progress and looking for ways to improve.

Oliver Ginsburg

Oliver is Head of Support for the award-winning AND CO Customer Service Team.

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