Being a customer service manager is a delicate balancing act! First and foremost, you must make sure that the needs of your customers are being met and that you’re delivering excellent customer service at all touchpoints.
In addition, you might also be managing a team of customer service representatives internally, providing training and mentoring while making sure you stay on top of all the latest customer service trends and technologies. It’s definitely not a job for those without ambition!
In 2021, customer service is set to take centre stage, as 90% of CEOs believe that customers have the greatest impact on their business and 64% of companies with a customer-focused CEO believe they are more profitable than their competitors.
It is clear that customer experience is increasingly a key factor in business, and the role of customer service leaders is becoming more and more important – and multi-faceted – as we move into the new decade.
Understandably, doing the job of a customer service manager requires a lot of finesse and know-how!
The Challenge of Customer Service Management
Customer service managers face a number of challenges in today’s workplace. Firstly, there’s the obvious, that’s delivering effective customer service. This is the cornerstone of the role, as a solid customer service strategy boosts a company’s reputation in the market and is instrumental in helping to drive new and repeat business.
But look a bit closer and you’ll see a lot of work going on behind the scenes to plan processes that make customer support run smoothly; this is truly where customer service managers shine.
From training customer service teams to devising and implementing more efficient ways of managing customer tickets, customer service managers definitely have their work cut out for them.
Researching new customer trends and channels and incorporating these into the overall customer service strategy is key as well. In addition, customer service managers must also be aware of new software and tools available that can increase call centre efficiency and decrease overheads.
The role of a customer service manager is one that requires business acumen, strategic thinking and juggling lots of balls in the air at once!
Omnichannel Customer Service
Gone are the days when reaching a customer service representative meant picking up the phone. While the phone still remains the most popular method of contacting customer support, today’s customer service landscape is omnichannel, meaning there are a number of ways in which customers can reach an agent or an automated service for help.
Common customer service channels include social media, online forms, customer portals (which are typically geared for self-service), messenger apps, and online/live chat support (which can be powered by artificial intelligence).
The emergence of these multiple channels means that customer service managers must develop and maintain streamlined control to ensure the smooth running of customer support through all of these channels, making sure that nothing is missed, and that efficiency is maximized.
It’s certainly a big ask, but ambitious customer service managers know that employing a few best-practice solutions can go a long way towards ensuring the success of their entire customer service operation across all channels.
9 Tips for Customer Service Managers in 2021
Here are our top tips that customer service managers can take on board to improve their company’s customer service offering in 2021.
1. Take a Proactive Approach
First and foremost, you’ll want to start by auditing your current customer service processes to see where you can make improvements.
You can do so by locating your customer service process documents and matching them up against the systems in place. You’ll want to evaluate items including:
- Whether your processes are truly reflective of the customer service being offered by your team.
- Whether you’ve correctly identified your customer service pain points so that they can be addressed appropriately.
- Whether the customer service technologies you’re employing are the right ones needed for your business and its customer service issues.
- Whether there are any untapped applications of your customer service technology — are you making the most of the software available to you – or is there another product on the market that might help you be more efficient?
Next, you’ll want to look at the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you’ve set for your department and determine whether they are achievable, or whether it’s time to set new goals.
By honestly reviewing your processes and standing KPIs, you’ll be able to understand the weak points of your customer service and which areas require improvement.
2. Seize Control of Your Social Media
Social media usage is abundant and ever-present! In fact, research shows that 54% of customers prefer social media for customer service over phone or email.
Your customer service should already include social media support, particularly given that churn rates can increase by 15% when companies don’t respond on social media.
So, it’s important that your company has all social media covered by offering support across a number of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
The process for dealing with enquiries via social media also needs to be streamlined for customer service to remain efficient. In addition to reviewing existing systems in place, you may also wish to look at social media customer service software and helpdesk tools available on the market.
These can be a massive help when it comes to streamlining your approach to social customer service by offering sentiment trackers, scheduling options, sentiment analysis and helpdesk ticketing automation. All of these can save precious time and ensure that your teams are empowered with support that lets them do the job of helping customers as easily as possible.
3. Enable Fluidity Between Channels
As touched on above, customer service today is omnichannel, meaning it’s made up of various channels that all come together into one helpdesk solution.
For example, customers might reach out to your company for help via email, phone, social media, or automated chat.
It’s important that all these different channels are processed efficiently and that they all go through a centralized process. By integrating and sharing information across channels, your customer service team will be able to build a better picture of each customer and this will enable them to provide more tailored customer support to every customer.
The latest customer service software tools on the market can be helpful here as well. They offer fantastic solutions that give customer service representatives the right tools at their fingertips to direct customers through a seamless chain to offer better assistance.
2021 may be the year you want to evaluate some of the tools available to see which might be able to help you centralize your customer support and create a more seamless solution across channels.
This will benefit your business in the long run, as 80% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides a personalized experience.
4. Shine a Light on Customer Self-Service
In addition to the customer service channels discussed above, one important (yet often overlooked) channel is customer self-service.
In most cases, customer self-service is offered in the form of a portal on your website where customers can find the answers to their questions or get troubleshooting information to solve their own problems. It can include a ticket area, a knowledge base, and a community forum so that customers don’t always have to depend on your team to find all the solutions they need.
This can be helpful in cutting down on the volume of enquiries your customer service team receives while allowing customers to easily solve their own problems quickly.
Customer self-service can also be viewed as another form of support that you can provide to your customers. It doesn’t take the place of other support, such as contact with a live customer service representative, but does help enhance it.
It can help take the pressure off your team so that their time can be maximized helping those who have more complex issues that cannot be solved through a self-service portal.
5. Offer Live Chat
Live chat is another form of customer service that will continue to boom in the coming years. According to recent research, 47% of organisations are expected to implement chatbots for customer support services in 2021.
Live chat is a great way for customers to receive help with their issues in real-time, simply by visiting your website. A chatbot is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and is programmed to be able to respond with answers to frequently asked questions, similarly to an FAQ.
Not unlike other forms of customer self-service, chatbots can help customers quickly find answers to common issues in a matter of seconds. Live chat isn’t always AI-powered, however. Sometimes it’s also manned by live customer service representatives who are online and helping resolve tickets in real-time.
Live people can obviously handle more complex issues than chatbots, so it may be beneficial to your business to employ live reps where possible and implement chatbots outside of business hours, where they can automatically create helpdesk tickets if they can’t solve a customer’s problem using their limited capabilities.
AI technology is constantly evolving and there are powerful chatbot technologies on the market today that can go a long way towards resolving your customers’ issues while also sending the message that your business is ‘always open’ for support.
6. Consider Automated Surveys
Customer surveys can be a powerful way to ensure that your customers are having their needs met by your customer service team. They can also identify areas where you can offer your team additional training to improve satisfaction.
Customer surveys should be implemented in an unbiased way, for example, once the customer’s issue has been resolved and put to rest, asking questions using neutral language.
Surveys allow customers voices to be heard, so not only will your customers feel that they are being listened to, but you’ll also get unbiased feedback on the issues that are critical to your business.
Automating surveys means that you’ll gather a large pool of data from which you can make more informed decisions around how to improve or reward your team.
7. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Product Knowledge
In order to provide excellent customer service, you need the right foundation to start from, and that means knowing your product inside out. After all, how do you expect your team of customer service representatives to be able to provide solutions to problems if they don’t fully understand the products themselves?
It can reflect badly on your company if its representatives don’t understand the product and aren’t able to provide helpful advice. On the flip side, customers respond very positively to representatives who understand the product well and can provide useful information and insights into solving problems.
To scale up your product knowledge base across teams, you may consider having your teams try the product out themselves. Hands-on experience can be invaluable, as when people experience the product, they can gain a deeper understanding of it on a practical level.
But if that’s not possible, resources such as online forums, customer feedback, internal sales records, and competitor information can be very useful as well in understanding your product.
8. Step Up Your Hiring Agenda
The best internal ambassadors within a company are those who have a passion for its culture and products. Of course, we all want to hire the best customer service representatives for our business, and qualified professionals make the top of the CV pile!
Yet, when looking at qualifications on CVs, don’t underestimate the importance of a person’s true passion for both your company and customer service as a whole.
Someone can always be trained on procedures and software, but it’s much harder to train an employee to be passionate.
If you find a candidate with both passion for customer service as well as for your company, it’s worth giving them a serious look, even if they don’t have as much previous experience. If they are passionate about customer service, it’s likely that they’ll become a valued team member.
9. Incentivize Your Team Members
In the customer service industry, we often say that customers are your company’s best advocates, but it’s also important to remember that employees are too!
Happy, motivated employees are more likely to not only perform well but are also more likely to speak positively about your company or brand to their friends and family.
In addition to providing competitive salaries and benefits, you can also look to incentivize employees. Incentives such as gift cards or cash bonuses for exceptional performance can be very motivating and give employees something positive to work towards.
You can also offer other incentives that are less obvious. For example, additional holiday days offered on a performance basis can provide strong motivation for employees to go above and beyond.
Regardless of whether you choose to set incentives, remember that at the very least, you should make sure to show recognition of superior performance and excellence on the job.
Simply rewarding employees with appreciation and encouraging words and lets them know that they are valued and appreciated. And that can go a long way towards building a healthy, productive, and happy customer service team.
Although it carries a lot of responsibility, being a customer service manager is a dynamic and rewarding career. With 2021 still in its beginning stages, there’s no time like the present to take control and revamp your customer service strategy. In offering these helpful guidelines, we hope it becomes your most successful year yet.