Building and Maintaining a Support Team
A healthy and well-oiled customer service support team is crucial to your user’s overall experience. CS representatives need to be gracious, knowledgeable, and willing to work as a unit to help out your audience. As with most things, building a customer support dream team has a distinct learning curve. In this article, we’re sharing some of our hard-earned tactics to help you assemble your band of customer service super heroes with ease.
What does a support team do?
What don’t they do? Seriously though. When we think of a customer support team, what comes to most of our minds is probably actually only the public-facing aspect of the department. We think of diligent support reps combing through customer profiles, patiently talking a waiting customer through some issue or other via their iconic headset. And while these social butterflies of the CS world deserve their posterchild status, they represent only the tip of the customer support iceberg.
Key roles which make up a support A-Team include:
- Customer support representatives. Whether remote or in-office, these team members field inquiries and other outreach from your audience.
- Customer support specialists. They do all of the above, and more. CS specialists often act as the intermediary between customer support reps and management. They are well-equipped to answer the more complex questions customers might ask.
- Multilingual customer support specialist. It’s professional customer support: in many different languages! Having multilingual CS reps on staff means you can help out your audience, no matter where they are in the world.
- Customer support engineers. These technical experts know your products inside and out, and can help customers troubleshoot problems from a break to issues with shipping and delivery.
- Customer support managers. The glue that holds the team together. CS managers are responsible for supervision of the rest of the team, as well as training new members. They know your brand, and will ensure that your customers know it too.
What makes a customer support team good or bad?
It’s easy to tell if your support team is thriving or flunking because their success or failure affects literally every other aspect of your business. But you can’t afford to just wait and see. By the time problems in customer support begin to show up in sales, your bottom line, etc., it may be too late.
Luckily, you can easily take a temperature reading on the quality of your customer support team with a couple simple tools.
- Data metrics. You can track the effectiveness of your support team by keeping tabs on a number of different data points. Are your customers returning after making inquiries? How many calls result in sales, returns, or lost customers? How big is your backlog of unresolved customer inquiries? What is the average resolution time? And so on. (Note: Gladly can help you put this data into context, with Gladly API.)
- Customer surveys. Honestly, what better way to check up on your team than to ask the customers? The bottom line of quality customer support is just that: do the customers feel supported? If the majority of your customer feedback is either negative or just kinda blah, something needs to be done. But if it’s positive, you’re on the right track.
So what makes a superstar support team? Here are some of the key qualities:
- Patience. Reps must be willing to help customers with compassion and kindness, regardless of the consumer’s mood or understanding of the issue at hand.
- Knowledge. Support managers need to know their stuff in order to pass it down to support specialists and representatives. And public-facing team members have to do their homework in order to give customers the best advice possible.
- Teamwork. When everyone has clarity and confidence in their role on your technical support team, the whole business thrives. Combined forces aimed at getting customers the help they need make your daily workflow, efficiently and smoothly.
Customer service support team dos and don’ts.
Here are some basic points to follow when building and maintaining your customer support team.
Support Team Dos
- Hire the right attitude. You can teach all the skills they need, provide them with a script, set them up with a database filled with everything they need to know about your company and its products. What you can’t teach are soft skills such as empathy, patience, and a sincere desire to help out your customers. One rep with a positive attitude is worth ten without.
- Nurture their natural expertise. We keep crowing about reps passing customers over to subject matter experts when they don’t have the answer. Make sure they have someone to pass them to! Ask your reps what special interests they have which are relevant to your company and products, and encourage them to become experts in that field.
- Strike a balance between teaching and facilitating learning. Of course you need to show your new hires around. But you should also provide them with ample opportunities to have independent learning experiences. Too much teaching can lead to a scripted experience for your customers. But if you allow your rep’s natural abilities and passion to come through, it can create a truly personal conversation.
Support Team Don’ts
- Isolate. Interdepartmental communication can be critical to efficient resolution of customer inquiries. If there’s an issue with shipping, marketing, production, etc., having open lines of communication between these departments and customer support can help you notify customers and resolve an issue before your audience catches it.
- Ignore customer feedback. Even if you think your team is at peak performance, it is still important to hear your customer’s complaints. There is always room for improvement, growth, and continued learning.
- Stagnate. As technology, the consumer market, and the world at large change, so too should customer support. Make sure that your team is keeping up with the times through continued education, updated CS policies, and a flexible script.
loOutro: How Gladly can Help
We said before you can’t teach empathy. We lied. Check out our other article: Empathy Exercises for Customer Service to see how to teach your CS reps to walk a mile in customer’s shoes.