How to Train Your Customer Support Agents to Provide Better Service

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Customers can shop, but they’re not immune to the allure of good customer service. This leaves them wide open for wooing, but nailing the holistic customer experience cannot happen without the help of your employees.

Your employees will likely be the first people-centric point of contact for customers. Even if a sale takes place online, customers may need help. Some buyers are ok with chatbots or are finding answers on their own. Others, however, want a bit of a grip. And when they get it, their likelihood of coming back improves.

This includes frustrated customers who threaten to leave. Clients give their loyalty to brands that respond because they appreciate being recognized. That alone shows only a fraction of the power (and profitability) of putting customer service first.

Related: 3 ways to deal with an upset customer that makes them more loyal to your brand

Getting your employees to do the right thing every day requires strategic planning. Below are some considerations to keep in mind when teaching employees how to wow buyers.

Coach employees at the individual level.

It may seem more cost effective and faster to train your employees with a large brush. However, going deeper into coaching them as individuals can achieve better results.

Etsy used to track customer experience data, but even though the data looked positive, the company didn’t see much change in customer ratings. After working with MaestroQA to generate quality assurance insights, Etsy improved agent performance at the micro level. This in turn reduced Etsy’s multi-group resolution rate by two-thirds and increased the performance of quality assurance agents by 14%.

Improving the capabilities of each member of the support team takes more effort than just training everyone en masse. Still, seeing each employee as unique can help identify gaps in customer support that you might have overlooked. You can start by finding an automated system that allows you to collect and evaluate data about each employee.

Take your call center staff, for example. The average processing time for your team of 10 people can be two minutes each. Not bad is not it ? But after you dig, you realize that a rep takes five minutes per call. The others spend about a minute and a half each. Knowing this, you can individually help the representative in difficulty. Over time, this type of personalized training should have a serious impact on the overall efficiency of your call center workflow.

Related: 4 big benefits of better employee training

Empower employees to make decisions.

It is very difficult for employees to make a difference to customers if they always have to come back to their managers. And no consumer wants to deal with 10 different representatives to get an answer. The workaround for this problem? Give more authority to your workers.

To be sure, you may need to make some organizational changes first. McKinsey research shows that without a well-understood branding strategy, employee empowerment doesn’t work. The same goes for insuring your people know their places and settings.

One caveat: sometimes you will need to allow employees to fail. Not all workers will make the same decisions as you. Be patient and turn glitches into coachable moments. Over time, empowerment will feel more organic throughout your business. Better yet, your employees will start to think more like owners and less like salaried employees.

What’s the easiest way to grow into a more empowered workforce? Create a centralized document that describes what workers are allowed to do. For example, you can allow employees to give discounts of up to 30% on goods of a certain value. Likewise, you may prefer to allow workers not only to waive charges, but to offer additional credit on unhappy customer accounts. Having everything written down avoids confusion and lessens your worry about the possibility of overspending.

Help employees understand the kind of customer experience you want.

It’s good to say that you want your customers to have enhanced experiences. What do you mean, however? Without defining your ideal customer service model, you can’t hope to help your employees achieve it.

For example, you may decide that all inbound customer issues should be resolved within five minutes with no variation. In this case, you’ll want to make sure your employees know about this setting. At the same time, they will need the tools to make it happen.

A good way to solidify what you want in terms of customer experience is to turn employees into customers. Have them place an order, receive merchandise, call with questions, or submit a return. Workers will have a much better understanding of what customers are going through. At the same time, they could let you know about any issues along the way. With the information you and them collect, you can narrow down previously unnoticed service issues.

Related: How to improve your results by embracing the customer experience

Make customer service a central part of your integration.

Even if your support team members only work part-time, emphasize the importance of customer service in your onboarding.

When employees are introduced to customer orientation from day one, they take it seriously. Don’t just talk about the customer experience with the people in your call center, either. Integrate customer service elements throughout your integration for a better result.

Zapier notes that when your onboarding includes angles of customer obsession, you get another benefit: less employee churn. And the longer employees stay, the more they can contribute to your customer-centric culture.

How do you know if your integration emphasizes service? First, carefully review all training for new employees. Look for opportunities to add customer service elements to the curriculum and note where it currently exists. Are there any missing items in these early workshops? When in doubt, remember that it is better for you to include more service-related scenarios and role-plays than to have too few. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And people won’t be inclined to practice without a formal boost.

Joseph P. Harris