Taking the right customer service management measures is imperative for any service oriented business hoping to generate happy, returning clients. Most enterprises today understand that offering excellent customer service is crucial and can make or break a brand. But how does one become customer centric and ensure quality service while staying efficient?
In this article we will go over the 3 main elements for improving customer service quality and the right customer service management tools to help retain a high level of service. For the sake of simplicity we will focus the discussion on what are common best practices for customer service management in call centers.
1. Measuring the right metrics
Knowing what to measure and why will help you both set the right goals for your employees and find where your weaknesses lie. To develop the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) first, try to think about the main gripes ailing your clients and where they originate from. Next, try to think what resources are used to handle these issues.
In a call center environment the main resource used is agent time and clients will often complain about one of 3 things: Wait times, speed and success in resolving issues and overall rapport with representatives. With this in mind we can fashion 3 crude KPIs (you can farther break these down to gain more insights if necessary):
• Average Handling Time (AHT) – This is a measure of how much time a representative usually spends with a client on the phone in order to resolve an issue. Measuring this will help you understand how efficient an operation you are running and how quickly you are serving your clients. While long calls may be due to your representatives giving clients adequate attention and being helpful, it could also indicate your agents are inept in resolving cases and require repeated calls and escalations in order to resolve an issue. This is why it is generally customary to combine AHT with another KPI named FCR.
• First Call Resolution (FCR) – FCR is the percentage of issues that were resolved within the first call with an agent and without needing any further calls or escalating the issue. This is a great measure of both customer satisfaction and the capabilities of your agents. Obviously the higher this ratio is, the better.
• Reported Customer Satisfaction – If you don’t know something, just ask. The best way to understand if your clients are liking your service is to ask them for feedback. It’s the only way you can know if your agents are making clients feel valued or insignificant. A lot of large enterprises, such as Google and Amazon, conduct regular automated surveys after each call to understand how clients perceive their service and know if they need to improve their customer service management procedures.
Once you’ve measured the right KPIs you can go on to improving them
2. Building the right training programs
Smart training is key to improving your customer service management metrics. Well trained agents will spend less time on calls, be able to answer issues more efficiently and are less likely to become irritable or awe struck when handling your client’s issues.
When training employees it’s important not to focus only the job function (i.e. the functional elements of your work or, in our case, answering calls) but also on the job essence (i.e. understanding why you’re doing the job and being driven to do that or, in our case creating happy, retained clients). Gamification is a great tool for both.
Gamifying aspects of your company’s onboarding process can help employees better retain information and motivate the mastery of new skills. Entries into the company knowledge base and answering quizzes, for example, can be rewarded by badges and points (with the aim of achieving a certain threshold) while team competitions can be a great tool for motivating employees to share information and disseminate knowledge.
While a little more complicated, training in job essence can also be gamified. “Karma” points for example can be used in recognition of exceptional service or for displaying the right attitude towards clients. Rewarding high levels of reported customer satisfaction can motivate employees to show empathy, patience and convey a sense of urgency in resolving a client case.
Training should never be a one-time thing. Employees need to constantly strive to improve and retain knowledge. Segmenting your employees and creating goals and targets that frequently adjust to fit their level and personality will help employees feel they are mastering their trade and will keep them engaged in learning your products and guidelines.
Read here to see how Microsoft drove agents to improve their performance and learning using gamification platform, and boosted the Consumer Support Services.
3. Keeping your employees committed and engaged
If your customer service reps feels their daily work is repetitive and fruitless, their engagement levels will drop and so will the service they provide. If employees will not have goals to aspire to or roadmaps for achieving those goals, their interaction with your clients will be transactional at best and the retention of both clients and employees is likely to be low.
Here too, gamification can have tremendous results. Unlike the common HR approach of periodical employee reviews, gamification allows management to constantly monitor employee performance and provides workers with an easy to understand visualization of where they stand and how they can improve. This is a form of real-time feedback – like a fitness tracker for work.
Putting these elements and tools in place your employees are likely to stay on board longer, provide better service to your clients and be more efficient in their work. While the ROI from training and monitoring programs will not always be quickly discernable, in the long run you are likely to see improvement across the board in all your customer service management metrics.
For more information on best practices for customer service management and gamifying customer service, you can download our free whitepaper here.