Is Ditching Phone Customer Support a Smart Decision?

There’s an old saying – “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” – that sometimes rings all too true for customer support teams. When prioritizing support inquiries, there’s a hierarchy of channels. Email sits at the bottom, with response times ranging into hours or even days. Chat is somewhere in the middle, with customers expecting a response in a few minutes. Phone support sits at the very top. It’s common for customers to call in and expect to speak with a real person right away. If they’re left on hold, it’s a frustrating experience that contributes to driving customers away from a business.

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5 Tips to Hire the Best Customer Support Staff

Customer service is arguably the most important role in any company's continuing success because customer support reps have the most regular, ongoing contact with your customers. They are the face of your company on a day to day basis.

When it comes to staffing your support desk, you want employees who are part technician, part psychologist, and 100% problem solver. Here are some characteristics to look for when hiring for your customer support team:

1. Sees customers as people rather than numbers
Customer service agents used to work in a “one and done” environment: Customers would call with an issue, a ticket would be assigned, the issue would be resolved (or not), the ticket would be closed, and the agent would move on to the next ticket.

Those days of transactional support are long gone. Today’s customers demand relational support. They want to speak to an agent who not only addresses their immediate issue but also understands their business. That’s why it’s important to hire a customer support staff that views customers as valuable relationships and who seek to understand them holistically—not just as a ticket to be crossed off the list.

teamcircle2. Collaborative approach

Today’s customers are more sophisticated—and they’re also busy. When they call with a problem, it’s often after they’ve tried to resolve it themselves and could not. By the time they contact the support team, they want the issue addressed as quickly, and as thoroughly, as possible. They won’t care that the agent is new or might not know the answer immediately. That’s why the most successful customer support agents collaborate with team members and not afraid to ask for help. They know that the best way to serve customers is by tapping into the collective wisdom of the group to solve issues and develop solutions. In doing so they will also increase their own knowledge exponentially.

3. Technology savvy

Today’s most successful customer support departments rely on collaborative customer service software to streamline their operations, enhance teamwork, integrate with other business tools for reporting and management purposes, and track and monitor trends and issues by products, customers and companies. Although today’s customer service software products are easy for any agent to learn and use, the best ones are still are sophisticated, and so you’ll want to hire agents who are comfortable integrating collaborative software into their daily practice.

4. Comfortable in a multi-channel support environment

The “call” center has given way to the “multi-channel customer support” center. Today’s customers request support using whatever method is most convenient to them: e-mail, chat, social media, and more. When hiring, seek out individuals who are comfortable delivering support in a multi-channel environment.

5. Understanding of customer impact on the bottom line

It’s easy for support representatives to mistakenly believe their job is, simply, to deal with tickets, one at a time. Yet every customer interaction has an impact on the company’s ultimate failure or success. Happy customers lead to more business. Dissatisfied customers lead to customer “churn” or attrition. From being mindful of the time it takes to close tickets, to running reports to monitor trends and issues, to proactively addressing customer issues, the ideal support agent has a keen understanding of how every interaction ultimately impacts the customer experience—and the company’s bottom line.

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