How to Revitalize Your Customer Support Culture
A customer support culture is a delicate thing. One day morale can be great after an awesome company meeting or event, the next day it can be low when a mistake leads to a high volume of support tickets. Too many low days in a row can lead to a culture that’s headed in the wrong direction. But how can you revitalize your customer support culture to keep it fresh and make agents feel valued so they put their best foot forward with customers? Here are a few ways…
Rely less on outsourcing your support solution – This may not always be possible, but for many companies it can be. Outsourcing may make sense financially, but it often creates two main issues. First, it can start and fuel an “us vs. them” battle within your company between in-house and outsourced agents. Second, outsourcing can damage the support culture of a company due a lack of agent knowledge. Simply put, it’s not uncommon for an outsourced agent to support multiple companies in the same week. They don’t know your company, what it stands for, or its history. This isn’t a strong first line of defense in customer support and it can lead to resentment against outsourced agents for creating issues by being unknowledgeable
Change your support software to make life easier for agents – Sometimes morale can take a hit because accomplishing even simple customer support tasks is difficult and time consuming. Take an informal poll of your agents from time to time so you can understand their current issues. From here, evaluate your support software solution (if you have one) to make sure it’s meeting their needs. Maybe you need to choose a different customer support software or upgrade your solution to get new features, but making a change here can really help to make employees feel as if their opinion matters. It also makes their life easier because they can work more efficiently.
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Empower agents to prevent bad customer support at all costs – Bad support experiences can spread like wildfire in the social media era where everyone has a voice. You truly never know who is on the other end of the phone or chat conversation. Giving agents the power to resolve and escalate issues as needed is extremely important to the culture of a customer support team. Agents shouldn’t feel like they are alone with limited resources when working with customers, and honestly it’s worth it long-term to spend a little extra to resolve an issue before it becomes a bigger problem. Even better, make sure to note difficult customers in your customer support software so senior agents can work with them. On the positive side, you can also make notes to be more forgiving with long-term customers who haven’t caused issues in the past.
Offer lucrative incentives for agents who stick around – Success and stability are infectious (in a good way) and can be very refreshing for a culture to have. Customer support is generally perceived as an industry with high employee turnover, making long-term agents valuable because they not only know your strengths but also the weaknesses of your competitors. This knowledge and experience is especially important in B2B (business-to-business) as it can enable them to position your company in a better light against the opposition. Pay increases and vacation time obviously work well, but more modern incentives such as flexible work hours and the ability to home office are becoming more popular. The statement “good people make a good culture” is more important now than ever before.
In short, there are several ways to go about revitalizing your customer support culture. Unifying your agents, empowering them, and giving them the freedom to do their job once they’ve proven their capabilities are all important to creating a corporate culture people want to stay in. Supplying agents with the right software and technology to assist customers increases long-term happiness because agent productivity and confidence will only continue to improve. Agents are the front-line of your company – the people your customers call when there’s an issue – and their sole concern should be the needs of the customer.