Success Center

Find tips and best practices for making awesome service your secret ingredient.

Motivate your small business customer service team for success.

In today’s uber-connected world, even small customer service issues can go viral. That’s why many small businesses are taking a step back to re-examine their own help desk support processes. Are they motivating and measuring their support teams in ways that incent better service? Or are they priming them for the next Internet customer service disaster sensation? Here are some tips from successful small businesses for ensuring that your customer service agents are helping — not hurting — your business:

Listen to customers throughout the lifecycle.

Every customer interaction is important, especially in today’s world where these interactions are heightened by social media. It’s critical that you listen to customers and understand what they are saying, instead of pushing a particular service call script or agenda. Taking this opportunity to have a conversation and offer a positive experience every step of the way increases loyalty among customers.

Some companies never close support tickets, so they always have a reminder to follow up with a customer and make sure they are happy. GiveForward, an online fundraising platform that has enabled thousands of people to raise millions of dollars for their loved ones in need, knows the importance of sticking with customers. “For us, talking to customers isn’t just about answering their questions. It’s also an opportunity to offer advice to make their fundraising more effective, which is more valuable to them than a 5 minute response time, and creates a lasting impression that will stick with them,” explains Erica Ahorn, Director of User Relations and Fundraising Coach. By working with customers throughout their entire experience, GiveForward maintains a high Net Promoter score and has an impact that’s really beyond measure.

Build a self-service knowledge base for more than just deflection.

These days practically every company has built an online knowledge base where customers can easily get answers to their support questions. For many small businesses, this is a cost-effective way of providing service that they eagerly push customers to. While some customers prefer to help themselves first before contacting an agent, others resort to the online knowledge base only as a last resort when they can’t get a real person on the phone. Whatever your customers’ preferences are, in today’s social, mobile world they still expect a high level of service however they reach you. Be sure to invest in help desk tools that give customers a high level of service, not just a cheap way to get them off of the phone.

Companies like Rdio and ZenPayroll have created beautiful online help sites which include content rating. By including ratings, you can see where customers want more information, continually work to improve that content, and strengthen your relationship. “Our online help center is a key part of our effort to make payroll delightful for customers,” says Steve Johnsen, Compliance and Support Lead.

Use support interactions to educate customers.

Customer service calls don’t just have to be about answering questions. Some companies take these interactions as opportunities to educate customers about their products or services. While deflecting future calls is certainly a positive outcome, that shouldn’t always be the end goal. It’s about helping customers have a deeper understanding and appreciation for your product, and a closer relationship that will translate to increased loyalty down the road.

For Asana, which makes tools to help businesses manage tasks and projects more productively, educating customers is a key goal. Like many companies, Asana aims to go above and beyond to make its customers happy. But educating customers and building a long-term relationship with them is also a top priority. According to Brian Boroff, Head of User Operations, “At Asana, our goal is to deliver customer service that more than just support — it’s a long term relationship that starts very early and goes on forever.”

Make customer satisfaction your #1 measurement.

Many companies are changing the way they look at measuring agent performance and moving from case closure to customer satisfaction as their primary metric. Instead of looking at how quickly you can get customers off of the phone, or how many calls you can process in a day, look at how you happy they are. Take a long-term perspective by measuring satisfaction after agent interactions and cases are closed, so you can get a better picture of how your service organization is helping your business over the long haul.

For One Kings Lane, an online marketplace with top-brand, designer, and vintage items, a luxury customer service experience is an important part of the package. Customers expect a white glove experience and Alexis Chapman, Director Customer Operations, wants to make sure that they get it. With one-of-a-kind and vintage items, it isn’t realistic that the company can effectively resolve an issue on the first call. “We don’t measure our team on whether they can close a case at first contact,” Chapman says. “We encourage our agents to talk to customers as long and as often as it takes to make them happy.”

Don’t let bad customer service tarnish your brand. Think about how are you measuring your support efforts to ensure success, and remember to make sure you motivate and measure your support team to drive customer happiness.


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