It’s no secret that providing exceptional customer experiences is both a competitive advantage and a proven driver of long-term growth. Still, while many of us recognize the importance of great customer service, we face an overwhelming number of processes, tools, and strategies that ultimately impact the customer experience.
So, what’s the most efficient and effective way to improve service? The answer lies with those who interact with customers on a daily basis—the customer service representative.
There are nearly 3 million customer service representative employees in the U.S. alone. Whether a customer interacts through voice, chat, video, or even social media, their experience is largely determined by one of the millions of reps on the other end.
When reps feel valued by their company, they’re more motivated to go the extra mile for customers and engage with their role. That level of optimal engagement starts with customer service enablement.
The benefits of enablement
There’s a direct correlation between rep engagement and performance. In fact, a study by Gallup found that highly engaged teams achieve, on average, a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales. Teams with high levels of enablement also see:
- Increased productivity
- Lower turnover
- Lower operational costs
- Improved service levels
When reps feel valued by their company, they're more motivated to go the extra mile for customers and engage with their role.
Despite these benefits, many companies still fall short in rep enablement. Author and founder of Toister Performance Solutions, Jeff Toister, said it best, “Empowering customer service employees really means enabling them to provide outstanding service.”
The good news? There are plenty of tangible steps you can take with your people, processes, and technology to create an enabled team.
1. Transform training
As customer needs and preferences continue to evolve, training has also become even more important. At a time when customers value correct answers, fast resolutions, and effortless interactions, it’s critical that we equip reps with the skills they need to meet—and exceed—customer expectations. This means going beyond the traditional training playbook to deliver ongoing training and practice.
Luckily, many organizations are starting to see the full benefit of training as 72 percent of companies plan to improve their training in the next year. This is also the perfect time to make sure that reps receive training that prepares them to work across a number of different channels. When we asked our customers at Lessonly how many service channels they offer, 90 percent have more than doubled their offerings in the last five years. To adapt, we need to give reps consistent training that prepares them to tailor conversations, navigate different systems, and feel confident supporting customers via any channel.
At a time when customers value correct answers, fast resolutions, and effortless interactions, it's critical that we equip reps with the skills they need to meet—and exceed—customer expectations.
2. Equip everyone
While skill-based training is vital to rep success, they also need knowledge around their company’s processes, products, and services. Today’s speed of business means that we should provide support around these initiatives on an ongoing basis.
And while it’s a great start to give reps access to key pieces of customer information, it’s just as important to make sure they always have access to what they need to do their jobs well. Employees tend to forget 90 percent of what they learn within one week, so it’s beneficial to use a central, searchable hub for relevant and accurate information. Gone are the days when the average worker spent nearly 20 percent of their work week looking for internal info. Reps deserve instant access to the answers they need during customer interactions. Excellent knowledge management paired with thoughtful training creates high-performing reps who support customers with knowledge and tact.
3. Measure what matters
In the end, customer service enablement is about delivering results, which is why leaders need to identify clear metrics and KPIs. While there’s no doubt that data is valuable, many companies still focus on operational metrics and KPIs that don’t really measure team and rep performance.
While there's no doubt that data is valuable, many companies still focus on operational metrics and KPIs that don't really measure team and rep performance.
Since the customer experience is built for change, we should also change how we track and define success. Instead of prioritizing operational KPIs, it’s best to focus on data that indicates great service that puts the customer first. We’ve seen that the best service teams look at a healthy mix of qualitative and quantitative metrics. This makes it easy to see how reps are performing across every service channel and help leaders identify areas for improved enablement.
Start down the path to empowerment
World-class organizations have enablement plans that equip reps with the confidence and readiness they need to deliver better outcomes. A thoughtfully designed plan starts with strategy and ownership, which is why we suggest starting with these three items:
- Goals: What do you want to accomplish with your enablement plan? What metrics or business outcomes match these goals?
- Themes: What are the primary things your reps need to know to be great at their job? Outline key information around products, company policies, and how to use their tech stack.
- Responsibilities: What content does your team need to create to address the themes you identified? Establish deadlines, assign tasks, and follow-up on deliverables.
In short, when we continually ask how to improve customer experiences in the workplace, everyone wins. Customers feel supported and taken care of, and customer service teams are knowledgeable and equipped to do better work for years to come.
Rachel Saltsgaver is the Content Manager at Lessonly, the leader in team training software for customer support teams. With a blend of both corporate and creative experience, Rachel writes regularly about call center training and support team best practices.
Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020
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