It’s true no matter the nature of your business: the efficiency with which your employees execute their day-to-day tasks will ultimately determine the success of your enterprise. It makes sense, then, to invest a considerable amount of time and energy into developing and fine-tuning methods to increase the efficiency of your customer support team.
Here we’ll share some of our favorite tried-and-true methods for increasing customer service efficiency. Hopefully they’ll provide some inspiration for those looking to implement processes and procedures that really work for their budding customer support team.
Why customer support efficiency is important
Having an efficient customer support team is important for a number of reasons. First, efficient customer support means everybody spends less time on the phone, in live-chat modules or sending emails back and forth. Saving your customers the frustration of spending their lunch break in a dialogue with your agents will improve your company’s reputation longterm. Solving customers’ issues efficiently also means your agents will be able to handle more customer requests per shift, which will increase your revenue over time.
Customer support teams also have to contend with the reality of customer service induced churn, wherein customers that are frustrated with inadequate or unprofessional support decide to take their business elsewhere.
Lagging response times, low productivity levels and bad CX are just a few of the problem areas that, if left unaddressed, can lead to high churn rates.
Lagging response times and low productivity levels go hand in hand, in that lagging response times are often the product of low productivity levels. These can be serious pitfalls for customer support teams and result in poor CX, so as a manager it’s important to inculcate a solid work ethic among team members from their first day on the job. Furthermore, if agents understand the why behind their day-to-day tasks, they’ll be more likely to approach their work with gusto and keep those productivity levels high.
Luckily, all of these pain points can be addressed by increasing the efficiency of your customer support agents. Improving your customer service in this manner will increase output and revenue, raise brand awareness and reputation and drastically lower customer churn rates.
Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s get into some of the ways you can make it happen.
Tips to increase your customer support efficiency
1. Provide agents with single knowledge base
One thing you’ll want to avoid at all costs is having your agents scrambling to find the answers to basic customer requests. The best way to prevent that scenario is by providing and maintaining internal tools from which your agents can extract answers to basic customer inquiries.
If your agents know exactly where to look for answers to customers’ questions – and that knowledge base is easily accessible during calls – they’ll be able to quickly resolve customer requests and drive up customer support satisfaction rates. It’ll make your agents' lives easier and keep your customers happy. What’s not to love?
2. Manage your team workflow effectively
Teams work best when everybody’s workflows are clearly defined. You never want to have an employee sitting on their hands wondering what they should be doing, and establishing set day-to-day work routines for all of your employees is the best way to ensure that doesn’t happen.
There are a number of ways to accomplish this goal as a manager. Depending on the size of your team, you could delegate certain managerial duties to team leaders. These leaders would be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day work routines of a smaller and more manageable group of employees.
If you want to offer your employees more autonomy while also giving them the tools needed to work effectively and efficiently, you could take advantage of smart tools like Gmelius which helps you to automate your agent's daily processes and boost the team collaboration, especially when working on different cases at the same time. It brilliantly combines all of your disparate emails, Slack pings, Trello board tasks and more into one easy-to-manage interface. Such a solution can be incredibly helpful in keeping employees organized and on task, and is a surefire way to boost your team’s efficiency while allowing them to maintain a sense of autonomy in their work.
3. Automate your calls and emails
There are certain rote, mundane tasks that customer support agents are asked to do day in and day out. Manually dialling phone number after phone number, sending out boilerplate follow-up emails – these sorts of things have been a part of customer support work for as long as customer support work has existed.
But what if there was a better way? There are a growing number of software tools on the market today that can actually automate the sort of busywork that holds your customer support agents back from being as efficient as they ought to be.
For example, a predictive dialer is a really neat feature included in many modern call center softwares that automatically dials through a pre-set list of prospects’ phone numbers. When a connection is made, the predictive dialer routes the call to an available agent. It’s a great feature that keeps the ball rolling during dialing campaigns, cutting down on idle time and increasing efficiency as a result.
4. Use the power of technology to monitor customer support
The choice is simple for today’s companies: either harness the power of technology or risk falling behind your competition.
Tracking business critical KPIs is an important part of workflow optimization, and modern business collaboration tools use cutting-edge technology to help you do just that.
Gmail analytics features, for example, allow you to instantly generate reports detailing your customer support team’s gmail activity.
These reports offer valuable insight into your team’s habits, and highlight those workflow processes that are working well, and those that need to be reevaluated. Once you begin monitoring things like email traffic and response time, you’ll be able to start implementing those fixes that’ll help your agents work more efficiently.
Technology is helping customer support teams around the world streamline their workflows and make better business decisions every day. Isn’t it time you joined in the fun?
5. Save time by automating repetitive replies
Properly nurturing a sales lead takes a concerted effort made over the course of days, if not weeks, and an integral part of the process is sending follow-up emails.
As a general rule, these follow-up emails are formulaic, written using a template and replicated time and again for different clients. Your customer support department may have boilerplate emails prepared for three day follow-ups, one week follow-ups etc.
Why not automate the delivery of these sorts of follow-up emails? There are plenty of software tools that make it possible, and doing so will no doubt save your customer support agents a significant amount of time that could be better spent doing almost anything else.
6. Route requests to the right agent
A big part of what drives efficiency in a customer support context is making sure the right agents see incoming requests so they’re able to apply their expertise and efficiently resolve any outstanding issues.
According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 83% of customers expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person. It’s incredibly important, then, for business to ensure that customer requests are routed to the correct agent, every time. There are several ways to do this, including implementing a well-designed IVR system, allowing customers and agents to quickly initiate a three-way call with a manager and email sharing.
While IVR systems and three-way calling are features exclusive to over-the-phone customer interactions, email sharing allows managers or agents to easily delegate email conversations to the team member most capable of remedying the situation. A simple click or @mention notifies your teammate that their assistance is needed, and they’re automatically given access to the full email conversation history. It’s a big time-saver for your agents and customers alike!
7. Get customer feedback and make improvements
The first draft of something is rarely perfect, and that holds true for any and all customer support initiatives.
Once you’ve selected and implemented your preferred method for increasing the efficiency of your customer support agents, solicit feedback from your agents and customers. Something as simple as sending out an email survey designed to gauge the popularity and effectiveness of your new plan can do wonders in assuring people that their opinion is valued.
For workers, it can increase job satisfaction rates and for customers, it can improve the overall perception of your product or service. It’s one of those things that takes very little effort, yet yields important results for your business.
Finally, if a customer comes back to you with ideas for potential improvements, hear them out and consider making a change. Customer feedback often inspires the best ideas, so be sure to treat it as the great opportunity it is to refine your customer service strategy.