7 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service Team’s Productivity

How important is good customer service to the bottom line of your business?

Well, according to a 2011 survey by AmEx, one happy customer tells, on average, nine other people about their experience.

So if you can make one customer happy every day, that means you can get around 2,250 referrals from people who absolutely love what you do.

That kind of social proof is priceless.

So how do you get there?

It all starts with a productive customer service team. The more efficient your team is and the faster cases are resolved, the more customers you’ll have that are raving about your business.

Here are seven steps you can follow to boost your team's productivity and give your customers an incredible experience.

Let's get into it!

How to Make Your Customer Service Team More Productive

Step 1: Create a Culture of Accountability to Avoid Procrastination

Do you know those boss levels on video games?

Procrastination is the ultimate ‘boss battle’ you need to win to improve your team’s productivity.

Most of us will choose the easy task first and try to avoid the hard tasks for as long as possible. While this mentality is useful for finding the quickest way to get home, in customer service, it's a one-way ticket to angry customers.

Steps you can take to create a culture of accountability in your customer service team

  • Set non-negotiable deadlines: Nip procrastination in the bud by setting a hard deadline (with a specific time AND date) for a support ticket response.
  • Share deadlines with other people: Add external pressure by communicating the deadlines with the customer pr other stakeholders to avoid putting off the task for another day.
  • Use a transparent workflow: When the whole team can see what everyone is working on, it holds the person accountable for the task. It's not that easy to procrastinate when everyone knows about it.
  • Get your team to take the four tendencies quiz: If you're struggling to motivate your team with accountability, get everyone to take the 4 Tendencies quiz by Gretchen Rubin. It will show you how an individual responds to internal and external expectations.

Read Also: Creating a Customer-Centric Culture with Shep Hyken

Step 2: Use Customer Support Software That Boosts Productivity

Does your customer service software streamline workflows or add more tasks onto your agent's plates?

When your entire day is spent in a help desk software, you need to make sure it has been designed with productivity in mind.

Tools to look for in customer support help desk solution:

  • A powerful knowledge base: By using a helpdesk solution that lets you create a robust knowledge base, you can reduce the number of support tickets by a massive 80%. Moreover, you can empower customers to solve minor problems and free up your agents' time to work on more complex tasks.

  • Shared inboxes: Shared inboxes help you merge all your customer-facing inboxes, see who is working on what, create canned responses, and always send timely responses to customers. You can also use labels and internal notes to flag issues and route tickets to the relevant agents or departments.

  • Live chat: In a world where people expect instant gratification, you can delight your customers by instantly replying to queries with live chat software. It helps you solve issues instantly, convert leads into customers, and provide personalized support.

Recommended Read: Why Help Desk Software is Important for Your Business?

Step 3: Discourage Your Customer Service Team From Multi-tasking 

Multi-tasking is a productivity illusion.

You might think that handling support tickets while on a conference call is a good thing, but research has shown that humans are terrible multi-taskers.

A study at Stanford University found that multitasking lowers your IQ. It's backed up by a report published by the American Psychological Association that shows switching tasks is counterproductive and sends mixed signals to your brain, slowing down its speed.

And that comes at a cost.

Every time you get sidetracked, it takes on average 23-minutes to get back on track, and with workers switching tasks every 3-minutes, that's a productivity black hole.

Here are some steps you can take to stop the multi-tasking culture in your support team

  • Teach your team to prioritize tasks: When you work in a high-pressure environment with multiple tasks, it can feel overwhelming. All tasks are important on different levels, and an efficient team needs to know how to differentiate, prioritize and stick to that list.

  • Create boundaries: If your team gets distracted by social media platforms or the internet, block those websites causing distractions during office hours. Discourage the use of smartphones for personal use during work hours. 

  • Complete one task at a time: Encourage your team to stay focused and reduce the number of customers in the queue by resolving one ticket a time.

Step 4: Empower Your Agents to Take Initiative

You need processes in place, so agents know what to do when BUT there is a fine line.

You don't want so much red tape that it restricts people from doing their jobs.

Plus, with customer voice more important than ever before, your reputation (and bottom line) is at stake when you have an incompetent team.

The more steps there are to a resolution, the more ineffective your services become. A problem can be solved much quicker when the person in charge is empowered. 

Relinquishing control might seem scary, but if you've educated your support team and given them the right tools to solve problems, it will empower them to deliver an extraordinary customer experience.

How to empower your customer support agents

Invest in turning people into experts: Create different areas of specialization in your teams and streamline tickets to the right agents by using chatbots. Your customer will get to speak to the best person to solve their problem and won't have to pass through several agents to get it resolved.

Flatten the workplace hierarchy: Most customer issues can be solved within a couple of minutes, but agents aren't always empowered to do so. Authorize support representatives to act as swiftly as possible to verify complaints and close the case.

Encourage agents to personalize solutions: Sometimes, all you need to do to solve an issue and make a customer feel valued is by taking the initiative. Encourage your support team to go the extra mile by offering free shipping, discounts, or replacements when necessary.

Read Also: How to Develop Your First Employee Training Program

Step 5: Encourage Employee Engagement

Employment engagement isn't about how happy your team is with workplace benefits. At its core, employee engagement is about the emotional commitment the person has to the company.

When a person feels engaged, it means they care about the organization and will do their best to achieve the team's objectives and be a part of a successful business.

When employees are engaged, they provide better customer service. When customers are happy with your service, that leads to more referrals, sales, and a positive brand reputation.

How to encourage employee engagement:

  • Show appreciation and gratitude: Take the time to thank your team members for their hard work and effort they put into making your organization more profitable.
  • Offer workplace flexibility: Give your team the freedom to adjust their work schedules or locations to suit their needs better. For example, a work from home policy.
  • Promote a culture of taking breaks: Encourage your support team to take short 10-minute breaks and 1-hour lunch breaks from their desk. These power breaks boost focus and productivity like no other.

Step 6: Skip Working at the Coffee Shop

If your support team is remote, there's a good chance your employees use the local coffee shop as their "office".

However, a cafe or or a library for that matter are not the most productive space to work.

According to research, if the coffee shop ambiance is higher than 85 decibels, your productivity can plummet.

Some studies that show visual distractions at public places (like people walking around) can harm your focus and cognitive function.

While coffee shops are great for simple tasks like answering emails, encourage your remote customer service team to work in quiet environments with fewer distractions.

Step 7: Automate for Speed

Ask yourself:

  • How long are my agents taking to complete each task?
  • How many of those tasks can be automated?
  • How can we achieve more with an automated workflow?

As much as possible, you want to eliminate manual tasks and automate them to free up your team's time to focus on more complex issues.

How to increase speed:

  • Invest in your customer onboarding to ensure your customers get solid service right from the start. 
  • Set up a routing system for inquiries to go to the right person.
  • Create a frequently asked questions page or build a knowledge base.
  • Use mobile support tools to keep your business up and running from anywhere.
  • Create workflows that help agents speed through repetitive tasks.
  • Use email verification tools to keep your lead lists up-to-date

Make Every Minute Count! 

While speed isn't the only thing your customer support team needs to focus on, it does matter. A team that can resolve issues quickly is productive and that means you have the ability to exceed customer expectations.

To improve your customer service productivity, you need to:

  1. Create a culture of accountability.
  2. Use customer support software that encourages productivity.
  3. Discourage a culture of multi-tasking.
  4. Empower your agents to solve cases quickly and efficiently.
  5. Encourage employee engagement.
  6. Skip working at the coffee shop to improve focus.
  7. Automate repetitive tasks as much as possible,

Follow these seven tips, and you'll see an instant improvement in your team's productivity. 

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About the author

Jared Cornell

Jared is a customer support expert. He has been published in CrazyEgg, Foundr, and CXL. As a customer support executive at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in developing a complete customer support system that more than doubled customer satisfaction.

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