Small brands can easily improvise in order to please customers. With boutique companies, management knows each of its customers, what they expect and what would best benefit them. Guidelines are easily tweaked in order to provide stellar customer service. Larger companies and brands that are scaling, however, have a greater challenge when it comes to keeping everyone appeased. Here are five ways to enable customer service agents in order to keep customer expectations fulfilled.
1. Establish the Company Vision
Establish a vision for customer service. Employees who understand the customer service vision will look for empowerment opportunities. Employees should be able to answer two primary questions about the vision: What does it mean? How can I contribute?
Those who don’t understand the vision may see their job as just a series of tasks that need to be completed. Or, they may assume that their only job is enforcing rules. Sanctioning agents isn’t about giving them permission to flex their muscle. They should be encouraged to engage with customers, to explain rules and policies, and to provide alternative solutions; they shouldn’t simply wield their power because they can.
2. Celebrate Accomplishments
To encourage more employees to make important decisions, celebrate agents who go above and beyond. This will help you build this new process into the business culture, which will make more of an impact than simply sending out an e-mail or holding a meeting. Zappos is known for spending up to eight hours on phone calls and sending flowers to customers who are in mourning. When they celebrate their accomplishments and commitment to customer service, other employees are encouraged to handle offbeat situations. Every corporate culture is different and management can decide what’s reasonable for the brand and the team.
3. Collaborate with Agents
When employees know that they can combine the strengths of various staff members, they can provide customer service without asking for management to step in. Agents need to be able to easily consult each other. One way to connect staff to one another is through a private, internal community. When questions are asked, the entire group will be able to see them and respond. Additionally, managers should have an open door policy that gives agents an outlet for talking about their concerns and asking questions.
4. Let Agents Show Their Personality
Customers don’t want to feel that the agent is reading from a script; they want to feel that they’re getting personalized service and that the agent will do whatever is necessary, immediately, to handle the situation. Adding a bit of personal voice into support conversations is a great way to personalize the experience. This is the kind of attention that customers have grown to expect, especially when using social media to communicate with a brand. Live chats and Tweets, for example, aren’t often scripted. This type of support must be used across all channels.
When agents both solve a customer’s problem and keep them entertained, the customer will be highly satisfied. Humor, especially when needed to lighten the mood during a technical support issue or when the customer has a complaint, is a great way to ease a tense situation. Personal anecdotes that relate to the customer or references to pop culture help engage customers. Agents have to use their judgement, though, since not every customer will be interested in this type of communication. Online conversations should first be approached in a friendly, professional manner; when appropriate, casual conversation can progress from there.
5. Ask Your Agents for Advice
Customer service agents who have been working with the same company for a long time often know what customers want and the quickest way to please them. At times, management may want to asked experienced agents for their advice. Some agents already know what to do to make customers happy; they just need to know that they’re empowered to make those decisions.