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Customer Support: Tips from Leadership

Eric Madura, Ytel |  

Customer support - absolutely necessary for your business, yet very easy to screw up. Having the best agents is key, there’s no doubt about that. As far as technology goes, things are changing so quickly… it’s hard to keep up. As newer technologies enable more ease in performing business transactions, consumers have higher expectations when it comes to customer support. So, what does that mean for your business? You must adapt! Here are a few tips and ideas to implement in your customer support strategy for 2017.

Customer support - absolutely necessary for your business, yet very easy to screw up. Having the best agents is key, there’s no doubt about that. As far as technology goes, things are changing so quickly… it’s hard to keep up. As newer technologies enable more ease in performing business transactions, consumers have higher expectations when it comes to customer support. So, what does that mean for your business? You must adapt! Here’s a few tips and ideas to implement in your customer support strategy for 2017.

1. Make it easy for the customer to contact you and receive support

How do you make your support available? Are you stuck with the traditional inbound customer service IVR quagmire? Do your customers have to press 5 different options just to reach a live agent? Having a support team that is available via different avenues is key - email, social media, text and phone calls are the four main ways to interact with your customers. In today’s ever-connected world, your customers will use the method that is easiest for them, and you should be ready. Be sure you have a robust ticketing system to handle the requests and keep your agents on track.

2. Personality traits that make a great support agent

A question I am consistently asked is what qualities I look for in candidates when hiring. While every hiring manager is different, several key personality traits are common amongst new hires: personable, friendly, confident and a fast thinker are the key traits I look for. When I interview, I bounce around topics in an effort to recreate a typical phone call. How well the candidate navigates the questions gives me insight into how they will react on the phone with a customer who wants to address several topics at once. How they answer gives me an idea of how they will speak with the customer on the phone. I believe you should use the interview to recreate, as closely as possible, a typical call flow they can expect to receive on a daily basis.

3. Consistency is key

The key to delivering a world class experience is consistency. Consistency with how the phone is answered, how the customer is addressed, to the answers provided, how the call is completed... these are all critical for shaping the perception of the customer. Imagine for a minute if you called your cell phone company and asked the same question to four different agents and received four different answers. Who do you trust? Who do you not believe? What is your confidence level after receiving the 4th answer to your question?

Knowing that you are receiving potentially conflicting information doesn’t make you feel confident about the product you've purchased. It all starts with your internal agent training program and is supported by regular check-ins and refresher trainings for your agents.

My mantra - One Team, One Voice

4. Create a customized experience

In a perfect world, every customer is assigned a dedicated support agent who knows the most intimate details of the account and is considered to be an “honorary employee” of the customer they serve. That agent provides a truly customized experience for the customer as they are the only ones who work directly with them. In reality, one agent services dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of customers. Creating the customized experience for all of your customers is nearly impossible. 

With a reliable CRM system, you can easily create the perception of the customized experience. Making small talk with your clients and taking notes of the information learned (names of their kids and spouse, major anniversary dates, likes and dislikes, etc) can go a long way with the customer and showcases your commitment to making them successful and caring about their well-being. Here's a few of our favorite tips in positive customer experience. 

5. Establishing Clear Escalation Paths

We all treasure our “trophy accounts”. They are the accounts that pay well and (usually) are associated with a well known brand. These are the accounts that we bend over backwards for. Ensuring those accounts have a clearly defined escalation path is the key to controlling the perception of your system and products. Your marquee accounts should know your hours of operation, who their primary point-of-contact is, who the POC’s Manager is, along with 1 or 2 folks from the Executive team. Including cell phone numbers is a must! Be sure they know they can reach you 24/7/365 - if you aren’t that available, I guarantee your competition is.

These are just a few key suggestions for making your Customer Support Department a world class operation. How you manage your operation will be different than how we manage ours - but several components are common regardless. Hiring the right agents, training and refreshing their skills, being available and ensuring you have that personal connection with your customers are all key to a successful customer support department.New Call-to-action

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About The Author

Eric Madura, Ytel

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Eric is the Ytel Customer Support Manager and believes in a “Customer First” approach to servicing clients. He has spent his entire professional career in customer service, including managing a variety of call centers over the past 16+ years.


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