Knowing where you are in the life cycle of a customer service team will help you know how to best help your team to be effective at what they do.
Everything goes through stages of development, especially effective customer service teams. They need to be created, developed, refined, and they eventually mature. People, businesses, and projects all go through cycles. With each distinct phase you see specific characteristics that are particular to that phase of a growth cycle.
Knowing the stages of a successful customer service team will help you understand its advantages and help you properly develop your team to take advantage of the next level in its growth cycle.
1. Creating a successful customer service team
In the beginning it may be just you running customer service. It may be just a few individuals offering customer support. As your customer service team is created, the main focus is just establishing yourself or your group and what you want to accomplish. Your focus may simply be staffing, or creating channels for customers to contact your group. It may be setting up the technology or the systems that you feel will better help your group serve your customers. All of this takes time and a lot of hard work.
At this beginning stage, your focus often is just learning about what successful teams do. Being a full-fledged 24/7 customer service call center may be the stuff of your dreams. You may not think you’ll ever get there, but as you feed your customer service team with the resources it needs, allow it to grow and mature, you’ll begin to see skills being refined and developed towards a more sophisticated service approach.
At first there’s little thought to metrics, efficiency reports, customer surveys, or NetPromoter scores. Your main focus is on just keeping the lights on. But once you have the hang of how customer service needs to run, you’re ready to start developing your team into an efficient, effective, customer service machine.
2. Developing your customer service team
When you have a handle for the basics of delivering a customer service experience and when you’ve become consistent at making sure that your customers are getting the basics, it’s time to start target your existing service and practices and plan on how your can scale it to serve more customers and ensure that your quality customer service is consistent.
In addition to creating a customer service strategy, you have to focus on acquiring talented, service focused people to join your team. It’s also imperative that you begin to create a customer service training program to make sure that your team is continually working on sharpening their service skills and practicing those new abilities that mean most to customers.
3. Refining your customer service team
As you focus on growing your customer service team, you need to focus on creating remarkable service and memorable service experiences. it’s no longer enough to just deliver the customer service basics, creating lasting customer loyalty and keeping customers coming back requires exceptional customer service. You’ll need to begin to understand which aspect of service your customers appreciate, what they care about most, what your competition is doing, and how you can stand out from the crowd.
With your expanded team and its ability to deliver the customer service basics, and as you continue to add service minded people, your customer service vision will begin to take shape. You’ll begin to see the early fruits of the seeds of service planted long ago. Continue to nourish that growing service plant and it’ll blossom into a precious service fruit that you and your customers can enjoy.
4. Maturing a customer service team
Once you’ve built out your customer service team, refined your processes and identified where you are going to compete in delivering an exceptional service experience, and as you continue to add service oriented professionals to your team, it’s tempting to just sit back and relax. You’ve earned a break, growing a successful customer service team is hard work, but it’s not yet time to relax, your team still needs you. The next step is to help your team mature into a well oiled customer service machine. The final step in the growth of a customer service team is to help create individuals who will build their own customer service team.
As you identify those team members who have management capacity and a vision for what customer service should be, you will need to get these people on a training program to make them successful customer service managers. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s tough to learn on your own. Take these people under your wing and give them opportunities to work with you in implementing changes, training new individuals. Let them see the day-to-day demands on the boss, include them in some of the planning sessions. You future leaders need as much experience as you’re willing to share with them. The more you expose them, the faster they can learn.
As you train new customer service managers you complete the cycle of the successful customer service team. You now have experts who can continue to develop the special service team you’ve created. You also have professionals who can go out and build their own teams with the knowledge and skills that they’ve learned from you. You’ve now armed them with the ability to effectively create customer service teams that know how to deliver exceptional customer service.
What’s your secret to a successful customer service team?
So what have you found effective in creating a successful customer service team? Have you found new ways to develop your service skills and refine the customer service process?5
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