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Customer Service Performance Review – A Detailed Guide

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Customer Service Performance Review – A Detailed Guide

Jul 06, 2024
10 min read

Table of contents

Customer service is a tough and stressful job.

Not only are customer service staff on the frontline representing the company, but they also have to deal with unhappy, anxious, and sometimes, even difficult customers.

It’s no surprise then that customer service teams often see unhappy, stressed-out team members and a high turnover rate. This makes managing customer service teams a very challenging job.

But there’s something that can help – customer service performance reviews.

As a customer service team manager, it may seem like there’s never enough time for you to step out of the daily grind and take time out to review your team’s performance. You’re always busy putting out fires and directing your team on the fly. 

This can make it difficult to keep track of your team members’ individual performance, goals, and career aspirations.

A well-structured, on-point, meaningful customer service performance review can help bring these back into your focus.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What is a customer service performance review 
  • Importance of conducting a customer service performance review 
  • Effective ways to conduct a performance review
  • Things you should write in a customer service review
  • The ultimate customer service performance review checklist 
  • Top phrases and examples of customer service performance reviews
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Table of Contents

What is a Customer Service Performance Review?

A customer service performance review is a structured evaluation conducted by a manager to assess an employee’s performance in their customer service role. During this review, the manager analyzes the employee’s interactions with customers, ability to handle inquiries and complaints, and their impact on company-wide metrics.

Simply put, a customer service performance review is a periodic process designed to keep your customer service team focused on the job and help them develop the ability to handle customers and their queries effectively. 

This process ensures quality and consistency in your level of service. It helps you share critical feedback with your team members, identify opportunities for growth, and keep them engaged.

Why is it Necessary to Conduct a Customer Service Performance Review?

One major benefit of managing a customer service team is that you get to shape your team’s goals and set objectives for their career growth and success. As a manager, as long as you’re in line with your company’s overall goals, you have the complete freedom to decide what’s important and how you want to measure it. 

And there’s no better way to improve your team’s performance than with regular reviews. So here are some more reasons for you to conduct a customer service performance review for your team.

Increase employee retention

As a manager, talking to your team members regularly about their performance and giving them actionable feedback goes a long way in helping them feel like you are invested in their success. It encourages them to better themselves each day and prevents them from jumping ship.

So as a customer service manager, structuring these conversations into performance reviews can help retain employees for longer.

Create a level-playing field for your team members

Your customer service team is the sum total of the unique skills of each team member. By conducting regular performance reviews, you’ll help every team member identify their strengths and develop them further. As a result, you’ll have a diverse, high-performing team where every member brings something new and unique to the table.

Improve consistency and quality

Frequent customer service performance reviews give you the opportunity to ensure consistency and quality in your team’s communication and documentation.

This is important as your team scales and the volume of support queries goes up. You need to ensure that every customer gets the same level of service, no matter which support staff they are interacting with or which channel they are using to communicate.

Align team objectives with the larger company goals

We’ve said this earlier, and we’ll say it again – a lot of what happens in customer service occurs on the fly. In such situations, it is easy to lose sight of the larger picture.

Reiterating company goals and aligning them with individual goals during feedback sessions can help bring them back into alignment. Secondly, it will make your team members feel like they are a part of the organization.

It gives them a deeper sense of purpose and builds their affinity towards the organization.

Recommended Reads: 
Customer Service Benchmark Report 

Ways to Transform Your Customer Support from a Cost Center to Profit Center

The Ultimate Customer Service Hiring and Training Handbook

How to Conduct a Customer Service Performance Review

Every customer service performance review can be broadly divided into four phases.

Phase 1: Preparation

Give your team members an adequate heads-up: Nobody wants to be caught off-guard when it comes to a performance review. Be transparent with your team. Let them know at least a week in advance. Give them tips on how to prepare for the performance review. 

If you plan to address certain specific customer conversations or metrics, let them know to have these ready before the review. You can easily create Google dashboards and share the relevant data with the team. Advise them to introspect and think about their strengths and weaknesses.

Lower the stakes: Do not make a performance review seem like the end of the world. Your reps may feel nervous about the upcoming performance review, which may lower their confidence levels and, in turn, lead to poor performance on the job.

Instead, take time out to talk to your team members in person about the upcoming review. Tell them that the stakes aren’t all that high. Instead, ask them to treat the review as a check-in, a process that allows them to take a step back, introspect, identify areas of improvement, and delight customers.

Phase 2: Evaluation

Review real conversation transcripts: To objectively review every employee’s performance in your team, it’s best to look at actual conversations that they’ve had with customers. It is also a good idea to review conversations of different lengths and possibly ones that have happened over different channels.

This gives you a chance to give more comprehensive and constructive feedback, get more valuable insights, and spot performance trends that can help optimize customer service channels.

Crunch the numbers: In addition to reviewing conversations, you should also use customer service metrics to track every team member’s performance. Analyze this data to understand how each rep is performing accurately. Metrics like first response time, average resolution time, CSAT scores, etc., can help you find each rep’s areas of strengths and weaknesses. This is critical because it provides them with pointed feedback and helps them understand their areas of improvement.

Provide feedback with empathy: Telling people that they lack in certain areas isn’t easy, especially if you work with them on a daily basis. One way to make this process a little easier is by adopting the compliment sandwich.

Giving better feedback with the help of a ‘compliment sandwich’
Giving better feedback with the help of a ‘compliment sandwich’

In simple terms, start and finish with positive feedback while squeezing criticism in between. For example, you can tell a rep, “You’re doing a wonderful job in adhering to the SLAs, but your initial responses seem a little direct and rushed. It’s okay to take a little extra time and respond to these messages with a little more care. If you take care of this, you’ll be golden!

Performance review phrases:

Sometimes, it’s difficult to find the right words that represent your feedback correctly and empathetically. The following phrases can come in handy during a performance review.

When performance exceeds expectations:

  • Susan has great communication skills and is empathetic towards customers’ problems
  • William is the go-to person for his co-workers during difficult customer interactions
  • Angela solicits customer feedback which helps the organization in moving forward

When performance needs improvement:

  • Ethan needs a better understanding of our company’s products or services
  • Angela must work on her interpersonal skills more
  • Helen needs to reduce the time required to respond to customer requests

Asking the right questions: While a customer service performance review might seem like a chance to provide your team feedback, it is also the perfect opportunity to ask them the right questions.

By asking your reps the right questions, you’re allowing them to introspect better. You’re kickstarting their process of critically thinking about their day-to-day performance. Here are a few questions that you can ask:

  • Do you think you’re using your time effectively?
  • Do you enjoy certain aspects of customer service more than others?
  • Are there certain areas that you want to specialize in?
  • Is there anything that you are concerned about?
  • Can you think of ways in which I can help make our team better?
  • What would you like to improve upon in the next quarter?

These questions will not only help your team members think about their performance deeply, but they’ll also help you get significant insights that you may miss in a one-way conversation.

Phase 3: The way forward

Brainstorming sessions: Once you’ve established each team member’s areas of improvement, you should give them the chance to brainstorm ways to improve their performance. Give each rep the chance to come up with strategies on their own. Once you’ve had the opportunity to collate all of their responses, take the lead and help them develop a constructive strategy to address their weaknesses and achieve their goals.

Setting SMART goals: After brainstorming, you should outline measurable goals for how each rep can go about improving their weaknesses, achieving their career goals, and becoming better customer service professionals on the whole. A good framework for this is to set up SMART goals.

Setting up SMART Goals for your customer service team
Setting up SMART Goals for your customer service team

To help each rep become better, you should set individual goals aligned with the company’s goals. These goals should be specific, realistically achievable in the given timeframe, and measurable so that you can provide your team members with the right kind of feedback during the next performance review.

For example, here are some goals that you can set:

  • Increase customer satisfaction (CSAT) score from 90% to 95%
  • Reduce first response time on chat from one minute to 30 seconds
  • Lead product training sessions for new customer service representatives

Phase 4: The follow-up

After helping each customer service team member set up their goals, you should also help them create specific plans to achieve their goals. If you feel that they need coaching to achieve their goals, you should help to facilitate that.

Set up informal, short one-on-one catch-ups with each member of your team. Talk to them about the immediate goals that you have set, and also ask them about their larger career goals. Your team will work harder if you make them feel that you are invested in their long-term success.

Set up schedules for the following performance review. Make sure there is a set cycle. And once again, remember to give your team members a good heads-up.

What Should You Write in a Customer Service Performance Review

Writing a comprehensive and helpful customer service performance review requires careful observation and assessment of an employee’s performance. The goal is to provide constructive feedback, acknowledge strengths, and suggest areas for improvement.

Here’s a guideline on what to include:

Introduction and Employee Information:
Start the review by introducing the employee and providing their relevant job details, such as their job title, department, and the time period considered for the review. 

Overall Performance Rating:
Begin the evaluation by summarizing the employee’s overall performance. Use a rating scale, such as “exceeds expectations,” “meets expectations,” “needs improvement,” or any other scale your company uses.

Areas of Strength:
– Highlight the employee’s strengths in customer service. Provide specific examples of situations where the employee excelled and exceeded expectations.

– Mention any positive feedback or compliments received from customers or colleagues.

Key Achievements:
Outline any significant accomplishments or milestones achieved by the employee during the review period. These could include improvements in customer satisfaction metrics, meeting specific targets, or going above and beyond their regular responsibilities.

Areas for Improvement:
Identify specific areas where the employee can improve their customer service skills. Be constructive and supportive in your feedback.

Use examples or scenarios to illustrate where the employee could have handled situations differently or more effectively.

Communication Skills:
Evaluate the employee’s verbal and written communication skills, as these are vital in customer service.

Comment on their ability to actively listen to customers and respond appropriately.

Problem-Solving Abilities:
Assess the employee’s ability to identify and resolve customer issues.

Analyze their approach to handling difficult or escalated situations.

Product/Service Knowledge:
Evaluate the employee’s knowledge of the company’s products or services.

If applicable, comment on their proficiency in using support tools and resources.

Teamwork and Collaboration:
Evaluate how well the employee works with colleagues, especially in cross-functional teams.

Assess their willingness to assist others and contribute to a positive team environment.

Time Management:
Comment on the employee’s ability to handle multiple tasks and prioritize work efficiently.

Mention any instances where the employee demonstrated effective time management skills.

Adherence to Company Policies:
Ensure the employee is following company policies, procedures, and guidelines related to customer service.

If there are any compliance issues, provide guidance on how to improve.

Professional Development:
Discuss the employee’s participation in training and development opportunities related to customer service.

Encourage further growth and suggest relevant training programs if needed.

Goal Setting:
Collaborate with the employee to set achievable goals for the next review period.

Ensure these goals align with the company’s overall customer service objectives.

Closing note:
Summarize the main points of the review.

Express appreciation. Mention improvement areas (if any) and actionable steps for the same.

Remember, a successful performance review should help your team members get better at what they do and contribute positively to both their growth and that of the organization.

Customer Service Performance Review Checklist

Here’s a handy customer service performance review checklist that you can use for your team’s next review:

A simple customer service performance review checklist
A simple customer service performance review checklist

Phrases and Examples of Customer Service Performance Review

When providing customer service performance review messages, it’s essential to strike a balance between constructive feedback and recognition of strengths. 

Here are some examples that you can use:

Positive Feedback and Recognition Examples:

  • Sarah consistently exceeds customer expectations with her warm and attentive demeanor.
  • John’s ability to maintain composure under pressure makes him a valuable asset in handling challenging customer interactions.
  • Lisa’s exceptional problem-solving skills have resulted in a significant reduction in customer complaints.
  • Michael consistently demonstrates empathy and actively listens to customers, creating a positive and understanding atmosphere.
  • Emily’s dedication to going the extra mile for clients has fostered strong customer loyalty and repeat business.
  • Steven has developed a keen understanding of our products and services.
  • Rachel’s clear and concise communication style has contributed to a 25% increase in customer satisfaction scores.
  • David’s positive attitude and enthusiasm are infectious, leaving a lasting impression on customers.
  • Melissa’s ability to build rapport with customers has been instrumental in resolving complex issues to their satisfaction.
  • Mark’s responsiveness to customer inquiries has earned him consistently high ratings in our customer feedback surveys.
  • Jessica’s adaptability enables her to handle diverse customer needs effectively and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
  • Robert’s patience and ability to educate customers have resulted in fewer misunderstandings and increased customer confidence.
  • Jennifer’s exceptional follow-up skills ensure that customers feel valued and supported throughout their interactions.
  • Chris’s proactive approach to customer service has resulted in significant improvements in response times.
  • Laura’s ability to turn frustrated customers into brand advocates showcases her outstanding customer service skills.
  • Daniel’s attention to detail has contributed to a reduction in order processing errors and customer complaints.
  • Sarah’s genuine interest in customers’ concerns fosters trust and loyalty among our client base.
  • Matthew’s exceptional product knowledge enables him to provide personalized solutions that exceed customer expectations.
  • Michelle consistently demonstrates a willingness to take on additional responsibilities to support the team during busy periods.
  • Alex’s exemplary professionalism has set a high standard for customer service within the department.

Constructive Feedback for Improvement Examples:

  • While Alice’s interactions with customers are generally satisfactory, she could work on being more proactive in following up with clients to ensure their needs are met fully.
  • Tom’s communication could benefit from being more concise and focused on addressing customer concerns directly.
  • Although Anna is proficient in handling standard customer inquiries, she should work on building confidence to resolve more complex issues independently.
  • Peter’s performance would benefit from showing more initiative in seeking out opportunities to assist customers without waiting for requests.
  • Emma can work on enhancing her active listening skills to fully understand and empathize with customers’ needs.
  • Richard’s responsiveness to customer emails needs improvement, as some queries have been left unanswered for an extended period.
  • While Katie’s product knowledge is generally good, she should strive to stay up-to-date with the latest developments to offer the most accurate information to customers.
  • Jack’s tone of voice during customer calls could be improved to ensure a consistently positive and friendly experience.
  • George’s ability to de-escalate tense situations would benefit from additional training and coaching.
  • Emma should work on balancing her time between assisting customers in person and addressing incoming customer calls promptly.
  • David could improve his record-keeping to ensure customer preferences and histories are accurately documented.
  • While Jessica is approachable, she should work on being more assertive when necessary to enforce company policies.
  • Robert should strive to provide more proactive updates to customers when there are delays or issues with their orders.
  • Susan should take more ownership of customer issues and follow them through to resolution rather than passing them to colleagues.
  • Henry could benefit from seeking out feedback from colleagues and supervisors to identify areas for improvement in his customer service approach.
  • Karen’s email responses should be proofread carefully to avoid any grammatical errors or typos.
  • Charles should focus on building stronger relationships with long-term customers to drive repeat business.

Remember: when doing performance reviews for your team, it’s important to be specific and provide actionable feedback. These examples can be adjusted to fit the specific context and the individual.

Wrapping up

Conducting a customer service performance review can be a challenging exercise. But managers can make this process significantly better and easier. They need to put in place a framework, go about it in a transparent manner, and make the performance review a meaningful exercise.

Customer service often suffers from a lack of alignment in terms of performance and goals in an organization. By creating a regular review process, you’ll align yourself better with the company goals, set your team up for success, and end up with a high-performing, happy customer service team.

Tejas Kinger is a Product Marketing Manager at Hiver. Passionate about tech, startups, and all things SaaS. Say hello on Twitter (@TejasKinger).

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