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How To Build and Organize Customer Support Teams

How To Build and Organize Customer Support Teams

Aug 18, 2022
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7 min read
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Hiver HQ
Ganesh Mukundan
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Did you know that Sainsbury’s renamed their Tiger Bread to Giraffe Bread in 2011? This was after receiving a letter from a 3-year-old, Lily Robinson, who suggested the change.

The story went viral when Chris King from Sainsbury’s customer service team wrote back to her, “I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it?”

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The letter exchange between Sainsbury’s and the kid | BBC

Not only did it catch a lot of attention and turn into a viral sensation, but this innocent interaction also transpired actual change for customer delight. Thanks to their excellent customer service, Sainsbury seemed to have found a loyal and happy customer for life.

Customer support teams are seen as the problem-solving mechanism of a company. That’s not entirely true though. Support teams have a knack for wearing more than one hat at a time. They play their part at almost all stages of a customer’s journey, from new customer onboarding, building rapport with them, listening to them, resolving customer issues, and adding value at every opportunity they get. Support teams are in many ways an organization’s frontline advocates and go-to experts.

They are also responsible for humanizing a company and creating affinity with its customers and clients. They have front-row access to audiences’ sentiments and opinions about a company. This allows them to report back with inferences that facilitate change, and ultimately lead to customer satisfaction.

A good customer service team has the power to turn customers into allies and on-ground custodians. Interactions with customers play a subtle but crucial role in opening doors for new revenue streams. According to a new Gartner survey, 64% of Customer Service and Support leaders will direct their focus to business growth in 2022. This rapid growth plan makes it evident that every organization needs a great customer support and service team, now more than ever. 

So, whether this is your first attempt at building a customer support team as a startup or you’re planning to organize your team, here are a few pointers to keep handy.

Table of Contents

Hiring the right people

When you’re building a team from scratch it may seem like a colossal undertaking. However, it is a great opportunity to define a standard for customer experience and hire people whose skills, qualifications, and professional attributes seem most aligned with that. 

Another crucial factor to consider is your employee turnover. This is because retaining quality employees has a significant impact on maintaining the quality of service. Due to the high costs of training programs for new employees, a systematic hiring and training plan is a must-have. Thus, paying close attention to the rate of turnover and the cost of turnover is important if you want to manage those numbers and increase headcount. 

Empower your team with training and upskilling programs

While customer support demands a reactive approach most of the time, a good rep needs to be resourceful. They should know how to offer creative solutions in unpredictable scenarios. This solidifies the need to invest time and resources in training support teams.

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Shep Hyken on the importance of customer service training

Companies should provide regular upskilling programs and workshops to their support teams in order to regulate the quality of customer interactions and help them build strong customer relationships. They need to be armed with an encyclopedia of information so that they are not just confident but also accurate in their service to meet their customer’s needs. Refreshing their skill set and updating them on new developments in industry standards will help them stay relevant in their field. Such employee benefits create loyalty and custodianship within the company and promote a sense of mutual benefit.

Here are a couple of dos and don’ts of hiring and training.

Do: Define a clear vision and mission statement for your company.

A clear vision really helps to narrow down the search for the right team. You can identify candidates who associate with your company’s identity. Even while training it’s good to induct your employees into the company culture. It will help them represent you with conviction. 

Don’t: Never follow predefined templates.

It’s easy to follow standards that have been set by the industry, be it who to hire, how to hire, and what job expectations to set. However, you have the freedom to define a template that is customized for you. So go ahead and hire people whose skills matter to your company or create a job description that suits your vision of the company.

Foster a culture of transparency and trust

Build transparency and trust right from the start. Staying in touch with your customer service agents will keep them invested and motivated at the same time. They should have a clear and deep understanding of who the leaders are, what they stand for, and what are the core company values, goals, and missions.

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Roger Staubach on the importance of trust and transparency in a company

Most companies create team activities and events just to ensure that employees get opportunities to connect and create dynamic relationships amongst themselves. What might seem like a regular team-outing is in fact a tactful initiative by HR. Keeping employee morale high and having positive working relationships creates a more productive work environment.

Enabling a collaborative and positive work environment can be as easy as having a recreation room where employees can take a break and interact more casually. On the other hand, creating a larger internal event will infuse some excitement in the company and jolt the employees out of their daily rut. 

Creating a sense of healthy competition within the teams will also accelerate their performance. That’s why many organizations have incentivized events such as;

  • Awards for best performances in various categories.
  • Competitive hackathons with lucrative rewards for the winners.
  • Creative workshops that simply allow employees to let loose and take a break from competition.

However, in a post-covid world, work culture has seen a massive change. In a new hybrid work environment where most employees are still working partially from home, it’s more difficult to maintain an employee-company bond. Therefore, HR and team leaders should revise their team-building strategies accordingly. Creating a digital ecosystem to connect, interact, and collaborate with team members would prove to be a good idea.

Let’s take new employees’ onboarding for instance. An online event management tool would be a great way to connect and engage with new employees during their onboarding process. Welcome is one such event marketing tool. It helps you create and host high-quality virtual events. Instead of a mundane presentation about the company, you could host a virtual event with all the necessary attendees in an exciting and interactive manner. Welcome has many support features that make hosting exciting events more effortless.

How to choose the right tool for Support Teams

Considering the advancement of today’s digital marketplaces and other online experiences, customers in 2022 demand nothing short of quick, convenient, and consistent. To be able to meet the expectations of such customers, companies should invest in software and tools that make the highly-demanding jobs of support teams a little easier and a lot more efficient.

Customer support software is currently one of the leading and fastest-growing segments in the CRM software market, which itself is the largest in all software markets. However, companies should revisit their team management approach to accommodate the new hybrid work system and pick a tool appropriately. Let’s discuss the type of tools and the factors to consider while choosing one for your support team.

Let’s break this into a checklist of three – 

  • Track Tickets

Choose software that helps you listen to your customers carefully and never lets anything slip past you.

  • Organize and Assign

The software should be able to organize, delegate, and track the progress of incoming support requests. It should also enable cross-collaboration.

  • Analytics

Most importantly, it should be able to analyze customer interactions and create actionable data to improve customer experiences.

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Factors to consider while choosing customer support software

For example, Hiver is a helpdesk tool that enhances customer service performance with seamless integration into Gmail. All customer support agents are aligned on every task, and leaders can easily assign and track customer tickets all within Gmail. It further simplifies daily tasks by automating repeatable processes, enabling cross-collaborations, analyzing and offering actionable data about your support quality, and helping evaluate your entire team’s performance.

Tools for overall productivity

Generally speaking, not specific to support teams, there are some amazing choices in the software market to add efficiency and productivity to your team. Here’s a curated list of tools based on various needs and team functions.

1. Organization and Management Tools

An ideal tool should be able to organize incoming tasks, delegate assignments, and track progress and performance metrics all in one app.

ProofHub

ProofHub has a comprehensive suite of collaboration and project management functions. You can easily organize files, plan, ideate, and track projects in collaboration with other team members. You can even review and approve files with their proofing tool.

Asana

Asana is a great tool for planning and managing tasks. It’s like the swiss knife of to-do tools. It is widely used by companies as a project management tool. It allows you to assign and manage tasks while also monitoring deadlines and team performance.

2. Communication and Collaboration Tools

Corporates have always used communication and collaboration tools to make the workflow smooth and efficient. However, due to the physical distance between employees in these work-from-home times, these tools have emerged at the top of every organization’s wishlist.

Slack

Slack is a very popular platform and offers a range of features that improve collaboration and teamwork. Employees can communicate via instant messaging, share files, and monitor tasks assigned to one another. What makes it so popular is its ability to go mobile with an app for both iPhones and Androids.

ClickUp

ClickUp is a chat-based, collaboration and management tool. It helps teams stay connected in real-time by displaying various projects and teams working on them. You can tag individuals or an entire team, leave comments, link files, add further details, upload media, and the whole gamut.

3. File and Resource Sharing Tools

Another great way to build a culture of transparency, which is invariably useful for the employees as well as the company, is to create a shared knowledge base. Individual projects, learnings, experiences, and research material should be stored in a common place. This way, co-workers and leaders can access them easily. There’s no better way to create trust than by creating a free flow of information.

Currently, the most popular ones are Dropbox, Box.com, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. They offer infinite gigabytes and can even go up to terabytes of data in the form of a cloud repository. It’s effortless for everyone to stay in the loop.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, customer service is not a one-time effort. It continues to evolve with the market, the customers, new teams, and new learnings. Although your customer support standard and core principles will remain constant, at some point you might add new support channels, set new goals, come up with new customer service strategies, and even introduce new software and tools.

The focus should always be on the company’s process and core principles, because people and teams may change, but that should never affect the quality of experience. That is the ultimate and the long-term goal of hiring and building great customer service teams.

SaaS enthusiast who also happens to rap, play football, binge watch Nordic TV shows, and indulge in conversations about burgers and existentialism.

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