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Internal Communication Best Practices for Support Teams

Oct 22, 2021
  |  
Collaboration
  |  
7 min read
internal-communication-best-practices

Most customer service teams focus on prepping their agents to communicate in the best way possible with customers. Yet they give little thought to internal communication among agents. But communication–both internal and external–forms the bedrock of customer service. 

Good internal communication helps agents collaborate better, increase employee engagement, stay updated about the brand, and solve customer queries faster. It also helps to maintain a clear and fluid working process from the top down.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at why effective internal communication matters. We’ll also look at how to set up strong internal communication lines among your support team. 

Table of Contents

Top Three Benefits of Internal Communication among Support Teams

Having an effective internal communication strategy helps you improve customer service and coordination between your team. 

Here are the top three benefits of internal communication among support teams: 

Prompt communication helps agents solve queries faster

According to research by PwC, 80% of consumers point to “speed” as one of the most important elements of a positive customer experience.

And to be able to respond to customers fast, you need to quickly rope in the right agent in your customer service team to handle a specific kind of technical query or in some cases, the right department like marketing or finance to handle customer queries specific to those domains. 

Prompt internal communication helps agents route customer queries to the agent or team member best suited to solve them, hence delivering positive experiences for customers

In the absence of robust internal communication, agents take longer to get expert help and delay resolutions. 

internal-communication-best-practices
Importance of speed for a positive customer experience

Internal communication helps your team stay updated

Changes to your customer support policies, company announcements, forthcoming events to train agents, engagement programs, and changes in your team structure and count need to be communicated with your team, so they’re not left in the dark. 

Staying updated about your latest policies as well as changes in the team helps agents better represent your brand and organize their workload. 

Social media too, works as a great tool for announcing company news and other product updates. This will thereby encourage employee communication through the platform.

Internal communication promotes teamwork

Broken internal communication lines lead to poor coordination among agents, lack of trust in the team, and conflicts between teammates. Such a work environment makes it difficult for agents to thrive and can affect company culture.

On the other hand, having a strong internal communication strategy builds trust among teammates, drives better collaboration and leads to fewer misunderstandings. It helps agents build a friendly rapport with one another, which contributes to agent retention and employee satisfaction.

Ultimately, internal communication boosts teamwork and helps your support team provide faster resolutions for customers while working towards company goals.

Internal communication best practices for support teams

Now that you know why internal communication among teams matters, let’s take a look at six best practices for promoting internal communication among support teams: 

Set guidelines around internal communication

To ensure internal communication among your team remains prompt and consistent, you’ll need to set guidelines. These guidelines would be around the usage of tools, minimum time to respond, language to use, internal announcements, and transparency. 

Let’s take a quick look at what these guidelines might look like: 

  • Usage of tools: Which tools will your team use to communicate internally? Your support team may use a chat app like Slack. Or they may communicate directly using their support tool like agents using Hiver do. 
  • Minimum time to respond: How soon are agents supposed to respond to messages from team members? During working hours, you may require agents to respond instantly, while messages received outside working hours may not need a prompt response. 
  • Language: What kind of language are agents permitted to use during internal communication? You may disallow profanity, cursing, and indecent messages on professional tools while allowing casual banter. 
  • Internal announcements: How will you inform agents about new developments and changes? You could send out a weekly or monthly newsletter with updates on headcount, policies, new tools, changes in the brand, and so on. 
  • Using a dashboard: How can your team track progress towards targets? A live data dashboard can keep your teams’ most import metrics visible and constantly front of mind. Here’s a guide to data dashboards from Geckoboard.
  • Transparency: What kind of messages are agents allowed to send publicly and privately? As far as possible, agents should be encouraged to start discussions around common support issues related to your product along with their solutions on your company’s public forums. This ensures maximum transparency, visibility, and customer engagement. Similarly, details regarding specific customer data and requests must be kept private.

Once you’ve set relevant guidelines, document them on an app of your choice and give all agents access to it.  

Leverage internal communication tools

Tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack are a great way for support teams to communicate through voice, video, and chat in real-time. 

Tools like Hiver help customer support teams work closely and solve consumer problems faster. The Notes feature in Hiver allows agents to have private and contextual discussions about customer emails.

If you need an agent’s expertise in solving a customer service problem, simply tag the agent in a Note right next to the customer email thread. They can then view the conversation and jump right in to help. 

Agents can also use the Shared Drafts feature to collaborate and compose the best response for customers. 

The Shared Drafts feature is especially helpful for experienced agents to train and help new agents draft thoughtful responses for complex customer queries. Here’s how it works: agents can type in a response to a customer and instead of hitting Send, save it as a Shared Draft. Other agents can view and edit the draft, and send it to the customer once done. 

Avoid communication overload

While poor communication among support teams hampers collaboration, too much communication frustrates agents too. And this might cause them to ignore internal messages as unimportant. 

Avoid sending too many updates to team members or asking them to respond to every single Slack thread in public channels. Keep work-related communication channels different from other channels that may discuss topics like pets and books. Thus, employees can only opt into channels they want to. 

Hiver’s Email Notes feature is another way to avoid cluttering your teammates’ inbox with additional emails. Each time you want to send an update related to an email or want to ask employees for a status update, simply leave a note alongside that email. Everyone included in the email thread can see it. 

Avoid long email threads and streamline communication without overloading your team’s inbox. 

internal-communication-best-practices
Use Hiver’s Email Notes to add more context while assigning emails

Encourage cross-functional collaboration

Customer support requests are an excellent source of feedback and insights from customers that can improve your product, marketing, and other functions. To help teams like marketing and product benefit from customer support feedback, encourage communication between these departments too. 

While most helpdesks can be silos, where customer feedback is trapped in support tickets and never reaches other teams, a helpdesk like Hiver makes support insights accessible to all teams. 

Since Hiver is built on top of Gmail, it’s easy to tag and rope in members from teams like product and marketing on customer support requests. Simply use an @mention and they can view the support history. 

Whether agents need help from other teams to answer a customer request or they simply want to share a specific piece of feedback, Hiver makes cross-functional collaboration a piece of cake. 

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Stats proving the importance of collaboration for teams

Provide feedback on employees’ internal communication skills

Regular feedback helps employees improve their internal communication skills. 

During your weekly or monthly one-on-ones with team members, be sure to provide them with feedback on the following: 

  • The employee’s ability to collaborate effectively with managers and other team members
  • Their ability to listen and respond to information received
  • Their ability to use internal communication tools properly
  • Their ability to plan and organize internal meetings such as a video conference between customer service managers and representatives

Just as you train agents on how to communicate with customers, train them on how to communicate well internally too. 

Measure the impact of internal communication on customer service

When measuring the success of customer service in an organization, most teams brush aside the importance of an internal communication strategy among the support team and simply focus on external communication with customers. However, internal communication indirectly affects customer service performance too. 

As your internal communication improves, so does your customer service performance, and hence metrics like response and resolution times, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Scores (CES). 

Take a look at different customer service metrics like CSAT and response times to gauge if your internal communication could be a problem. Make changes to internal communication processes if needed, and measure its impact on your metrics after a few months. 

internal-communication-best-practices
Track Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) using this scale

Wrapping up

Internal communication helps agents do their job better behind the scenes. So, your customer support can wow customers each time they reach out. 

To establish consistent internal communication among your team, first, set up firm guidelines around how and where agents should communicate with each other. Leverage the right tools to streamline successful internal communication. If possible, provide regular feedback on employees’ internal communication skills and review internal communication processes to find areas of improvement. 

The stronger your internal communication, the better your customer support.

Hiver HQ
Farheen Gani is a content marketer and writer for SaaS companies. She helps businesses grow with customer-focused content. She loves geeking out about content marketing on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FarheenGani) and her blog (https://www.farheenganiwrites.com/blog/).
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