Customer Service – the simple explanation from Wikipedia (here) is that it is “… is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.”
Now regardless of the type of Call (Contact) Centre you run you are always providing Customer Service. You can call the center a NOC (Network Operations Centre) a Technical Service Desk or a Help Desk but regardless of its name, its purpose is the same. The people that make up that team are there to provide a service to your customer and they are there to do it in the most efficient and useful way possible.
The 4 Types
Depending on the stage of the transaction that you customer is, with your organization, they will be dealing with one or more different types of customer service teams. At a high level, they fall into the distribution below:
- Support: Including dealing with account issues (billing information, new account setup, order taking etc…). This team ties closely together with the technical team and often provides a first level support function if it is in their remit.
- Technical Support: More detailed troubleshooting is carried out by this team. Often referred to as “after Sales” Support they ensure that existing customers have a useful and worthwhile service and deal with any problems or issues that they may have.
- Sales & Marketing: Inbound and Outbound sales teams, web chats and email responses. In addition to this, offsite events, telemarketing, surveys, and other events are handled by this group.
- Quality Control: Review of customer interactions and problem analysis. In addition to this, this team would also ensure that the company was compliant with standards in dealing with customers and would perform random audits.
Measure, Do, Act
Now, depending on the type of call center you are running, your first and probably most important starting challenge is determining the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you wish to have in place in your organization.
Once you know what you want to measure and why you can then set about ensuring that you meet, exceed and surpass those requirements in short, medium and long terms. To determine the most important KPI though, you need to know what services are important to your customers so that you can ensure that your teams are in the right place with the right knowledge to provide those answers to your customers to minimize any service disruptions or service impacts.
Once you’ve determined KPIs the next step is determining how you go about achieving and surpassing those requirements. To do this, you need to ensure that you have the right caliber of candidate with the right skill set available and the right tools in place to expedite a speedy resolution for your customers.
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Practice, Practice, Practice
Just like athletes, your staff needs to have the appropriate skills and knowledge to ensure that they are able to resolve your client’s issues as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is via training. This includes initial training – ie. when they first join your company – and ongoing training to ensure that their skills do not get rusty. It is possible to throw them into the deep end and see if they swim, but this is hardly an efficient use of your resources and should be minimized if at all possible.
Appropriate teams and methodologies need to be in place to ensure that information flow and tools are available to your frontline staff so that customers get the appropriate answer as quickly as possible – things like FAQs and Knowledgebases are great, but they need to be kept up to date. You must also ensure that you have a robust and effective system to track customer interactions.
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I am an ITIL Expert and extremely passionate about customer service, customer experience, best practices and process improvement. I have led support, service, help desk and IT teams as well as quality and call center teams in Canada and the UK. I know how to motivate my teams to ensure that they are putting the customer first.