How to Improve Customer Service Productivity
Companies in the U.S. lose approximately $62 billion every year because of poor customer service. And more than 50% of people will never do business with companies who offer a negative experience.
While speed and productivity aren’t the only things that matter when it comes to high-quality support, they have a significant impact.
Want to know a secret? Feeling unappreciated is the #1 thing that pushes customers away. And the best way to make sure they feel appreciated is to respond to every customer inquiry in a timely, friendly, and professional manner.
To do that, you need speed and efficiency. And you need a team equipped with everything they need to be productive. So, to make your productivity dreams an operational reality, we came up with six strategies you can implement to start seeing results… today.
Plus, they all have excellent long-term effects, as well. Are you ready to improve customer service productivity once and for all?
Of course. Who isn’t, right? Let’s get started!
6 Strategies to Boost Customer Service Productivity
Boosting customer service productivity is a long-term game. However, there are specific strategies you can use to start seeing improvements immediately.
#1. Automate and Simplify Your Customer Support Processes
A massive piece of the customer support process relies on human decisions and interaction. However, there are numerous processes you can automate to empower your customer service team to spend their time on the things that matter.
Furthermore, automated systems help reduce customer churn.
Why? Because doing so optimizes the entire customer support experience. And excellent customer experiences turn everyday visitors into loyal, lifetime customers.
The best way to automate and streamline customer service systems is to invest in an operational customer relationship management (CRM) software specifically for customer support.
With the right CRM software, you can:
- Store contact information in one centralized location
- Track interactions to determine what customers already know and who they’ve talked to
- Anticipate customer needs based on their recent actions
- Set up notifications and reminders to follow up at the right time
- Automate your customer service emails
- Set up an autoresponder to nurture customers along the way
- Improve the quality of every customer/agent interaction
- Speed up the entire process
- Systemize repetitive tasks
Furthermore, you can easily set up smart AI technology to route inquiries to the right person so everyone on the team can focus on one thing at a time without having to jump from task to task. Which helps boost customer service productivity right away.
Aside from automation, you can also create a fluid self-service knowledge base to reduce the number of support inquiries altogether. This helps balance your team’s workload while empowering customers to help themselves.
At the end of the day, boosted productivity plus automated processes equals a team that gets more done in less time with fewer resources required to enhance the customer experience.
#2. Provide Adequate Training and Leverage Accountability
Because customer service relies on human decision making, it’s crucial to provide adequate training to your support team. This is an excellent opportunity to teach them everything they need to know to make the right decisions as quickly as possible.
This helps ensure that each customer gets what they need without having to wait long periods of time. It also helps prevent you from having to hire more people to provide a fast response.
Furthermore, you should also provide training in effective communication.
Prolonged customer service interactions tend to happen from misunderstandings and miscommunications. So, your employees must get to the bottom of things as fast as possible. This means doing things like:
- Asking the right questions at the right time
- Listening to everything the customer has to say
- Responding in a friendly, concise, and straightforward manner
- Quickly understanding the root cause of the customer’s problem
- Using critical thinking to solve the problem
- Thinking outside of the box
You may also want to give them the ability to offer discounts, refunds, free product replacements, and more without prior permission. This level of power equips them to quickly make things right without needing to ask someone else if they’re allowed to.
When you allow your team to put customers first, you empower them to quickly solve issues and improve the customer experience.
Source: Unboxed Technology
Proper training may include things like a self-service internal knowledge base, visual communication and design strategies, employee onboarding, checklists, handbooks, online training sessions/courses, or a combination of options for learners of all types.
Plus, once these skills become second nature, your team can get more done in a shorter amount of time. And the longer they practice, the easier it is.
So, be sure to give them the power, education, and skills they need.
#3. Eliminate Distractions and Reward Productivity
One of the easiest ways to improve customer service productivity is to remove distractions from the workplace. Distractions come in all shapes, and eliminating them all is virtually impossible. But you can work to get rid of obvious distractions right away.
You can help empower your employees to resist distractions by:
- Empowering them to set a schedule of when they work on what
- Encouraging them to get enough sleep
- Allowing positive distractions such as music and frequent breaks
- Restricting cell phone use of any kind to breaks
- Keeping the workplace clean and tidy
- Reducing noise in the office
- Setting priorities and discouraging multitasking
- Providing healthy snacks and encouraging a healthy diet
- Implement task batching
Aside from eliminating distractions, you should also recognize productive employees and encourage others to do the same. For example, you could introduce a reward system or create milestones for your team to motivate them to be as productive as possible.
The truth is… employee recognition creates a motivated and engaged workforce. And engaged customer support representatives offer better customer experiences. Plus, they tend to work harder than non-engaged employees.
When you give your team something to work towards while eliminating possible distractions, you create an incredibly productive work environment.
#4. Allow for Workplace Flexibility and Work/Life Balance
Stressed and burnt-out employees are a common problem, especially in today’s environment. Not only that, but chronic stress can also lead to serious physical problems, poor behavior, and lower cognitive performance.
Plus, it’s linked to insomnia, depression, and heightened anxiety.
Furthermore, problems like these cost between $125 and $190 billion in healthcare spending every year in the United States alone. And that’s not to mention the time off required to heal from these serious issues.
So, work/life balance is certainly not something you can afford to ignore.
On top of that, employees who’re happy with their work/life balance statistically work 21% harder than those who aren’t. However, only 16% of employees are satisfied with their current work/life situation.
This means there’s a lot of room for improvement, to say the least.
According to CNN.com, bad bosses, long hours, long commutes, and incompetent colleagues are the leading causes of bad work/life balance. So, these are arguably the best places to start.
Bad bosses and incompetent colleagues can be improved with optimized hiring processes and adequate on-the-job training. However, you should also encourage breaks and limit the number of hours employees are allowed to work every week.
Aside from the leading work/life balance issues, you may also want to consider:
- Offering flexible schedules when possible
- Allowing employees to work from home
- Encouraging frequent vacation days
- Providing exercise and fitness programs
- Onsite childcare or childcare discounts/reimbursements
- Organizing out-of-office activities
- Community engagement opportunities
- Offering top-notch healthcare
- A flexible PTO policy
- Continuous education initiatives
- Team-building exercises
- Flexible unpaid time off
You don’t need to implement everything, but it may help to ask your employees what they’d like to see as part of your work/life balance initiative.
From there, you can evaluate their top priorities and most pressing issues.
#5. Create a Strong Team Culture and Encourage Teamwork
A recent BambooHR study found that companies interested in creating an excellent place to work should focus on:
- Work/life balance
- Effective communication
- Employee recognition
Or otherwise known as the “talent-management trifecta.” As you can see, there’s a reason we touched on all three points of the trifecta. It wasn’t by chance. In fact, it was by design. Why? Because they all lead to a productive, healthy, and motivating work environment.
Furthermore, you’ve probably heard the saying, “happy employees mean happy customers.” It’s cliche, but it’s true. The happier your customer service employees are, the more motivated they are to be productive and provide excellent customer experiences.
Creating a positive work environment also means it’s easier for employees to leave their personal problems at home, giving them more time to focus on doing their job well.
Plus, studies show that happy employees are simply more productive overall.
Source: Neil Patel
On top of a happy workplace, it’s also crucial to encourage teamwork and create a sense of community. Not only is it great for morale, but it also empowers your employees to work together to solve issues, they otherwise wouldn’t be able to on their own.
When employees feel comfortable going to their peers for help, customer support inquires can close faster, thus boosting department-wide productivity.
Furthermore, businesses with connected teams and a strong sense of community demonstrate a 21% increase in profitability.
Why? Because people who’re excited and happy to go to work take fewer days off and tend to do their best day after day. So, not only are teamwork and a positive environment great for productivity purposes, but they’re also excellent for your bottom line.
#6. Use the Right Tools to Boost Productivity
In the first strategy, we talked about automating your processes. However, there are tons of other tools you can use to help improve customer service productivity.
From providing the best laptops to leveraging communication tools and everything in between, the right tools can boost performance and help sustain an excellent work environment today and in the future.
While project management software (we recommend monday.com) is a must-have for customer service teams, you may also want to consider:
- Live chat software with a help desk ticketing system
- Internal communication software (i.e., Slack or instant messaging)
- High-quality, noise-canceling headsets for handling service calls
- Inquiry routing and sorting capabilities
- Canned inquiry responses/templates
- Social media integrations
At the end of the day, the right tool stack can make or break your team’s productivity level. So, it’s crucial to test out different software until you find the right fit.
Furthermore, you may even want to ask your team what their preferences are. They may use and love specific software, which can help you narrow down your decisions. Plus, this makes it easier and motivates them to use the tools you provide daily.
Alternatively, you can create a custom mobile app to boost communication and efficiency, straight from their mobile devices. This could empower them to take calls from their phone and seamlessly help each other from a device they’re already using.
Plus, the top app builders make it easier than ever to build custom applications without any coding required. So, it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
Improving Customer Service Productivity Is a Team Effort
Good customer support relies on inquiry response times and quick decision-making skills. Furthermore, adequate training and the right tools can help you and your team boost productivity to improve the customer experience.
Whether you’re a small team just getting started or you have hundreds of representatives, you can leverage the strategies we talked about to automate, streamline, and improve your customer service department.
Especially if you’re ready to get more done in less time. Plus, your customers, employees, bottom line, and boss will be really glad you did.
What are your favorite productivity hacks for customer support teams?