Customer support is a vital aspect of any business, and a well-functioning customer support team can mean the difference between a satisfied customer and one that will not return, but building a high-performing customer support team is not easy. It requires careful planning, thoughtful hiring, and ongoing development. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of developing a customer support team that exceeds your company’s expectations.
What is a support team?
A support team is a group of individuals who provide assistance to a company’s customers or clients.
This assistance can take many forms, such as answering questions, resolving problems, or providing information. Support teams can be found in a wide range of industries, including technology, healthcare, and retail. They may interact with customers via phone, email, chat, or even interact with customers in person.
Support teams are often an essential part of a business. They play a critical role in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty. A well-functioning support team can also help a business as well as identify and address any issues that may be impacting customer satisfaction. Overall, a support team is a vital component of any organization that aims to provide excellent customer service.
If your company is growing, you may be interested in building a customer support team in order to better support your customers and further your company’s goals. But how should you get started?
Steps to Building a High-Performing Customer Support Team
Step 1: Define Your Goals
Before you begin building your customer support team, it will be important to define the goals for your company. What kind of support do you want to provide? What are your customers' needs and expectations? What are your overall business objectives? Once you have a clear understanding of your goals for your customer support team, you can start to develop a strategy for achieving them.
These goals should be SMART meaning they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You should develop these goals for your entire customer support team as well as encourage your customer support agents to set SMART goals for themselves. This will be useful to your employees by giving them goals to strive for as well as giving customer service managers measures that they can use to assess employees during reviews.
Step 2: Assess Your Staffing Needs
Assessing how many staff you need for a new customer support team can be a challenging task. However, there are a few key factors to consider when determining the appropriate number of staff members that you should hire for your inaugural customer support team:
- The volume of customer inquiries: How many customer inquiries do you expect to receive? Look at both historical data and projections.
- Staffing ratios: Another way to determine the number of staff members you need is to look at staffing ratios. You should compare the number of customers to the number of staff members. One way to look at this is to measure the customer contacts per hour or contacts per staff member.
- Availability of staff: You should also consider the availability of your staff members, the work schedule that you would like them to keep, and the time period of the customer service (are the average interactions you have with your customers long or short). Does your company need to provide round-the-clock customer service access or can you get away with only offering customer service availability during 9-5 hours?
- Scalability: Finally, it's important to consider scalability when determining how many staff members you need. The number of staff members required may change as your customer base grows, so it's important to have a plan in place for how you will handle the increased volume. For example, will your budget allow you to hire additional staff members later on if needed?
Step 3: Hire the Right People
The next step to creating a high-performing customer support team is to hire the right people. When looking for customer support team members, it's important to consider not just their qualifications but also their attitude and personality. In my experience, it can be easy to be wowed by an employee with a great resume, but they might not be a good attitude match for a customer service position. Personality is one of the most important traits to consider when hiring for a customer support position. Ultimately, you want people who are empathetic, patient, and able to think on their feet. In addition, look for individuals with excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. Great communication skills will be crucial for your customer support team members when they are communicating with your customers as poor customer service skills will reflect poorly upon you.
Step 4: Provide Comprehensive Training
Once you've hired your team, it's essential to provide them with the comprehensive training that they will need to succeed. This should include not only product knowledge but also customer service skills, such as active listening and problem-solving. In addition, it's important to give your team members the tools and resources they need to succeed. Your new team members will feel more comfortable when interacting with customers if they know where to find information or what resources to use even when they don’t know the answer to a customer’s inquiry if they know where to find the information that they need.
You can read more about providing training for your customer service agents here.
Step 5: Establish Performance Metrics
To ensure that your customer support team is performing well, it's important to establish performance metrics. These metrics should be based on your goals and should be used to measure things like response time, customer satisfaction, and problem resolution. By regularly monitoring these metrics, you'll be able to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as needed.
Some examples of metrics that you may use to assess the effectiveness of your new support team include:
- First response time: How quickly the team is able to respond to a customer's initial inquiry? When a customer calls, for example, you do not want them waiting on hold for an extended amount of time for an agent to answer.
- Resolution time: How long it takes for the team to fully resolve a customer's issue or question? Customers often do not want to wait an extended time for their problem to be resolved so this metric is critical.
- Customer satisfaction rate: The percentage of customers who report being satisfied with the support they received. A higher customer satisfaction rate will win over customers and keep them returning.
- Repeat contact rate: The percentage of customers who reach out to the support team more than once for the same issue. This can be frustrating to customers to have to follow up repeatedly for support so this number will ideally be as low as possible.
- Average handle time: The amount of time it takes for a support team member to handle a customer inquiry from start to finish. If this number is too high, you may want to consider providing your support team with better tools to better meet the customer’s needs.
- Close rate: The percentage of customer inquiries that are successfully resolved and closed. Ideally, you should strive for this number to be as close to 100% as possible.
- Escalation rate: The percentage of customer inquiries that are escalated to higher-level support. This number can give you a good idea if you need to provide better training for your agents or if you can somehow re-route these inquiries to not take as much of your support team’s resources.
- Agent availability: The percentage of time that support team members are available to handle customer inquiries. If this number is too high, you may not need as many support team members, but if it is too low, you may need to expand your support team so that your team members have time to do things like training or follow up on ongoing issues.
Step 6: Encourage Ongoing Development
Finally, it's important to encourage ongoing development for your customer support team members. This can include things like providing opportunities for professional development, such as training, mentoring, or the ability to travel to industry conferences, as well as encouraging them to share their knowledge and ideas with their colleagues.
Building a high-performing customer support team requires careful planning, thoughtful hiring, and ongoing development and analysis to ensure that your team is developing correctly. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you'll be well on your way to developing a team that exceeds expectations and keeps your customers happy. Your new customer support team will ultimately allow your company to be successful and grow.