5 Ways to Keep Your Customer Support Team Productive

Sawaram Suthar
Sawaram Suthar  |  October 23, 2018

Running a business without tangible results is a waste of scarce resources.

Employees are hired in the workplace to drive productivity. However, it takes the collective efforts of both employers and employees to attain desired success.

Productivity in customer service and support can be measured by the impact of your service on customers. In a study conducted by Bain & Company, 80 percent of companies are confident that their customer service is superior.

However, the majority of customers have a different opinion, as only 8 percent of them agree. It is either these companies are unaware of the realities or feigning ignorance.

A NewVoiceMedia research states that companies in the U.S. lost an estimated $62 billion to poor customer service in 2016. Such a huge loss can be prevented by building an efficient support team.

How to keep your customer support team productive

Here are 5 Ways to Keep Your Customer Support Team Productive:

1. Do not multitask

Research conducted at Stanford University shows that multitasking kills the human brain by lowering IQ. It creates an illusion of increased productivity and time management. You think that engaging in multiple activities at the same time gives better results, as opposed to engaging in just one.

A multitasking report published by the American Psychological Association debunks that assertion, revealing that multitasking is counterproductive. Switching tasks sends mixed signals to the brain, slowing down its speed.

For example, when you are talking on the phone and typing on your computer at the same time, your typing speed reduces, as you try to separate what you are typing from what you are saying. You might end up mixing things up.

Ways to avoid multitasking:

  • Prioritize activities: When faced with multiple tasks, there is the pressure to get everything done at once. All tasks may be important, but on different levels. Learn how to prioritize by creating a priority list, and stick to it.

  • Set boundaries: Focusing is easier said than done, especially when there are many distractions. Research shows that emails, social media and the internet are major distractions in the workplace. Employees are regularly checking things online at the detriment of the work they are paid to do.

  • Finish before starting: Leaving work halfway done and moving on to other tasks litters your desk. Abandoned projects slow workflow. Support agents can reduce the number of customers on the queue by completing one order before taking up another. For more resources on avoiding multitasking, learn how to work smarter, not harder in the workplace.

2. Use tools to make work easier

Smart work makes hard work easier. Using the right customer service software enables support team personnel to render optimal services.

According to a NetCall study, one in 10 customers look elsewhere if businesses do not respond to their complaints the first time. Digital technology fine-tunes work processes. It is more productive to use a digital knowledge base of support issues to provide a solution to customer inquiries than flipping through bulky sheets of paper.

Tools to simplify customer support include:

  • Live chat: An eMarketer report reveals that 63 percent of customers return to websites with live chat software. Gone are the days when businesses wait for customers to reach out. Now, they are proactive by reaching out to customers before the customers look for help. Live chat analytics can also be used to create a better customer experience. It gives insights on support performance, customer satisfaction level, and frequently rising concerns.
  • Co-browsing: The average customer may know the basics of finding their way around a site, but when things get a little complex, they get stuck. In fact, 83 percent of customers admit that they need assistance during their online buying journeys. Ineffective communication is a barrier to a smooth customer support. Co-browsing allows agents to access customers' web screen. Both of them get to be on the same page. Rather than relying on the customer for information, the agent gets the information firsthand and takes it up from there. Apart from the fast resolution this provides, the customer is also empowered to solve such a problem if it arises again.

3. Encourage employee engagement

In an Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact report, only one in three workers in the U.S strongly agree that they are recognized for their good work at the workplace.

Support agents and customers enjoy mutually stimulating interactions when there is emotional convergence. These agents drive the conversation and are able to engage customers on that level when they are motivated.

Ways to encourage employee engagement:

  • Acknowledge employee value: Employees are the most valuable assets to an organization. Make them see this by appreciating their efforts. Overwhelmed by pressures in the workplace, there is the tendency to undermine employee inputs. Doing this is like shooting yourself in the foot; you are the one who will suffer the pain.
  • Build a conducive working environment: Unhappy employees make 60 percent more errors than their happy colleagues. A conducive working environment is one that is favorable to the mental, emotional, and physical health of those who occupy it. Negative energy in the workplace hinders efficiency. BusinessWire reports that workers dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor have 80 percent chance of being disengaged. They are unmotivated and do not take the initiative to do extraordinary things. There is very little employees can do when needed resources are not available. Play your own part by making provision for these, and save them the stress of coming across as incompetence. Create opportunities for career growth by engaging them in professional courses and training.
  • Give them a break: Taking breaks in between work may seem counterintuitive. This is based on one of the productivity misconceptions that keeping busy increases productive. Research shows that 95 percent of human resource managers complain that burnout makes their workforce less productive.

4. Empower team members

A problem can only be completely solved when the person in charge is empowered. About 32 percent of customer agents say they do not have sufficient knowledge about customer inquiries. It makes one wonder what exactly they are doing in their positions. Plus, with the growing power of customer voice, there is so much at stake with an incompetent team.

Having support representatives that are not empowered to offer solutions to customers is as good as having none. The longer the steps to a resolution are, the more ineffective your services become.

Ways to empower support agents:

  • Build expertise via specialization: Specialization increases productivity. Empower support agents to showcase their expertise by assigning them to different areas of specialization. By doing this, everyone is engaged in doing what they know how to do best. Break down support categories and delegate tasks to qualified personnel. Passing customers through several agents is a waste of time and an indication that the help they seek is not within reach. Make use of advanced technologies, such as chatbots to streamline customer interactions to agents who are experts in given areas.
  • Give them the authority to make decisions: Most customer issues are not rocket science – they can be solved in a few minutes. But agents are sometimes restrained from offering solutions due to workplace hierarchyFor example, a customer reaches out to complain about an overbilling on their account. The account history shows that said overbilling was actually done. Rather than revert it, the agent requests for time to get permission from a superior before doing the needful. Days turn to weeks, and the issue is still pending. Instead, authorize support representatives to act swiftly upon verification of customer complaints.

5. Create a culture of accountability

In a Workplace Accountability Study, 85 percent of respondents state that they do not clearly understand the top three-to-four key results of their organization.

Everyone likes the idea of success, but just a few have the enthusiasm to do the work. Humans, by nature, prefer to take the easy route.

When you give your support team agents the freehand to work at their convenience and own terms, you create room for procrastination. They will choose the easiest tasks and shy away from the more difficult ones – thereby, stalling the workflow.

Holding them accountable for their actions spurs them to be productive.

Ways to create a culture of accountability:

  • Set quantifiable goals: Hold employees accountable by setting quantifiable goals that have to be met. For example, one of your quantifiable goals may be to, “Reduce customer dissatisfaction rate by 5 percent by the end of the third quarter.” Such a goal is very attainable if customers are determined to achieve it.
  • Create an execution plan: Employees may not understand how to attain set goals. Rather than let them figure it out, which may not turn out well, collaborate with them in identifying practical ways to achieve them.

Conclusion

Sustainable growth is hardly accidental. It’s a product of thoughtful thinking and planning. Building a product support team entails putting the seemingly little things in perspective. When there are no loopholes, every drop counts for something.

Channeling efforts toward becoming customer-centric fastens the process. Measure performance through feedback. And remember, support agents are motivated to work harder knowing that their contributions are yielding positive results.

Sawaram Suthar
Author

Sawaram Suthar

Sawaram Suthar is head of marketing at Acquire and a founder of Jagat Media. As a digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions, and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune.