More and more companies are looking to differentiate themselves with exceptional customer service and support. In fact, a recent Forrester report found that customer service is a top priority for 72% of companies.
If your company is looking to improve its customer service, but you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. The CX team at Zendesk has helped thousands of companies reimagine their customer service experiences—from the world’s largest enterprises to the scrappiest of startups. Let’s dive into a few of our top tips.
There have never been more powerful and creative ways to delight customers with seamless, personalized support. But with dozens of customer service products and solutions options available, how do companies confidently approach implementing new systems across their organization, augmenting their existing solutions, or understanding the efficacy of their programs?
When done properly, implementing a world-class support solution can empower customer service teams to deliver superhuman service, better understand their customers, and keep happy customers happy. But when implemented and managed poorly, introducing new systems or changing existing tools can create chaos within an organization, resulting in a negative customer experience.
In order to effectively deploy exceptional customer service solutions, there are five key phases of implementation that every company should consider: identifying the problem, implementing the solution, training the team, optimizing over time, and deploying new tools.
Let’s take a look at best practices for each of these phases:
Identify the problem: Listen to your customers
Before implementing a new customer service solution or changing an existing one, a company should start by diving deep into the unique needs of its customers.
It’s critical to first understand which support channels are most important to a company’s customers. How do they currently interact with the company? Do they prefer to connect on the phone, through email, on social media, via live chat, or in self-service channels like knowledge bases and message boards?
Additionally, it’s a good idea to consider the most common issues that require support. Do customers have high-volume, easy-to-resolve transactional questions, or do they require deep technical expertise? Are issues typically resolved by the support agent or do they require input across multiple teams within the organization? What other tools and systems will the solution need to interoperate with?
This is also the right time to assess the key performance indicators that a team will use to measure itself—whether it’s response time, average handle time, customer satisfaction scores, or other internal metrics specific to the company.
Understanding where customers are and what they expect is the key to building the right solution.
Align your organization, then implement the solution
The old expression “measure twice, cut once” rings true when implementing any solution. Taking the time to have a clear vision for the end result, and a detailed plan for implementing the solution will ultimately save your business time and money.
It’s important to quickly align your organization around an implementation plan. This will allow the team to work across various functions, mobilize the right resources, establish agreed-upon timelines, and create internal workflows to keep the most important stakeholders informed of progress, priorities, and issues over the course of the project.
To speed up implementation and drive advocacy, it’s often helpful to establish an executive sponsor. An executive sponsor demonstrates that the company has a vested interest in a project and can assist in promoting organization-wide adoption. An engaged executive sponsor can also help communicate the vision and the “why” for what the team is doing, help break down silos, and make important decisions that affect the organization as a whole.
Train your team
When a team is ready to deploy their new customer service and support tools, it’s important to factor in adoption. A company will want its agents not only to accept a new tool, but fall in love with its functionality. And this often is a function of how a support team is introduced to the new system. Agents should be fully engaged and trained on the new technology before launch, rather than being forced to master new workflows on the fly in a live environment. Many companies opt to do this in a sandbox environment.
With training and early exposure to the new tools, agents will understand that they’re driving toward an enhanced agent experience. This will help them embrace new features, see the value of the change, and act as evangelists for the rest of the company. Teams that don’t do training upfront miss a critical window for capturing buy-in from their most important adopters.
Optimize over time
Too often, companies look at launching their solution as the finish line. The team should take a moment to celebrate a job well done, but launching a new solution is when the real work often begins.
It’s critical for teams to constantly be testing, measuring, and optimizing their solution over time so it continues to grow and evolve with their business. By regularly investing in their solutions over time, many teams are not only able to deliver an even higher caliber of service to their customers on a day-to-day basis, but defend themselves from waking up to find themselves with an out-of-date solution that needs a complete overhaul.
Deploy new tools
After launching a customer support and service solution, many companies identify new functionality they want to add. This could be for a number of reasons: maybe user behavior has changed, there was an oversight in the original implementation, or there’s a desire to simply offer more options for customers. Whatever the motivation, implementing changes and adding functionality often involves one or more online marketplaces.
Marketplaces offer a wealth of tools and solutions but can be complex and overwhelming. They are typically created to serve companies of many different sizes and use cases across dozens of different industries, so it’s important for companies to know exactly what their requirements are before shopping for different solutions. It is at this moment when much of the upfront work about understanding customer needs, and assessing how the solution will fit into a company’s existing infrastructure will begin to pay dividends.
Deploying an exceptional customer service solution can be a complex process, but with thoughtful planning and methodical processes, any company can delight their customers with world-class support. Want to learn more about deploying a world-class customer service solution? The Zendesk customer experience team can help.