By Robert LeCount
Let’s face it. People no longer want to deal with outsourced customer service representatives who are difficult to understand, follow a set script or really don’t care about solving problems. In fact, “U.S. enterprises lose an estimated $83 billion each year due to defections and abandoned purchases as a direct result of poor customer services, and 63 percent of customers leave a company and go to its competitor,” per a 2012 Infographic by Parature, a customer service software company.
Because of this, many businesses are improving their customer-service practices to increase sales and provide a better online experience. But in order to support customer needs on a worldwide basis 24 hours a day, it’s essential to use technology combined with the human touch.
This means that your IT staff members need to work closely with your customer service representatives. How do you get these teams working together to provide the best results possible and give your customers what they want? Here are six tips that will help.
1. Employ the right people.
I truly believe first and foremost you need to employ quality people who take the time to understand your brand and the importance of getting to know your customers. Instead of rushing through the hiring process, take the time to find qualified people who believe in your products and services and are willing to work with others to meet company goals.
Experience is obviously important, but it’s also essential to hire people who have a positive attitude. After all, if they show negativity at a job interview, how are they going to treat customers and fellow team members?
At Rich Dad, we take it one step further and have all new employees take the Kolbe Index. This enables us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each new hire and where that individual is most likely to excel within the organization.
2. Clarify responsibilities.
All team members should have a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. There are certain things that customer service is able to handle and others that will need the help of your IT department. Understanding that line is depends on good communication.
It may be helpful to create an organizational chart stating job titles, responsibilities and contact information. This provides an easy “cheat sheet” for everyone in your organization to know who does what. By writing it down, you can help avoid potential questions and conflicts about responsibilities.
3. Meet regularly.
If you haven’t already done so, set up weekly or monthly meetings between your IT and customer service management teams to discuss reoccurring issues, new initiatives, company goals, etc. This process will help build team relationships and solve problems, while establishing trust. That’s essential to sharing problems, identifying ways to improve the overall customer experience, and giving team members confidence in one another’s ability to deliver quick, effective solutions.
Just be sure to create a positive meeting environment—one in which people feel comfortable expressing their opinions, asking questions and giving feedback without reprimand.
4. Monitor and record analytics.
Analytics and logs are critical troubleshooting tools. We use them to help identify reoccurring issues that our customer service department reports. Review this data to see what’s really going on with your customers and sales, and discuss it at your regular meetings. Take action to make improvements, and monitor the analytics again to see what’s working and what isn’t.
5. Integrate communications.
Customer service is not just about helping customers via phone, in-person and online. Today, potential customers look at all aspects of a company. That’s why it’s important to integrate social media, video, podcasts and all the touch points you have with customers into the mix. Be sure to monitor all of your communications, discuss them with team members and integrate this information into your company strategies.
6. Use the right tools.
Lastly, don’t forget to use the appropriate tools to provide the best customer service possible. The right technology is vital to improving the customer experience. Because of this, be sure that your teams keep up with the latest technology and use reliable phone and email systems, some sort of case management tool for logging issues, reporting systems, user management tools for resetting passwords and activating accounts, and any other software or hardware solution that fits your particular needs.
Providing great customer service is essential to business success, but how can you reach company goals if your IT team members are not talking to the customer service representatives? If you are not already doing so, take action to work together and open the lines of communication.
While it may be difficult to get people talking at first, your initiatives will pay off in the long run with excellent service your customers will tell their friends about.
Robert LeCount is the director of information technology for Rich Dad, a brand based on Robert Kiyosaki’s best-seller Rich Dad Poor Dad. The company offers a new way to think about money and investing. He can be reached at [email protected].