HOW TO SETUP CUSTOMER SUPPORT DEPARTMENT FROM SCRATCH

Building a customer service department is much like building a bookshelf. There isn’t one set of instructions, but without some strategy, things can (and will) fall apart at the worst possible time. If you prefer to offer a solid, reliable and efficient level of customer service from your support team, it’s best to follow a plan (and preferably one that isn’t just a friendly cartoon man pointing at unidentifiable things).

Whether you’re starting a support department from scratch or you’ve been managing a team for a while and want to ensure it is structured to succeed, these seven building blocks make for a solid foundation.

1. Define ‘great customer service’ for your company

Nearly every company claims to provide great customer service, but not all customers have a great experience, so clearly there’s opportunity for improvement. It starts with the definition of great

When building a support department, you need to define the quality of service you will provide and include your entire team in crafting that definition. Once you have defined for your company what great service is, you have a standard against which to measure your support team. So how do you define great customer service?

Consistently exceed customer expectations

If you want to stand out from your competitors, consistently exceed your customers’ expectations.

What are the typical response times in your industry and of your biggest competitors? How can you beat that? What level of service are your prospective customers used to, and how can you repeatedly improve on their expectations to delight them over time? When you think in this way, you establish your company’s unique definition of great service that others will then have to compete against.

2. Decide which channels to support

When you’re committed to providing great customer service, it is tempting to say, We’ll be available on every channel all the time! But small teams can’t necessarily provide consistently great support across all possible channels 24/7. It’s far better to provide quality customer support on a few channels than to spread your team too thin and give inconsistent service.

So how do you choose which channels your support team will monitor?

Find out what your customers are using

Look at what your existing customers naturally gravitate toward, and do some research on your target audience as well to make sure you are available on the platforms they are already using. Do your customers contact you primarily by email, or is phone support the standard for your product or service type? Perhaps social media is an important channel for your audience; find out which platforms are most popular and start by supporting only the top one or two.

Make the call

Different products and services fit more naturally with different support channels. Technical support is often best done over email, but it can be frustrating on the phone. Live chat is fantastic for retail products like clothing or banking where back and forth discussion with a knowledgeable agent is often required. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding which channels you support.

Building a customer service department is much like building a bookshelf. There isn’t one set of instructions, but without some strategy, things can (and will) fall apart at the worst possible time. If you prefer to offer a solid, reliable and efficient level of customer service from your support team, it’s best to follow a plan (and preferably one that isn’t just a friendly cartoon man pointing at unidentifiable things).

Whether you’re starting a support department from scratch or you’ve been managing a team for a while and want to ensure it is structured to succeed, these seven building blocks make for a solid foundation.

1. Define ‘great customer service’ for your company

Nearly every company claims to provide great customer service, but not all customers have a great experience, so clearly there’s opportunity for improvement. It starts with the definition of great

When building a support department, you need to define the quality of service you will provide and include your entire team in crafting that definition. Once you have defined for your company what great service is, you have a standard against which to measure your support team. So how do you define great customer service?

Consistently exceed customer expectations

If you want to stand out from your competitors, consistently exceed your customers’ expectations.

What are the typical response times in your industry and of your biggest competitors? How can you beat that? What level of service are your prospective customers used to, and how can you repeatedly improve on their expectations to delight them over time? When you think in this way, you establish your company’s unique definition of great service that others will then have to compete against.

2. Decide which channels to support

When you’re committed to providing great customer service, it is tempting to say, We’ll be available on every channel all the time! But small teams can’t necessarily provide consistently great support across all possible channels 24/7. It’s far better to provide quality customer support on a few channels than to spread your team too thin and give inconsistent service.

So how do you choose which channels your support team will monitor?

Find out what your customers are using

Look at what your existing customers naturally gravitate toward, and do some research on your target audience as well to make sure you are available on the platforms they are already using. Do your customers contact you primarily by email, or is phone support the standard for your product or service type? Perhaps social media is an important channel for your audience; find out which platforms are most popular and start by supporting only the top one or two.

Make the call

Different products and services fit more naturally with different support channels. Technical support is often best done over email, but it can be frustrating on the phone. Live chat is fantastic for retail products like clothing or banking where back and forth discussion with a knowledgeable agent is often required. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding which channels you support.

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