Avoid these common pitfalls

As a manager, you devote a lot of time to perfecting the customer service experience. However, you could be sabotaging your own efforts by failing to avoid common mistakes when working with your customer service team. Take a quick look: are any of these mistakes occurring at your company?

Mistake #1: Understaffing your call center

You expect your call center team to deliver the highest level of service on the phone. Your representatives need to develop rapport with customers, gather the correct information to set your field employees up for success, and share with the customer why your company is the best choice for their home service needs. All of that takes time. If your call center is understaffed, your team will shorten their talk times with each customer because of the ringing phones in the background and the pressure they feel to get through calls. Short, hurried calls often lead to a less-than-stellar first impression of your company. This, in turn, costs you heavily in the end.

Good customer service representatives will pay for themselves in a matter of days. The costs associated with having enough people will be far less than losing customers and your marketing spend to further attract new customers. If you’re understaffed, try tracking high call-volume times and then reevaluating your existing schedule. Consider adding a seasonal or part-time position to your company. To ensure your call center team gives customers the best possible experience, give them the support and time they need to achieve this goal.

Mistake #2: Throwing your representatives straight into their jobs, without proper onboarding

A coach wouldn’t send an athlete to the big game without training and practice; why would you expect the voice of your company to dive in without proper training? Even the most seasoned customer service representatives need to be onboarded and trained to do their jobs your company’s way. Having a solid onboarding and training plan in place will set you, your team, your customers, and your bottom line up for success. Take the necessary time to show new employees the proper way to perform their duties; this will save you time and money on performance-related issues later, such as corrective action and performance improvement plans.

Mistake #3: Failing to see the value in the customer service position

Your customer service representatives are often viewed by consumers and other company employees as the least-paid, least-trained, and least-respected people in your business. This mentality, and a company culture that cosigns it, will not work long-term. Managers need to make it clear to all employees through words, actions, and behaviors that the role of a customer service representative is vital to your company. It’s crucial for your customer service team to know their own importance and understand how their performance affects the company’s big picture.

Engage with your front-line employees. Show them how the duties they perform each day factor into the company’s overall success. Make every effort to get to know them; let them know they have a career, not just a job. The typical customer service representative personality is one that is eager to please and often enjoys supporting the team and others in a positive manner. Show your team your appreciation by including them in bonus and incentive programs, as well as in brainstorming sessions for new company initiatives. This will also reduce your employee turnover, which results in happier customers, a more cohesive team, and increased profits.

Mistake #4: Not empowering your customer service team to handle customer challenges and complaints

Customers today know to ask for a manager when they have a less-than-great experience with a company. But asking for a manager is a direct result of companies failing to teach and empower their front-line employees to de-escalate situations and become problem solvers. This complaint hierarchy is extremely frustrating to your customers, your representatives, and your leadership team.

Think of how gratifying it would be for your front-line employees to be able to serve and help your customers! Think of the gained efficiency — if your customer service team was empowered to solve problems, your leadership team could work on training or other initiatives, instead of getting bogged down with phone tag and customer concerns. Imagine how many small issues could remain just that: small. The customers helped by your customer service team could become your biggest fans, instead of becoming more upset when they have to wait longer for a manager to resolve issues.

Empowering your customer service team sends a clear signal to customers that these employees are smart, and so is your company. When customers feel like they are talking with someone who has the power to help, they push back less against suggested resolutions. The ability for representatives to handle concerns and follow up once they’re resolved is worth so much!

Finally, empowering your customer service team helps reduce the number of negative online reviews for your company. If your team can address concerns as they come in, customers are less likely to take their negative experiences to the internet, where the damage to your reputation could have ripple effects.

We have all probably encountered these common mistakes in our interactions with companies as consumers. Correcting these issues in your own business helps you deliver a five-star experience, making your customers and employees fans of your company for life.

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Tracy is a coach at Nexstar who focuses on the implementation of Nexstar processes in contractor call centers. She brings experience from several PHCE-industry roles, including CSR, dispatcher, call center manager, corporate trainer and more.