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Managing Your Customer Service Team

Instructor: Jerri Glover
Your customer service team is an important component to company brand and success. Learn what you can do as a customer service team manager to understand and empower your team and to create a excellent customer service environment.

Customer Service Is Important To Company Brand

Susan walked into her favorite treat shop downtown. The young man working behind the counter was preoccupied with a task and had his back turned. Susan cleared her throat, and the young man turned around. He immediately apologized for not seeing her when she entered and began fulfilling her order right away.

She asked for one-quarter pound of gummy candy strawberries and two pieces of chocolate toffee. The young man weighed out the gummy candies, gathered the toffee printed the payment tag and then threw in a few extra pieces. Susan smiled wide and thanked the young man for his generosity. He assured her it was no problem and that it was company policy that if a customer isn't happy, he has the authority to do whatever is necessary to make the situation right.

This opening scenario is demonstrating customer service at work. A customer service team represents the company and is one of the most important components of a company's brand. How well they do their job is a direct reflection of how they are managed. In order to have a strong customer service team, certain components are required: understanding, empowerment and environment.

We are going to take a look at these three components. We will also talk a little about a situation that requires some special customer service skills - customer service over the telephone - and how to create a good culture and work environment to foster good customer service skills.

Understanding What It Means To Work In Customer Service

Understanding comes from experiencing and doing. Everyone in the company should experience what it is like to be a customer service team member. Everyone means EVERYONE. Those hired for management should first start by working at least seven days in customer service. This will give them a greater appreciation for the work done by the customer service team. Further, you cannot manage a process you do not understand. By spending time as a customer service team member, you and other managers will relate to and appreciate the tasks performed by the customer service team every day.

Empower Your Customer Service Team

A customer service team must also be empowered to serve the customer. They have been hired to do a job. Let them do it. Sometimes it can be hard to relinquish control as a manager or business owner. However, if you give your team the appropriate tools and guidelines they can succeed. Their success is your success. Your success reflects in the company's success.

Empower Through Processes

Every company should have processes in place for team members to follow whether they are in maintenance, management or customer service. For instance, you own a store that sells children's clothes. You could create a policy that gives your team members the authority to refund purchases of up to $150 no questions asked because sometimes the customer just wants their money back. If your team member can give that refund on their own without delay, the customer will have a better experience, which will hopefully translate to their return in the future.

What if the refund due is over $150? With clear processes, your customer service team member will know they need a manager's override to complete the transaction. Train them to complete all the steps in a friendly manner up to and including the involvement of management, so the customer will have a pleasant experience.

The goal is simply to provide the customer with the very best experience possible. Customers are not purchasing things or services. Customers purchase experiences. Train your customer service team members in such a way that the customer has the best experience possible every time.

Customer Service Via Telephone

Let's talk for a moment about providing customer service to someone over the telephone. When your team members are required to provide service to customers via the telephone, it creates a new layer of complexity. They do not have the option of reading facial expressions or observing other things that may be influencing the customer's mood or behavior. It is important that the telephone customer service team receive solid training in how to respond to a customer who calls, especially if the customer is angry.

Telephone customer service team members should be trained and reminded to always:

  • Smile when answering the phone - it really does translate in the tone of voice
  • Speak slowly - not in a condescending manner but at a pace the customer can follow
  • Speak clearly - no marbles in the mouth, please
  • Enunciate - this will happen more naturally when the team member speaks slowly and clearly
  • Speak up - no need to shout, but speak at a volume to be easily heard by the customer

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