The path to creating the optimal customer experience can be long and winding, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out where to begin making improvements. Thankfully, revamping your customer service doesn’t need to be a strain on time or resources—there are ways to make small, impactful changes that are relatively easy to implement. During our Illuminate event held in New York City, experts from companies such as Box, Pinterest, and Chico’s shared a few practical ways to give your customer service an instant upgrade.
1. Bring the customer in
Now that nearly everything exists online, it’s easy to forget that customers aren’t just floating around in the “cloud.” With the endless barrage of complaints and support requests flooding in, you can lose sight of what really matters most: the customer experience. About once a month, “we have our customers come in, stand in front of the company, and tell us what they like and don’t like,” said Jon Herstein, SVP of customer success at Box. “In the room, you’ve got the engineers, the product managers, everyone hearing directly from a customer.” By physically putting customers front and center, your employees will recognize that customers aren’t just words on a screen or canned voices through a headset—they’re real people who rely on your expertise to provide them with the best possible experience.
2. Use collaborative platforms to share feedback
For any sizeable business, not everyone knows exactly what’s happening in each department within the company. How do you keep your employees on the same page without constantly holding all-staff meetings? Aaron Franklin, who oversees tools and infrastructure for community operations at Pinterest, recommended pulling notable quotes from support tickets and displaying them on a projector in the dining area for employees to view. To boost morale and create a more collaborative work environment, “send all positive and negative internal comments to the support teams that are involved,” said Ron Stuckey, who manages the customer engagement IT leadership team at Chico’s. At Zendesk, we upload customer satisfaction ratings and feedback to our company-wide internal social network, Yammer. It’s important that all employees receive both the kudos and the complaints, so that everyone works harder to enhance the customer experience.
3. Rotate everyone through support
The best way to onboard your new staff is by letting them experience life in the trenches alongside your customer service team. Your support agents have been through it all—they’ve heard the profanities, soothed the weeping, and fulfilled outrageous requests with respect and poise. More importantly, they know exactly how customers feel about your business. “Every time we have a new hire class come into Box, we do live support calls in front of them,” Herstein said. Kent Gale, senior director of customer support at Acquia, also advocates uniting departments. “Bringing an engineer to the front lines is magical,” he said. “We had engineers working in support for three weeks, and when they went back, they were solving all kinds of problems we didn’t have to tell them how to solve.” If you let your employees witness issues and complaints firsthand, they can make more informed decisions that ultimately benefit your customers.
4. Hire an analyst
Don’t underestimate the complexities that come with being a customer service agent. Generally thought of as a somewhat straightforward occupation, working in customer support actually requires an impressive amount of emotional depth, empathy, and analytical ability. “We’ve hired much more of an analyst than an agent,” Franklin said. “That’s helped us solve problems at the source.” By using a more targeted approach to hiring, you can recruit employees who go above and beyond to simplify your customers’ lives—and yours.
Want more advice? Watch a replay of the Illuminate panels or skip down for the highlights