Setting the right goals for your customer service team

Setting the right goals for your customer service team

Finding the right balance in goal-setting is integral to the success of any team. As front-line employees, it’s all the more important that your customer service team is suitably motivated by the right goals. After all, they are the source of outstanding service and part of an unforgettable brand experience.

Here are some points to take note of—along with some examples—you can use when setting goals for your customer service team:

1. Be specific with goals
A general goal does not guarantee the performance of the team—it merely ensures that the team performs the task. For example, if the goal I set for my customer service team is, ‘Respond quickly to customers’ needs’, one customer service representative might define “quickly” as within 24 hours, while another might define is within a week. The task is completed, but no performance standards are set.

If the goal is to ‘Respond to customers’ needs within an hour’, the bar is set clearly. The team will know exactly what constitutes as poor or good performance, and as a result, will strive to meet it. However, be wary of what you incentivize. Providing incentives for meeting performance standards reinforces that the task at hand is work, and might have an adverse effect on intrinsic motivation. Additionally, it might indicate to the customer service team that a particular goal is more important than the rest.

2. Find the right bottom-line
In order to avoid over-emphasizing any particular goals, it is important to communicate the bottom-line undergirding your customer service team goals—in other words, the customer service ethos that should guide and motivate your team.

It is crucial that your team aims to meet a higher purpose rather than simply striving to hit the goals and call it a day. By shifting the focus to intrinsic work values, the team will be motivated to perform tasks to the best of their abilities, and not just for the sake of meeting goals.

For customer service teams in particular, the bottom-line should be relationship-oriented, rather than results-oriented. A goal like “Make as many customers as possible happy” is much less prone to negative interpretation than a goal like “Serve as many chats as possible.”

A customer service team that focuses purely on results will lack the human edge that adds that extra sparkle to the service provided. Actions such as going the extra mile for your customer might not seem logical to do when all your team desires to do is to meet a goal and leave it there.

A terrific example of illogical but heart-warming (and certainly memorable) customer service that went beyond the call of duty would be LEGO’s letter to a 7-year old that went viral.

3. Align team goals with company direction
A leg that goes left while the rest of the body goes right will cause the entire body to fall. In the same way, your customer service team needs to be provided with goals that dovetail with the company’s overall direction. A customer service team that has such goals will support the company well.

Additionally, if the team perceives that their performance has a direct positive impact on the company as a whole, they will certainly be more motivated to work diligently at meeting their goals. For instance, our team goal of ‘Making as many customers as possible happy’ should dovetail with the company goal of ‘delivering customer wow’ there is a direct correlation between the team’s objective and the company’s aims.

4. Don’t neglect personal/individual goals
Finally, it is important to remember that your team is fundamentally made up of individual employees who have varying levels of motivation. After all, a team is only as strong as its weakest member, and one single weak link can easily shatter a whole chain.

Meet up with the individuals in your customer service team, and work with them to set personal goals according to each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Provide clear objectives that are challenging but attainable, and regularly check their progress. By letting them improve themselves as individuals you are improving your customer service as well.

As strange as it seems, it might actually help to align personal goals with business objectives. If your business goal is to provide great customer service, a personal goal could be to respond more creatively, allowing the employee to grow as a person and contribute to your goals at the same time.

5. Find the right balance
As we have previously affirmed, goal setting is difficult. It is crucial that goals set for your customer service team are well-balanced in all the ways mentioned above. An optimum balance can only be reached when all these things are considered as a whole, from a macro-company perspective right down to the individual employee. At Zendesk we believe that proper goals are integral to the growth of customer service teams, because of that they are reviewed all the time. Perhaps you can use these tips when you next review or set goals for your team!

Do you have goals which work for your customer service team? We would love to hear from you!

This post was originally published by Zopim. Since joining Zendesk, Zopim has been welcomed into our product family as Zendesk Chat, along with a number of treasured belongings.