Setting the right goals for your customer service team

Setting the right goals for your customer service team

March 13, 2013
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 management 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 strategy 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, when providing management over customer service, 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 team that a particular goal is more important than the rest, resulting in a detrimental effect on their customer service.

2. Find the right bottom-line
In order to avoid over-emphasizing any particular objectives, 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 and their process.

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

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

A customer service team that focuses purely on results will lack the human edge that adds that effective spark 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 an objective 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. That’s the kind of feedback that any customer service team would want.

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 the skills and strategies 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 more diligently. For instance, our team goal of ‘Making as many customers as possible happy’ should dovetail with the company’s intent 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 and skill. 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. In training them, provide clear objectives that are challenging but attainable, and regularly check their progress. By letting them improve themselves as individuals, you are helping them improve their skills and your overall customer service as well.

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

5. Find the right balance
As we have previously affirmed, goal setting is difficult. It is crucial that customer service goals 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 customer service goals are integral to the growth of any customer service team, and 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 customer service goals which work for your 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.