5 Misconceptions That Hurt Customer Service Productivity
Once our basic needs (and some nice-to-haves) are obtained, it’s easy to feel comfortable and content. There comes a point where many of us are not overly willing to take difficult steps in order to reach our fullest potential.
This reluctance to make changes keeps applies to many customer service departments of small businesses. And if you’re growing, it’s a lot easier to dismiss making changes due to a lack of time or budget.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about customer support that we tend to make:
1. I’m fine with using my email client
When you limit yourself to one email inbox, you’ll be misplacing conversations and having tickets fall through the cracks – not to mention hurting your productivity.
Consider what your typical day supporting customers is like. If the right commands are at your fingertips, this might save you an hour of time at the end of the day. This can translate into weeks over the course of a year. Here’s why:
- Email doesn’t let you create a custom list of messages
- You can’t separate conversations for different departments
- Inability to assign responsibility to your coworkers
In addition, lack of visibility on the customer level is the main shortcoming that small to medium businesses have. Many companies get so caught up in solving every customer issue that comes in, they don’t keep an eye on maintaining actual relationships.
Without knowing your customers (personal info, order history, special instructions) at the time of responding to emails, it’s more difficult to offer exceptional service, and easier to make a mistake in replies.
A help desk with the ability to save searches (including ticket properties) to call up a specific list of emails you’d like to see. For example, Helprace allows you to save saved searches as “filters”. This greatly speeds up your productivity.
Conversations can be separated between mailboxes and the right emails can be assigned to the most appropriate person automatically, without interference. Having all customer information at your fingertips also help in offering better customer service.
2. My customers are OK with service
If you think customers are waiting long stretches of time before hearing from you, you’re probably right. Most customers expect a response the same day (and many within a few hours) so if you stretch that, you’re going to be in trouble.
When emails aren’t responded to in a timely manner, everyone suffers. Customers lose faith in your support department. They feel forgotten, leading to resentment and negative word of mouth. This animosity can reflect back on the support agents, leading to job dissatisfaction and disengagement.Well, it’s a busy time of year for us…
Besides, some degree of research shows that customers don’t contact you every time they run into a problem. They’ll visit the website, search your documentation or browse through publicly accessible content in hopes of finding the answer.
You may think keeping track of your emails in a spreadsheet (like excel) is a good idea, but you’ll miss a lot of other, crucial information. For example, how will you know if your team is being effective? How do you know if certain conversations represent trouble areas? Here are other things to keep an eye on:
- explore ticket statistics, discover bottlenecks and recurring issues
- measure team productivity and identify struggling team members
- collect customer satisfaction and offer better customer service
Measuring the right metrics will allow you to visualize common patterns and act on them – thus getting you in the mode of constant improvement.
3. I need to personally deal with every ticket
Time is something we want more of, and something we have trouble managing at the same time. Some tickets may be important yet not urgent, while others are urgent but not important. When you lump them all in one queue, you end up with a lot of wasted time.
Few customer issues are truly unique. More often than not, your customer is approaching you with a problem that you’ve seen before, and will likely see again.
- The same bug that 100 other customers have dealt with
- A clarification on something that was confusing to them, and many others
- A basic question about shipping or invoicing
So unless you run a highly specialized B2B business – even then, there will be some repeat requests in your ticket queue. Even if you decide to take your time to respond to every ticket:
- the answer won’t be as good as the one you gave last week
- you might step on your coworker’s toes as you work on the same ticket
- you could add duplicate notes or bug reports based on similar tickets
4. I have no need for these fancy features
At first glance, many productivity features may seem gimmicky and unnecessary – until you start using them. Even if you’re a one-man operation supporting a handful of agents, the right help desk solution will be invisible to customers while keeping the quality of service high.
Imagine you’re serving one customer through email. Sure, you could write out a lengthy guide for them. Then someone else asks the same question and out you send another guide.
At first glance, this solution may seem adequate. Until you realize that you could create an article and easily link to it in your emails. Not only it’s a lot easier to follow and read, it’s also SEO-friendly, and you can add all types of formatting and media, too.
Sometimes you need to be able to work together on a ticket with a partner or – maybe you need to leave a few “to do” lines before you get back to the customer. Maybe you need an answer from a 3rd party before you send a response?
The ability to leave private notes in your conversations is essential if you want to offer a better level of customer service. Physical notes get lost and saving emails as drafts is messy. Besides, private notes are searchable and supported by a full text editor, making it easy to say what you need.
The biggest productivity mistake for most support departments is performing repetitive tasks over and over again, without bothering to simplify or eliminate them. That’s where automations come in. Automations are behind-the-scenes actions that save hundreds of hours from your support workflows, making your days a lot more productive.
It also means getting rid of tons of repetitive, soul-crushing commands agents would need to perform. For example: inserting a saved reply, referring to topics, marking down a bug in another app without leaving your ticket.
5. If customers really want to, they’ll get in touch
Customers are the ones that want to save time and money – they want their customer experience to be productive. That’s why we use technologies that are more and more geared towards reducing customer effort.
Amidst all this, customers are increasingly expecting great service, and do it on social media, on mobile devices and self-service portal. It’s simply not enough anymore for a company to direct their customer base to an email address.
When customers come to you, it may be too late. They are already frustrated and are looking for answers ASAP. They’ve already tried to look on your website with little success. Maybe they have an axe to grind. They remember getting poor service from your company last week – something your support team may be oblivious to.
For many businesses, this customer-centric reality is difficult to adapt to. On one hand, support is a highly valuable activity that offers insights into customer success, marketing and product development. It also has a number of pitfalls, resource drains and unclear ROI.
How do you keep your support department productive?