Customer Service Team Communication can get extremely daunting as the department grows. It’s easy to communicate effectively when every person in your company fits within five hundred square feet.
“Hey, Steve, how do I access this again?” You call across the room at your IT guy. He saunters three giant steps to your desk and explains the process again for the third time that week.
But what do you do when your company spans twenty departments across a five-story building? You need some kind of system in place to ensure a well-oiled customer experience.
Customer Service Team Communication For Managers
Managers make or break a customer service team, especially a big one. The best ones are personal and caring, and they seek the most efficient ways of communicating and solving problems.
Organize Collaborative Chatter.
If a manager must only show one strength when he is hired, he should be organized. Employees should understand the projects or cases they are working on and should have an easy way to communicate with each other about a project.
Sameer Patel is the CEO of Kahuna, a mobile marketing software company. He suggests that “organizations should implement a social collaboration solution that gives employees access to a single platform for communication.”
While most businesses provide work email and phones for their employees, big customer service teams can reach each other more effectively through a business chatroom. Mashable lists several business apps, like Google Apps and Evernote, that include a variety of features for team collaboration. You should choose one that offers channels where only specific employees working on a project can chat.
Stick Around in Plain Sight.
Nothing delivers worse customer service than a bottom-level employee fending for themselves while the manager hides behind his enormous, paper-laden desk. When I worked as a customer service agent, my managers provided a Help Line that we could call at any time of the day. A manager always readily answered it when we had a problem.
Whether you give employees an extension, welcome them into your office, or pace the work floor, your employees should know exactly where to find you if they have questions. If you don’t, you’ll seriously slow down production in a large company and usher in a slew of negative customer experiences.
Communicate One Goal: Customer Satisfaction.
Kevin O’Conner, CEO of data company FindTheBest, says, “When you organize around your market, hence your customer, you’ll be in a better position to see their pain points.”
If everyone in your customer service area focuses on the customer, they’ll solve problems more efficiently. When I worked in customer service, I remember a situation in which the customer was blindly transferred to several departments. By the time I answered the customer’s call, I could hear his red-faced huffing on the other end.
I still did not have this customer’s answer. Instead of simply transferring him blindly again, however, I apologized profusely and made sure I knew the correct person to send him to. The other agents had forgotten one important goal when they received this customer contact: satisfy the customer’s needs.
While focusing on customers might seem obvious with a customer service team, employees can lose their focus. Managers should stress this goal to every employee in their company. They should include the customer in every answer they provide and point out when workers aren’t keeping this goal in mind.
Give Feedback Regularly.
Giving feedback is essential to any company, but especially a large customer service team. Small teams may emulate the boss’s desired skills without much feedback since they likely work in close quarters to him.
But in a large team, agents don’t work so closely with the boss. They may relax their best customer service qualities and dismiss their weaknesses simply because the chief isn’t close by. If you give each employee consistent feedback, you’ll unify your team as they all zone in on your goal.
The US Office of Personnel Management supports employee feedback. They recommend giving specific comments and pairing any criticism with praise for your workers’ strengths. If a business incorporates employee feedback regularly, “individual and team performance will improve, which will make your organization more effective,” they say.
Get Ideas From All Levels.
Many companies make the mistake of accepting ideas only from the higher–ups, but what if the newbie sees a solution that seasoned employees don’t? They often give a fresh perspective on the company’s procedures.
Construct a system where the lowest level employee can give their thoughts. You’ll boost morale since employees will feel heard, and you’ll give your company some crisp ideas at the same time. This system stimulates good communication and breaks through the boss–employee barrier that often stifles effective production.
To implement this system, you can set up a suggestion box or direct ideas to a trusted secretary who will forward the best ones to you. You could also coordinate a brainstorming meeting for specific product problems. Kevin O’Conner suggests the Brainstorm Prioritization Technique (BPT).
With this method, you would organize a small group of employees who would toss around solutions to a problem. Then, the group would vote on these solutions until three or four good ones remained for the company to research. This method proves fast and enforces good communication since all ideas are considered and narrowed down by the group.
No matter the strategy, encouraging suggestions keeps workers engaged and helps them own the company. They’ll work harder if they know you’re listening to and watching them.
Customer Service Team Communication For Service Reps
Just because you work on a large customer service team doesn’t mean you don’t matter. After all, a team consists of individual members. You shoulder responsibility to communicate well too.
Feel like no one else communicates around you? Give them a good example. Maybe your coworkers will step up their game so that they won’t get lost in your shadow.
Here are a few ways to enhance your communication:
US News urges this tactic when your boss or coworker explains a project to you. Repeating what you just heard in your own words secures the instructions in your mind. You’ll leave the conversation confident in the task you’re performing, a mark of an effective communicator.
Any teacher will agree that repetition is essential to learning and recall. The Professional Learning Board makes no exceptions. They show how repeating a skill over and over helps your brain store that information into long–term memory. Thus, repeating instructions back to your instructor will help you learn the information while assuring your leader that you understood.
Leadership and communications consultant Susan Tardanico recommends simplicity. People shouldn’t cock their head and furrow their brow after you explain your thoughts. If people understand what you tell them, you’ll solve customer problems a whole lot faster.
“Look out for technical jargon and business speak, which add complexity,” Tardanico says. In other words, speak in normal, everyday English. Leave the jargon for lawyers and politicians.
Tardanico also suggests that if you can’t break down a complicated process into simple language, then you may not totally understand the process. Make sure you do adequate research and practice your thoughts out loud before you try explaining it to someone else.
Fransesca Gino and Adam Grant, behavioral scientists from the Universities of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, conducted a study on showing gratitude. They sent emails to subjects asking them to review a student’s cover letter multiple times. They found that if the student thanked people for their previous feedback, they were twice as likely to give further feedback.
If you want coworkers or managers to be willing to help you with any problem, thank them for the solutions they have already given you. Who doesn’t like a pat on the back?
Pitch Well-Thought Solutions.
If you disapprove of company policies, you might be tempted to whisper behind your boss’s back. You wouldn’t be the first one unhappy with your workplace. According to a Gallup survey, 63% of people are dissatisfied with their work.
Being dissatisfied shouldn’t make you indifferent, though. Don’t just clock in and out each day, rolling your eyes and shaking your head. Try pitching a few well-thought suggestions instead.
Career coach Mike Gellman recommends scheduling a meeting with your boss and giving them a heads up about the meeting’s subject. He also suggests identifying your own part in the problem.
“It’s important to understand and acknowledge your contribution to the issue,” he says. Admitting and discussing how you will change your own part in the problem could also soften the criticism toward your boss or company in your meeting.
If you’re discussing a change in company policy, bring a relevant reason and a thorough plan to your meeting. Your boss will appreciate the work that you put into your solution.
Communicating effectively within a large customer service team takes diligence and proactive effort. Don’t get lost in the sheer numbers of your team or give into the absent-leader syndrome. If you ask good questions, speak clearly, and commit to finding the right solutions, you’ll thrive at communication and help others along in the process.
Sarah George is a flower–sniffing, homemade–cooking wordsmith who loves pounding out breathless stories until they fill with life. In her spare time, she loves designing her home with thrilling thrift finds and challenging herself with a good workout.