Customer service is an art. Like any art, it takes dedication and practice to master. At the core of excellent customer service is a relentless focus on quality. Quality isn't just the latest corporate buzzword - for customer-centric companies, quality is a way of life that enables them to deliver exceptional experiences.
Quality Starts from Within
Transitioning to a culture focused on quality starts from within. Employees at all levels need to buy into quality as a core value if it is going to permeate interactions with customers. Some ways to build a quality-focused culture include:
- Empowering employees to resolve customer issues on the first interaction. This eliminates transferred calls and repetitively explaining the situation.
- Implementing robust quality assurance programs. Evaluate calls and digital interactions to identify strengths, weaknesses, and training opportunities.
- Celebrating team members who go above and beyond. Publicly praise those who exemplify your quality standards.
- Regularly soliciting customer feedback. Listen to the voice of the customer to gain insights into areas for improvement.
Choose the Right Tools
Technology plays a pivotal role in delivering quality customer service. Companies should carefully evaluate their tech stack to ensure it enables prompt, accurate responses. Key features to look for include:
- Knowledge management. Well-organized knowledge bases with search make it easy for agents to find the right answer fast.
- Automation. Chatbots and AI-enabled tools can resolve routine inquiries to free up agents for more complex issues.
- CRM integration. Connect CX tools to the CRM for quick access to customer data and interaction history.
- Analytics. Identify trends proactively by tracking metrics like resolution time, CSAT, wait times and more.
First Contact Resolution
When customers reach out with an issue, they want it resolved quickly and accurately without getting bounced around. That's why first contact resolution (FCR) is a critical metric for measuring quality customer service. Steps for improving FCR include:
- Empowering support agents to go the extra mile to resolve issues themselves without escalating.
- Using co-browsing to see what the customer sees and provide guided assistance.
- Following up with customers after resolution to confirm the issue is fully fixed.
Quality Assurance Sets Standards
Rigorous quality assurance practices enable companies to monitor performance while identifying areas for improvement. Effective QA programs:
- Listen to calls and review digital interactions using criteria based on quality standards.
- Provide individualized feedback and coaching to support agents' professional development.
- Analyze performance trends across the team to inform training programs.
- Update knowledge bases, scripts, and processes to enhance self-service resolutions.
Hire for Soft Skills
Technical skills can be taught. But for quality interactions, soft skills like communication, empathy, and work ethic really matter. During hiring:
- Screen candidates for customer-centric traits and emotional intelligence.
- Look for positive, team-oriented people.
- Hire candidates who align with your company's values.
- Onboard new hires with extensive soft skills training.
Customer Effort Score Matters
While CSAT shows satisfaction, customer effort score (CES) measures how easy it was for customers to get an issue resolved. Tracking CES provides insight into areas where processes could be smoother. Ways to improve CES:
- Reduce steps required to reach resolution, such as forms, transfers, or repeating information.
- Provide self-service options for convenient issue resolution.
- Equip agents with context about customers and past interactions to personalize service.
- Survey customers on effort required to resolve issues and use feedback to streamline.
Invest in Ongoing Training
Don't just train new hires - provide ongoing learning opportunities to help agents continually improve. Useful training techniques include:
- Hosting weekly team meetings to review procedures, role play scenarios, and discuss challenges.
- Recording calls and reviewing as a team to learn from real customer interactions.
- Shadowing top-performing agents to experience exemplary service first-hand.
- Bringing in subject matter experts across departments to share knowledge.
Recognize and Reward
When employees deliver exceptional service, it should be acknowledged and applauded. Ways to motivate quality include:
- Giving individual rewards like gift cards or trophies to top performers.
- Sharing positive customer feedback and stories of agents going above and beyond.
- Featuring a team member of the month who exemplifies quality standards.
- Publicizing customer satisfaction scores achieved by individuals and teams.
Striving for quality customer service isn't about attaining perfection - it's about committing to continuous improvement. Make it an ongoing journey by:
- Regularly reviewing processes and metrics to identify areas for refinement.
- Soliciting ideas from frontline agents who interact daily with customers.
- Staying on top of industry best practices and emerging technologies.
- Setting new goals and key results to keep challenging your status quo.
When quality is the north star guiding customer service, it transforms stale transactions into meaningful relationships built on trust. Customers can sense when a company truly cares about their experience. By cultivating a quality-focused culture day after day, you turn one-time buyers into lifelong brand advocates. That's the art of great service.