How to Improve Your Customer Service with Collaboration
Offering an amazing customer experience to your customers plays a crucial role in the success and growth of your business. But, even when following the customer service best practices, top-notch service can only be achieved with collaboration between your teams.
By the end of this blog post, you'll have a better understanding of the value of customer service collaboration and how to put it in place in your business to improve customer service and retention.
What Is Customer Service Collaboration?
Collaborative customer service is the practice of having many customer service team members work together to address customer inquiries, complaints, and issues.
Team members share information, coordinate efforts, and communicate to ensure that customers' needs are met in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Overall, collaborative customer service is a valuable practice for any business looking to provide exceptional customer service and meet the needs of its customers.
Why Is Customer Service Collaboration Important?
Not all customer interactions are the same. Businesses often receive varied customer queries making collaboration within a service team crucial for providing exceptional customer service. It allows team members to share information, knowledge, and resources with one another.
Collaboration can help ensure that customers receive timely, accurate, and helpful help and that their needs are addressed in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
Now, more than ever, customers are looking for fast and accurate information at the tip of their fingers. That means that your company needs a unified front to be able to speak to all customer touchpoints, including sales, onboarding, success, and support.
Maintaining each department in the loop throughout a customer's lifecycle helps ensure your customer feels valued. Service team collaboration helps build trust and loyalty that your customers can rely on and lean on. Increasing retention time by earning that trust is more cost-effective than having customers churning and having to bring on new clients. Studies have shown that it's five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain one.
What Are the Benefits of Collaboration in Customer Service?
1. Increased Knowledge Sharing
Since requests can be so varied and nuanced, knowledge sharing is imperative. Most of the time, there is a resolution in place that exists somewhere, and similar workarounds that solve the same issue.
Sharing knowledge also helps create self-help guides so your customers can try to solve their problems or answer their questions before contacting customer service. A study from 2017 by Harvard Business Review revealed that 81% of customers attempt to resolve issues themselves before reaching out to an employee.
2. Improved Resolution Time
In support, each team member has their own unique set of strengths they bring to the table. Some agents are stronger in resolving certain customer inquiries, as teams work on different client request types. What takes one person 30 min to work through, may take another 5-10 minutes. With constant communication, collaboration, and a knowledge base, you’ll be able to reduce those gaps in knowledge.
As agents build on their experience in solving customer requests, they start becoming subject matter experts. They are the go-to people within the team and company for specific areas of expertise that can help reduce time to resolution by helping increase the knowledge of the whole team.
3. Improved Customer Satisfaction
No one individual is more important than the collective group. Promoting collaboration and teamwork helps drive efficiency and a better end-user experience.
4. Improved Work Environment
Collaboration within a service team can help to foster a positive and supportive work environment. It can improve morale, team bonding, and motivation among team members, leading to better service.
Since better collaboration often translates into better customer satisfaction it can also mean better employee experience. Indeed, a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown that positive interactions with customers during service interactions had a positive effect on employees.
Using the right collaboration tools will also insure that the work environment encourages teamwork.
How to Provide Exceptional Customer Service Through Collaboration?
Exceptional customer service requires collaboration between all members of your business, from the front-line staff to the management team. By working together, everyone can ensure that the customer experience is positive. Even small businesses following customer service tips need to collaborate to provide exceptional customer service.
Encourage Open Communication Between Teams
One way to do better customer service through collaboration is by encouraging open discussion. It can be done by building strong cross-departmental relationships through shadowing opportunities and combined team meetings.
A format I’ve found useful is having retro-style meetings—a structured format that gives both teams time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t go well, and what we can improve on. This helps establish clear expectations and goals to strengthen internal relationships between teams.
Collaboration can be promoted in recurring meetings with such topics as customer spotlights or team showcases to highlight some of the exceptional recent interactions colleagues have had to share their takeaways with the wider group. Showcases help inspire what going above and beyond means and it also helps uncover some knowledge gaps in resources and training.
Encourage Collaboration Between Sales & Customer Service Teams
Sales teams set the right expectations early on and customer support teams make sure to deliver on the expectations and promises made to the customer. It’s all about working together to agree on what those expectations should be and product limitations.
Customer service teams are crucial and important for sales teams. It’s important to discuss escalations, trends, and ways they can work better together.
Having a recurring meeting with an agenda for top-of-mind items that come across either team helps get both departments on the same page to improve customer transitions and handoffs between one another.
Another effective method is shadowing one another. It can help each team gain a new perspective while learning about the product and taking a page from each other's book.
Personalizing and setting the right expectations from the start will help build trust and loyalty your customers can rely on.
Another key factor that helps promote customer service collaboration is sharing the same KPIs across teams and departments. Customer support teams are only as good as what the cumulative scores indicate (CSAT, Median Resolution Times, Productivity, SLAs, etc.).
While it’s great to have top performers on your teams, the impact isn’t as powerful when there are other performers also contributing to the team’s reputation.
Encouraging team-wide goals to hit certain metrics embodies a one-team mentality through collaboration. We’re only as good as our team KPIs are.
Fail Fast, but Learn Fast
Encouraging an autonomous environment allows us to encourage failure as an opportunity to improve. Within a no-judgment zone, we can all learn from each other’s failures and foster a healthy environment where, as a team, we uncover what went wrong and how we can all learn from the takeaways.
Make it known it’s a lesson for the entire team, as we’re all in the same boat and, more likely than not, a similar interaction will be coming around for the team to handle. We don’t know what we don’t uncover, so sharing both the good and the bad will help identify and uncover roadblocks along the way.
How Can Customer Service Teams Collaborate on Emails and Calls?
Customer service teams need to be able to collaborate on emails and calls to provide the best possible service to clients.
A system for assigning responsibilities to each department in the company is important for emails. Your customer service team should also have a structure to guide them on how to follow up with customers after sending an email and who will be responsible for it.
Calls should be recorded and shared among departments so they can all learn from each other's customer interactions.
Choosing a great shared inbox software and good call center software can be the key to better real-time and asynchronous collaboration. Integrating both inside one powerful platform like Missive and Aircall via the Aircall integration can help your teams communicate without having to jump between multiple apps. With features like assignment automation, Missive becomes an essential communication tool for your business.
When Should You Call a Customer?
Calls are a great way to communicate with customers when the interaction can go a couple of different directions or if the interaction will require multiple back and forths (customer needs to do A and after that, you’ll need them to do B for solution C).
Most of the time, it’s easier to explain your intent and demonstrate the best options over the phone than by following up via email.
Customer service agents should get in the customer’s shoes and call a customer when they anticipate a lot of questions coming, have to explain something complicated, or when it’s of urgent priority.
It’s also important to note that it’s always best to call early when the customer is most engaged and least frustrated.
When Should You Email a Customer?
Contrary to a phone call, emails should be the preferred method of communication when there’s less urgency. It’s also efficient when you need to keep multiple parties involved and want to allow the responsible parties whether that be from the customer’s side and/or other internal teams to respond with the most thoughtful impact.
When you need to break down complex, thorough concepts into bite-size pieces, it’s best to offer a call afterward to go over them.
Emails are also a great way to provide direction and purpose and drive the conversation in the right direction after phone interactions.
How Can You Collaborate on Calls?
Even if only one agent was on the call it’s important to keep everyone on the same page. The agent on the call is the primary point person and is the lead for providing the customer with the right information. This person is also in charge of delegating and leading the situation to the desired end result.
That sequence of events should be communicated to the relevant internal parties. Whether that be transferring the call to another internal team, taking detailed notes, asking critical investigation questions, or creating a follow-up email ticket to document the interaction.
With calls, it can be tough to create a structure and assign team members to conversations. To solve this routing problem, most businesses either round-robin incoming calls or ring multiple agents simultaneously. There is no right solution. It all depends on the team, the number of agents available, and the expected volume.
Round-robin helps ensure fairness amongst the group. It’s great for reporting purposes and keeps the team honest. However, it can also lead to an increase in abandoned calls and current workflows being interrupted.
Ringing simultaneously to all team members is an approach that relies on team autonomy so that the agent with the best availability can pick up the phone (which helps limit distractions amongst ongoing investigations and workflows).
Customer service collaboration is key to offering a great customer experience. It involves sharing information, coordinating efforts, and communicating between your team members to ensure that the customer's needs are met in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Collaboration allows team members to share knowledge, resources, and expertise to provide timely, accurate, and helpful assistance to customers. It also helps to improve resolution time, customer satisfaction, work environment, and team bonding.
By effectively implementing collaboration in customer service, businesses can provide exceptional customer service, build trust and loyalty with their customers, and improve retention rates.