What separates great customer service managers from others with similar training? These five habits.
The best customer service managers (CSMs) are masters at multitasking. They perform administrative duties, demonstrate efficient management skills, and manage teams of customer support representatives. Most importantly, they ensure customer satisfaction whether face-to-face, over the phone, or through email.
Customer service skills may be similar from job to job, but managers with these 5 habits excel at motivating, communicating and coaching their teams. They separate ordinary from extraordinary customer service managers.
1. Exceptional customer service managers see team building as a daily activity and know their responsibilities as a team leader.
While a good customer service manager knows they are in charge of team decisions, they also know their team–which members have strengths and weaknesses, and what those strengths and weaknesses are. They can effectively delegate tasks, but also trust their team to complete assignments without micromanagement. They provide training when and where it’s needed most.
A customer service manager practices leadership by guiding their team to do well while keeping morale high. Team members chase performance goals when there are obvious targets and clear rewards. The CSM creates an atmosphere where every team member works to achieve these well-defined, consistent performance goals. Periodic appraisals and evaluations combined with incentives can help motivate workers. Forward-thinking recognition and reward programs drive employees to perform better.
Above all else, a CSM must practice empathy for team members who often have complex backgrounds, lives, and situations.
2. Customers are always first.
Satisfied customers are the best brand ambassadors. The most important metric of any company is customer satisfaction and happiness. A customer service manager must therefore, by habit, advocate for the customer and put them first. If he or she does not, neither will other members of the team.
CSMs analyze complex customer issues from every angle and appreciate the complex challenge of finding the right mix of what customers want, what employees can provide, and what the company offers.
Leaders demonstrate ideal behavior. The CSM must communicate a timeline for solutions and display–by example–correct methods for replying to questions and addressing difficult situations. Good habits of leaders become good habits of team members.
3. CSMs exercise a high degree of emotional intelligence.
Customer service manager jobs are not easy. A customer service manager serves three separate entities: the customer, their team, and their company. Understanding the context of difficult situations takes a high level of emotional intelligence. If an upset customer calls, what is the underlying cause? How does the behavior of one customer impact other employees and other customers?
The average day for a CSM can include customer service, employee discipline, and a meeting with management. Only when the ability to manage multiple challenges becomes habit does a workday become efficient.
4. Communication is a habit.
Effective communication is the cornerstone of customer service management. Whether in-person, on the phone, or over email, it’s about conveying clear information without reverting to jargon. Remember, communication has a two-way flow: effective, empathetic listening is a key habit of highly effective customer service managers.
5. CSMs enjoy strategy and organization.
Organization is a key habit of outstanding customer service managers, and it begins with good documentation. When there’s a problem, they take a few minutes after the conversation to write the details. What was the issue? Who was it with? What did customer service representatives say to remediate the issue, and what was the outcome? Reports about critical issues can help with future issues. A CSM can use documented customer interactions to better train staff.
Strategy-building and planning can prevent problems before they happen, and offer staff protocols to deal with common, everyday occurrences and problems. Good managers prevent mundane issues from consuming too much time and prevent major issues from consuming an entire day this way. Good managers prioritize, delegate, and focus the most energy on the right things. They both deliver customer service and address issues.
These five habits of exceptional customer service managers translate well to almost any industry. With practice, these competencies build skilled teams and successful companies. Most importantly, they help organizations focus on important customer issues and deliver superior service.
About the Author
Ian Miller is the Editor of CSM Magazine – the leading resource and community for customer service managers and professionals.