Five Keys to Growing and Optimizing Your Customer Service Team

Victor Obando, VP of Customer Solutions, ActivTrak

Victor Obando, VP of Customer Solutions, ActivTrak

Earlier this year the World Bank predicted the global economy would slow for a third straight year in 2024. While the job market is still strong in some industries and regions, heightened global tensions, high inflation and high interest rates have increased business uncertainty.

As a result, leaders are proceeding cautiously when it comes to expanding company headcount, including in the area of customer service – which is often one of the most critical and outwardly visible organizations for any company.

This article will discuss how customer service leaders can optimize team performance without having to ask for additional headcount, and learn how to boost their return on workforce investment through ongoing assessment, team structuring, enablement, automation and insights.

Assess Skills and Knowledge

Managing customer service teams can be compared to managing a sports team, and teams with skill diversity are key to developing a well-rounded customer service organization. You have to know each member’s strengths and align them to the proper positions, balancing expertise with skills gaps to ensure success – and provide opportunities for growth.

Tier Your Teams

It’s critical to tier your team’s structure based on knowledge, skill and experience. Each tier should be a filter for the next to minimize the escalation of issues, and prevent your highest-skilled team members from getting bogged down. This requires lower-tier customer service professionals to be enabled and empowered to step up when needed. Providing extensive online support documentation can help customers with commonly asked questions to increase bandwidth and support downstream workflows as needed.

Understand Inputs and Outputs

People analytics and customer service systems provide countless metrics that can help you assess the balance of efforts vs. outcomes. Some important input metrics include how your team spends their time and on which tasks. This can help answer questions: Where does overwork exist? Are some team members putting in extra long days (where others are not)? It could be that their role is not aligned with their skills, or they have too many distractions. Even top performers can have a soft week or month, but without looking at workforce analytics data, you can’t understand what’s happening or how to help until it’s too late.

Automate Workflows

Optimizing workflows is an ever-evolving process.  As a team grows in skills and knowledge, it creates new opportunities to improve and streamline processes. In some cases, you may not  even need a human to do certain tasks – which is where the integration of AI often comes into play. Tools powered by AI technology like ChatGPT can help speed case resolution by identifying familiar types of inquiries and responding with automated emails and/or scripts. This eliminates extra cycles of communication and reduces certain high-volume activities so teams can focus on more high-value customer interaction and engagement.

Empower Teams

Put a professional development plan in place to ensure you’re giving everyone the type of tools and knowledge they need to succeed. This can help optimize the team and prevent the escalation of issues. It may also require you to realign team members based on closer assessment of their skills and experience. Shadowing can be a great way to help transfer knowledge and upskill team members.

Growing and optimizing a customer service team is an ongoing work in progress, but it can be extremely rewarding when teams are thriving, learning from each other and empowered to do their jobs.

Understanding your team’s knowledge and strengths, and supporting them with structure, automation and insights is a winning formula no matter what the economic climate.

About the Author

Victor Obando is VP of Customer Solutions at ActivTrak. He brings nearly two decades of leadership and technical skills across Enterprise Software, Cloud, Networking and Information Security to ActivTrak, with a successful track record in building and running a world-class team of Solutions Architects and Systems Engineers to support global customers and partners.

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