The quality of customer support is one of the primary quantifiers of a company’s reliability and perhaps the biggest differentiating factor when deciding to do business with someone.
But you knew this already, which is why you were extra picky when hiring your support team. You chose candidates with good references, relevant experience, and key traits like diplomacy, empathy, patience, and a proactive attitude. And yet, numbers don’t seem to reflect all the effort that went into recruitment, and customers report mixed experiences with support.
Does this mean you need to hire new people? Not necessarily. Even a qualified team can underperform if internal processes undermine their productivity and, as long as you don’t rule out these factors, you will keep on encountering bottlenecks:
1. They’re multitasking
Working in customer support often involves dealing with clients that are angry, frustrated, scared, and confused, and interactions like these require the operator’s full attention. But can they give the client their undivided attention, or are they trying to do more things at once?
According to a study by the Fast Company, the average worker switches tasks every three minutes, which negatively impacts productivity because it takes no less than 23 minutes to refocus. If a customer support representative is talking on the phone and attempting to fill in a report simultaneously, one of these tasks will not be done properly. To fix this, teach your employees ways to prioritize and streamline their tasks.
2. They’re distracted
Workplace distractions are one of the biggest productivity and efficiency killers. According to one study, the Internet, social media, and gossip are the main sources of distractions in offices, so start by restricting access to personal social media accounts from the work computer and blocking certain websites. But these are not the only challenges you need to address. For example, a cluttered office can also be distracting, as can the lack of privacy. If customer support reps cannot work because of what they hear from the nearby desks, you might want to consider alternative floor plans and office space compartmentalization.
3. They don’t have access to the right tools.
Manual processes are outdated most of the time. No matter how skilled your team is, if they don’t have access to productivity tools, they will waste time and underperform. For example, many workers waste over 15 minutes explaining to clients how to find a website feature when it could be done in just a few seconds if they had screen sharing software. Or, when analyzing a customer’s profile, they waste trying to rearrange, merge and delete pages when there are tools like PDFChef by Movavi, which get this done almost instantly, right from their browsers. The best way to boost productivity is to ask your team what tasks waste them the most time; you’d be surprised to hear about bottlenecks you didn’t know existed, but, fortunately, there is a tool for most of them.
4. They waste time on tasks you can easily automate.
Good customer support requires a human touch, but not all customer support queries need human intervention. If your team doesn’t have time to get to the more complicated cases that require finesse and problem-solving because they’re stuck answering repetitive tickets such as inquiring about the AWB number, it’s no wonder their numbers are low. To clear out your staff’s schedule and help them focus on the tasks that really matter, you can use AI-powered chatbots to pick up repetitive tasks. 95% of customer queries are repetitive and can be addressed by AI anyway. Plus, chatbots fix one of the biggest complaints against customer service departments – long waiting times.
5. They don’t collaborate.
Collaboration matters when working with the public, but how is information being passed around? Do your customer support reps still send each other emails to send buyer profiles? Or worse, do they shout the details from across the room? Give them access to collaboration tools, which are much more efficient and help them do things faster. Plus, these tools also reduce the risk of human error, they boost accountability because tasks are assigned to the right people, and everything is hosted securely in the cloud where you can even restore accidentally deleted files.
6. They’re burned out
Employee burnout is one of the most worrying trends in modern offices, and, unfortunately, many managers don’t realize that by assigning workers unrealistic workloads, they’re sabotaging the company’s productivity. While encouraging employees to improve by giving them a challenge every once in a while can be a good thing, overwhelming them with more work than a human being can realistically do is a sign of a toxic corporate environment that will get people to live (or stay just for the money and be unhappy).
Studies show that 80% of employees who are unhappy about their manager or supervisor are disengaged from their work, and unhappy employees make 60% more errors than happy ones. Customer service can be physically and emotionally exhausting, even for people who love their job, so let them have regular breaks and be mindful of their limits. It might sound counterproductive, but it increases their engagement and productivity in the long run.
7. hey do not have a clear goal.
When employees have a clear goal of what they need to do, they have a better attitude towards their work and are more likely to be productive. But did you know that a whopping 85% of employees don’t know the top three success metrics in their organization? In other words, people are working mechanically, without knowing the bigger picture they are a part of or what exactly they’re there to achieve.
“Do a good job” and “Keep the customer happy” are pretty vague as much as goals go. Instead, make your employees more accountable and motivated by giving them a clear goal. For example, you can ask them to increase the customer satisfaction rate by 10% or give them a clear road map of objectives they need to achieve by the end of the month.