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How to Establish a Customer Service Team for an Early Stage Business

Today’s consumer has constant access to countless options, fueling their expectation of instant gratification, and leaving no room for mediocrity. If they call your firm and are sent to voicemail, they simply move on to your competitors. If they purchase a product that doesn’t meet their expectations, they leave reviews online, and buy something else. Customer service has always been important, but today it’s paramount. Your reputation is your biggest asset, and it can turn on a dime.

While building your business, the time to assemble and train a customer service team may seem like a luxury you don’t have. But customer service is crucial to staying afloat. Personnel who are trained to put out fires allow you to focus on the big picture and generate growth and success. Establishing a customer service team in time for your launch can be done quickly and effectively when you know where to focus your efforts.

Inspire positive energy from your team. While a designated CS department is the goal, each employee’s attitude should be that of service to the customer. Start by hiring employees who subscribe to that philosophy, no matter their position in the company. For many small businesses, employees may, in early days, wear multiple hats and interact with customers on any given day. It only takes one rude interaction or delayed response to turn a customer into a critic. Employees who seek to please customers and pitch in where needed will carry your brand forward.

Set them up for success. If your customer service representatives don’t have the answers to your customers’ questions, the fault may not lie with them. When your agents are well trained, they generate happy customers — but they also enjoy a happier work environment, which in turn increases employee retention. Prep them for their customer interactions by providing the proper tools to respond. One quick solution: Assemble a quick reference document that customer service representatives can use to search a keyword or topic. Efficiency is one of the key things customers look for in customer service, so hire employees with an urgency to respond and an ability to think on their feet. Provide them with a customer support webpage that’s mobile friendly, and offer them the ability to respond via social media, text, and SMS to better accommodate customers on-the-go.

Provide 24/7 customer support. Customer service no longer exists in a bubble from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Customers seek answers around the clock, and are frustrated by companies they can’t reach. Despite the simplicity of today’s digital communications (email, text, chat), a study by the Harvard Business Review found that a majority of customers still prefer to talk to a human being when it comes to customer service. Furthermore, those calls are 10-15 times more likely to generate business than their digital counterpart. Having a customer support team available around the clock will give you a serious advantage. Evenings, weekends, and holidays are when consumers finally have a break in their day to seek out the services they need. But if customers can’t reach you, they’ll move on to a company that can. Customers, especially disgruntled ones, want to feel heard and tended to. An ideal solution is to outsource your customer support during these peak times, or even around the clock. Outsourcing customer service is more efficient and economical than training and employing on-site staff, and can be done much more quickly. An outsourced partner can also provide easy scalability, critical to early-stage companies that may still be figuring out peaks and dips in demand.

Set up a help desk. Some of the more successful support systems are launched with a basic help desk, or support ticketing software. While it’s tempting to classify this move as a Phase 2 action item, getting a help desk up and running at the start should improve your customer experience. It helps remove the bottlenecks and should increase team efficiency, ultimately paying itself off in ROI.

By hiring people who are committed to customer support across all departments, equipping your customer service representatives with quick resources and multiple outlets of communication, outsourcing your customer service as needed, and setting up a help desk, you can quickly establish a customer service team to take your business exactly where you want it to go. Set up your business for a customer thumbs-up.

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