The Future of Customer Happiness Relies on Customer Service Agents: 4 Ways to Build Great Enablement

This blog post first appeared on Zendesk’s blog in December 2020. You can explore the original post here.

When you think of customer service enablement, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? 

Whatever you just thought of, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it wasn’t, “Yes, customer service enablement is my favorite!” and that’s likely because not too many folks know about it and even fewer companies are investing in it. For now. 

But here’s what my teammates at Lessonly and our partners at Zendesk believe: The future of customer satisfaction and customer retention relies on support agents who can truly wow customers. These folks are the faces, voices, chat responses, and other-side-of-the-screen leaders who  interact 1:1 with customers every day. And as the Disneys, Zappos, and Ritz-Carltons of the world can confirm, those experiences have a profound impact on each customer’s perception of your brand. That’s why customer service enablement and training is needed, and needed now, despite your organization’s  size or industry.

Enter these four tips. Whether you have a well-established onboarding and ongoing training program in place, or your team is brand new to customer service enablement, this blog post has something for you. Let’s explore four ways you can start implementing some customer service enablement best practices today. 

1. Assess where you’re at.

At Lessonly, we have a six-part framework—The Better Work Maturity Model—for building training that works, and Assess is the first step. Great assessments typically start by collecting data from your team and the market to identify successes and challenges and accurately evaluate your team’s training needs. But this is more than just asking questions in passing. Here are three tips to help you gather the data you need to build out your program:

Practice appreciative inquiry: Create surveys with thoughtful questions and host interviews with key trainers and leaders on your team to find out what’s working well for agents right now and what needs some work.

Consider the data: As you assess what training is needed, work backwards. What metrics does your department own? How could training move the needle on those metrics? What are market leaders doing that you’re not?

Talk to your supervisors: The supervisors of the customer service teams you’re enabling and training, especially at enterprise-level organizations, are likely answering similar questions across their teams. Answering the same question over and over again or escalating the same situation day after day are just two things supervisors will have a pulse on. And two training gaps you’ll be able to fill.

2. Track the metrics that make the most sense for your team.

This one feels like a no-brainer, but it’s way harder than it seems. Most customer service leaders are either drowning in data and unable to truly focus on 5-6 metrics that matter most to their team. Or, they don’t track anything at all because they just aren’t quite sure where to start. Here’s the bottom line about customer service metrics: NPS and CSAT are the non-negotiable things to track. But everything else? Those metrics should be customized to your specific team’s needs.

Ask yourself what matters most at your specific contact center. Speed and efficiency? Or maybe quality of care and level of personalization? A healthy blend of those two things? Some of the most popular metrics to keep track of are the Lifetime Value of a Customer, Average Handle Time (AHT), First-Call Resolution (FCR), Customer Efforts Score (CES), and escalations. But truly, identify the areas you’re leading and the areas you’re lagging, and track both of those metrics. This will help your team celebrate wins, while improving weaknesses and overall performance.

One final caveat: Tracking these things manually and without the right tools is a pain. For help finding the right tech to track these metrics, check out Lessonly’s free Customer Service Enablement 101 certification and head to Class 2, Section 4, with Kelsey.

3. Drive actual results with microlearning.

How many times have we sat through day-long training programs, only to walk away thinking, “I’m not sure I’m going to remember any of that.”  The fact of the matter is, we have ever-shortening attention spans.. But, we’re still curious and eager to learn, so naturally, we crave content that’s short and easily digestible. That’s why we recommend microlearning. More often than not, this looks like bite-sized online lessons or quick, chat conversation practice exercises in the customer service world. According to Gallup, this is how you build training programs that are more transformational than transactional.

There’s also a secret to making microlearning even more useful: Interactivity. Agent confidence skyrockets with small repetitions and refinements of their most common interactions. Thoughtful chat, email, phone, and video practice for an agent is the secret to becoming 1% better at their job every day. The more videos, gifs, knowledge checks, and practice exercises with chat, email, phone interactions, the better. It’s one thing to read about how to do a job well, it’s a whole other to actually practice it and send it off for feedback. (We’ll talk more about this in the next section.)

One more thing on this one: Tracking how successfully or extensively someone is training with their actual results and customer satisfaction is key. This sheds light on knowledge gaps, areas for coaching, and provides general clarity into an agent’s performance.

4. Get essential feedback. 

“Feedback is a gift.” This is a saying that Scott Cook, one of our Services Delivery Managers, took this phrase from one of his clients and uses often. What does great feedback on training look like though?

Share before you’re ready: Don’t author or create training content in a vacuum, and don’t let perfect become the enemy of good. Effective training should be valuable and focused on the learner. Be prepared to make changes in order to make sure it’s hitting the mark for them. With something as easy to edit as Lessonly, you can make changes on the fly very quickly. 

Let your experts weigh in: The first people who should see new training are your experienced agents who can point out gaps. Figure out who your rockstars are, and then use them in an advisory and editorial capacity. Lean on your high performers and SMEs and ask them to review training. They’ll know better than anyone if it’s relevant, meaningful, and worth rolling out.

Last thing, make it easy: Encourage your learners to leave feedback early and often once you deploy training. Create a feedback loop, and be mindful and intentional about responding to feedback and incorporating suggested changes. The more learners see that their feedback is being addressed, the more they will share, This creates an endless cycle of improvement, and learners feel just as invested in the content as trainers do.

Final thoughts

After learning from customer service trainers and coaches during my tenure at Lessonly, here’s what I know for sure: Investing in your customers starts with investing in your agents. Creating world-class customer service enablement is one of the best plays in the book if you’re working to put your customers first and ultimately drive more revenue.

 

Is Lessonly the secret weapon your team needs? 💛

Lessonly is powerfully simple customer service enablement software that helps leaders roll out training and change at scale. To learn more about customer service enablement or about how Lessonly helps teams like yours, click here to take a lesson for free or get certified in Customer Service Enablement 101 today. 

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