This post originally appeared on OpenView’s blog. You can check it out right here!
Let’s kick this post off with a quick exercise.
Alright—raise your hand if you think there’s value in developing a sales enablement strategy at your start-up?
Okay, now raise your hand if you think it’s vital to have a customer service enablement strategy, too?
If you’re like most people, this is how you feel. And up until recently, I felt the exact same way. I’ve never met anyone with a job title that includes “customer service enablement” in the same way people build a sales enablement career path. The fact of the matter is, customer success operations jobs don’t really exist and customer service enablement isn’t exactly a field of its own. Yet.
Over the past several months, I’ve been working on a project that’s uncovered why it’s time to make customer service enablement a category of its own. After chatting with customer service training leaders, researching the long-term impact great customer service can have on a company, and learning from agents themselves, it’s clear to me now that customer service is truly the secret sauce that leads to better CS ops and customer service success. And subsequently, it also leads to sales and customer success, attrition, NPS, CSAT, referrals, company growth, and more.
How can I be so sure?
Customer service agents are constantly interacting with customers one-on-one, and your customers are the people driving revenue. Your agents are the voices and faces defining your business for your customers, so whether you’ve got a team of one or 1,000, investing in the training and development of your frontline folks is critical in making every customer interaction a win.
Another reason I’m convinced now is the time for companies of all sizes across all industries to prioritize customer service enablement is this: the numbers. These stats don’t lie, my friends.
- A study by QATC found that industry turnover for customer service averages between 30-45% annually, compared to the U.S. average of 15%. And in 2019, large support teams fully turned over by nearly 50%, in large part due to a lack of training.
- It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience, according to Qualtrics.
- This year (2020), Dimensional Research and Zendesk did a study asking consumers what impacts their level of trust with a company. Offering excellent customer service ranked as the #1 factor.
- Based on a study from the Harris Interactive, 89% of consumers have switched to doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.
- Based on feedback from 3,500 service leaders and agents, Salesforce’s 3rd Annual State of Service Review cites that the top five customer service priorities in 2019 were…
- Improving workforce skills
- Improving processes and workflows
- Improving service technologies
- Integrating service across the business
- Pivoting from a cost center to a profit center
This list of stats that support the value of fantastic customer interactions could go on forever, but for the sake of moving forward, I think it’s also important to introduce the three big buckets of customer success enablement and customer service enablement. What are the fundamentals of customer service? Here’s a high-level look at how to create enablement that reps adopt and enjoy and managers can roll-out at scale.
- Develop – Great enablement starts when you first assess where your training is today.
- Design – When you know where you’re at, you then can design where you want to go.
- Deploy – Once you’ve got a plan, you roll it out and start the process again.
Let’s dive into each of these a bit more.
Okay, so we know that world-class enablement starts with super intentional planning, right? And intentional planning starts with taking a step back and assessing where your team is right now and where you want to go. In practice, this looks like gathering feedback from your reps on what could be better about their roles, looking to the market to identify successes and trends at other places, and then analyzing all of the qualitative and quantitative data you get to sufficiently evaluate your team’s training status and subsequent needs.
Great questions to ask include:
- Where are the biggest knowledge gaps for reps?
- How can the onboarding process be smoother?
- What are the leading and lagging indicators? (For example, of the metrics that you keep track of, whether it’s NPS, CSAT, AHT, the lifetime value of a customer, or any of the dozens others to choose from, which ones are thriving and which ones need attention?)
- What are your competitors doing?
Now that you know where you’re at, here are three quick customer success operations best practices that customer service enablement programs that drive results follow:
- Keep lessons under 15 minutes. There’s no need to string together an hour-long training. Instead, people prefer information that’s short, sweet, and to the point. And if they have questions, they can always go back and refer to what they learned later.
- Include videos, gifs, knowledge check, and practice exercises across chat, email, phone, and video.. There’s tons of value in comprehensive training, and there’s even more value in training with variety. Attention spans are short, and that’s something to lean into. By creating multifaceted training, learning feels less like a burden and more like value, simply because it’s entertaining.
- Get feedback throughout and share before you’re ready. Training is for your agents, so create feedback loops that will help you gauge if it’s actually working. As you build training, ask questions or send surveys. A lot of LMSs will allow you to gather feedback right in the tool to hear what’s working and uncover gaps if that makes sense for your business.
The last step is rolling out enablement. And, while this step is simple to say, it’s harder to actually do. After working with other service industry leaders, here’s my best piece of advice: Tell your team when training is coming their way, and then set deadlines. People are more willing to adopt something when they understand what’s in it for them, so clearly articulate the purpose of the training. By understanding its relevance and importance, agents will be more likely to give their time and attention to it.
And then, like all good processes and strategies, iterate. Customer service enablement will need to change as your business changes, as your team pivots, and as the world around us evolves, too.
My hope is that this article has the gears in your brain turning about how your team currently approaches training and investing in your customer service agents, and what you can do in the future to impact your bottom line and truly grow your reputation and your agents as individuals with great customer experience enablement.
If you’re looking for a great next step, we’ve got the resource for you. Check out our new Customer Service Enablement 101 Certification. It features five free classes that will help leaders who are ready to learn and grow their customer service enablement knowledge. If you have any questions at all, if you learned anything, or if you simply want to connect, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading!
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