The pillars that are driving a superior customer service experience are changing. It used to be that just answering a customer’s question correctly and in a somewhat timely manner would cut it — but in 2016 that’s not so. Your customers carry more devices, and are more connected, informed and empowered. Today’s ultra-smart customer demands connected, seamless interactions, experiences where they can choose the service that best suits their needs and consistently offers personalized journeys across all devices. More often than not, the future of business success often depends on whether companies can deliver on those expectations.


Creating a superior customer experience starts from the top — executives must be willing to prioritize experience in the Age of the Customer. Part of that means hiring and enabling a stellar customer support team that’s willing and ready to put the customer first — always.


1. Arm them with the right insights

If customer insights come in the form of an annual survey or quarterly focus group, your company is not in a position to act quickly. When customers want service provided in a new channel, or when retention numbers are slipping, your business is way behind. It’s critical you act on that information in real time. Tools such as Service Wave Analytics make sure that your customer support teams are armed with the insights they need — on their customers and on their own performance — so they can personalize the service experience for each and every customer.


2. Invest in your own people

Often support roles can feel like a stepping stone to bigger, better things (probably at a different company). It’s no secret why — historically, customer service jobs have little-to-no upward mobility and limited training opportunities. The customer support field is changing rapidly as customers demand more channels and faster, personalized experiences. You can offer your agents numerous training opportunities in order to keep them engaged and help them gain new skills. Additionally, open up existing leadership training opportunities to all your employees — including your support team.


3. Measure the right things

Figure out the metrics that matter most to you, and if they’re the right indicators. Does the number of case closures truly identify whether or not the customer had an excellent experience? Identify what you believe will mean success for your customers – perhaps its speed — and then design your metrics based on that understanding.


4. Keep productivity top-of-mind

It’s impossible for your agents to know absolutely everything to answer every question — even your most powerhouse agent will come across a tricky case every now and then. But when the clock is ticking and your customer is looking for answers, you need technology to step in and help. Tools like Service Cloud Lightning do the heavy lifting for you by automating tedious processes and delivering the right information instantaneously. With knowledge articles, subject-matter experts, and extensive customer profiles right at their fingertips, agents have what they need to deliver a complete, personalized answer to every customer inquiry, lightning fast.


5. Think self-service first

Superior service means providing a plethora of options for your customers to answer their own questions without picking up the phone or sending an email. Consider this: 34% of millennials say they’d rather get their teeth cleaned at the dentist than call a customer service line, according to Ouch! But in the age of omnipresent search engines, this empowered mindset isn’t all that surprising.


Self-service is a growing requirement for DIY-minded customers (and must be accessible from any device to satisfy today’s hyper-mobile customers). With a self-service community, your customers can help themselves by accessing a rich library of knowledge-based articles, as well as ask questions directly to the community and collaborate with other customers to find the answer. Not only are your customers going to be happier with mobile-first options, your agents are cleared up to tackle the trickier cases.


6. Consider gamification

There is a plenty of buzz surrounding gamification in sales, but the very same tactics can benefit contact centers as well. While targets may differ between sales and customer service teams, motivational techniques don’t have to. By bringing in real-time contests, reps can engage with colleagues, strengthening your company culture and improving center morale. Gamification brings an element of fun to an occasionally monotonous job.


7. Reward them!

Reward employees for a job well done and be certain the rewards are those that can be put to use outside of the company walls. Work-life balance is important to your employees, so if possible, keep your reward initiatives focused on helping your agents make better use of their time away from the contact center. Be it tickets to local events or gift cards, make certain your rewards recognize that your team has a life outside the office and you’re happy to help make that life more exciting


8. Give regular feedback and acknowledgement

You don’t always need to spend money on tangible rewards in order to make your team feel motivated. Quite often, a supervisor’s quick email or internal social network mention to a team member on a job well done is equally as effective as a gift certificate. Continue to celebrate even incremental successes with even the smallest acknowledgement can brighten the day of an agent dealing with an otherwise stressful shift.


An internal employee social network like Chatter makes this easier than ever. Send customized badges and highfives that are highly visible to the rest of the company helps motivate your employees and shows them your appreciation for being the gatekeepers of customer experience.


Your customers expect a service experience that is smart, personalized, and requires minimal effort on their part. Thriving support teams are excelling by meeting the customers where they are, empowering their agents with the right tools to boost productivity, and enabling customers with robust self-service options. By centralizing the business around the customer, your company will succeed in delivering the exceptional service that separates you from competitors and transforms customers into brand advocates.