When customers reach out with a question or complaint, they’re not really interested in what a service rep has gone through beforehand. They just want their issue resolved. If you’re a company employing customer service staff, though, you need to think hard about how they’re spending their time, and how you can help them be more successful and fulfilled.
Most people would probably be surprised at how a day in the life of a modern sales rep has changed. For organizations that have put in place advanced technologies like Service Cloud or Salesforce Einstein, for instance, what was once a series of manual, onerous processes have changed into something much more dynamic and data-driven.
Customer service reps might once have been limited to responding through a single channel, for instance, such as a phone call to a contact centre. They might have been struggling to work their way through a queue of customers left waiting on hold for an interminable time. Once they connected with each customer, the rep was probably forced to ask for information that had already been given to someone else — or which the customer feels the company should already know.
There may be no ideal way to structure the average day for a customer service rep, but the breakdown that follows gives you a sense of what a modernized version of their shift could look like. Given many customer service operations run 24/7 with staff working through a series of shifts, this post will leave out specific hours but walk through some of the highlights.
The Shift Begins
Customer service staff arrive but are not rushed to take to the phones, as they often were in the past. Instead, the shift begins with a review of the most relevant data from Service Cloud and related tools that show how the team is performing in terms of key metrics. These could include:
- The number of interactions managed during a given period
- The average time to resolve problems based on the nature of the problem, product and service category, or other variable
- Volume of service interactions based on channel (including phone calls, e-mails, chat or social media) and trends that stand out
This quantitative look at where the team is at could be complemented by a more qualitative conversation about what reps are hearing in terms of common or unexpected issues, lessons learned from particularly challenging interactions or potential areas of improvement. If there are specific goals the team is aiming towards, such as improving metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS), this is a good time to remind the team and talk about how they can reach them.
On The Job – Four ‘A’s’
Reps take to their stations and work through a process that maximizes their chances of being successful on each interaction. These might be just some of the steps, which we will collectively call the four “A’s”:
Assess: Data from Service Cloud provides background information on previous interactions with a particular customer, including other troubleshooting issues, account histories and so on. No more going in blind and treating each customer as a perfect stranger.
Analyze: Listening carefully to the customer (or reading, in the case of channels such as e-mail, chat or social media), the rep cross-references the issue with potential solutions within Service Cloud and other systems across the organization. This happens while looking across the other incoming service issues through various channels, which are prioritized automatically and routed across the team so that no one is left wondering when the hold music will stop.
Act: In some cases an immediate fix or answer won’t be at hand, which means using the technology to identify the appropriate person to escalate the service request. This all happens in minutes, but it may require suggesting the customer switch to a different channel — such as when a problem brought forward on social media might be resolved more quickly through a phone call, for example. In other cases it will be directing customers to self-service options like a customer portal, or looking for frequently-asked questions that can be moved to a chatbot.
Acknowledge: Service interactions may end with the rep apologizing for any inconvenience or addressing any lingering concerns or questions the customer may have. It’s a matter of making sure customers are satisfied, and maybe even delighted at the way the organization has gone above and beyond.
Training And Tutorials
It goes without saying that customer service reps need to be de facto experts on how a firm’s products and services work, but in many cases new products are being launched throughout the year, or new versions come out. That means taking time during shifts (or in some cases towards the end of the day) where they can take a deep-dive in terms of training.
This is where they ask the kinds of questions customers will ask, the potential problems they might encounter and more. These insights should not only be addressed through training, but fed into Service Cloud or sifted through by AI tools like Einstein to offer a better sense of how customer service needs for the organization will evolve in the near future.
Of course, at the end of the day customer service reps will go home, but hopefully part of their day involves moments for bonding and building comradery. Maybe it’s holding a festive lunch occasionally. Managers could organize an after-work gathering at a nearby restaurant. Even the occasional treat — like cookies or cake — to celebrate a service milestone can make a memorable difference in the team’s lives.
It’s important to remember that the staff who take care of customer service issues are people, too. They’ll have good days and bad days just like anyone else. They need their employers to notice what’s happening either way, and to be there to support them with the right technology, strategy and culture.