When I think about building a sustainable business and managing growth related to customer service-related departments, one word comes to mind: planning. Planning to improve, planning to grow, planning to hire, and planning to train. But how can you plan if you don’t know where to start?
The first thing you’ll need to figure out is who you want to be in your market. Then, you need to communicate that to everyone in your company. This will help you make sure that the collective actions of you and your team are moving everyone in the same direction. For example, my fictitious company has decided to become the most professional residential service provider in my area. We will completely define what that means for everyone in our organization and build our plans around that goal.
Regarding customer service, we might include some metrics, such as the number of rings until we answer the phone, booking and clarification calls, other customer-facing communications, or our process for notifying customers about schedule updates. The question, “Will this make us the most professional service provider, will it filter everything we measure and plan. If the answer is yes, then we proceed. If the answer is no, then more work is required.
Let’s get even more specific. One critical way you can improve your metrics and become a successful service provider is through scripting. We don’t intend for customer service reps (CRSs) to read scripts verbatim on every call. They’re for developing a professional plan for how you communicate with your customers. Now, even if you don’t have a formal script, your CSRs are likely saying the same sort of things each day. Ask them to write down what they’re already saying and then look at their words from a consistent point of view. Then, edit them down into a “best of” list of what everyone is already saying.
When scripting, it’s also essential to make sure that your company follows the basic customer service rules. Did your CSRs identify the company right away? Did they give their name so customers know a human being is on the other end of the line? Did they express genuine empathy for the customer and the problem they were calling about, and then assure them that they called the right place to solve their issue(s)?
Take your “best of” lists of what your CSRs are already saying, add in the basic rules of customer service, and make a rough draft of your phone-answering script. Once you’ve got a rough draft, bring it to the customer service team. Hold a meeting where each person on the team takes a turn reading the script. Then, have a discussion that’s open to all comments. You are looking for complete team buy-in here. Hopefully, your team members will have some suggestions or proposed changes to incorporate into your draft. People are much more likely to adapt to change they helped create rather than embracing something forced upon them without input. Explain to them that the reason behind creating the script was to deliver better and more consistent customer service and to make it easier to train new people as your company grows.
I’m focusing on scripts because most companies that don’t use one also have the same inefficient and torturous training method. It commonly sounds something like this: “Welcome, today you are going to sit behind Anna and observe everything she does. You should take notes because in a few days you will be answering calls yourself. Let me know if you have any questions.”
Whoa. This means that your call center answering standard is dictated by whichever employee you’ve selected to be the trainer. This might not seem like a significant risk to you right now, but think about using this process at your company after it has doubled in size.
You need better processes. You need to plan your scripts; you need to plan how you train your CSRs. The more work you do now to standardize your call center onboarding, the easier it will be to adapt to growth in the future. u
Tom Merriott is a Talent and Marketing Coach Manager at Nexstar Network who focuses on coaching great coaches. He brings years of industry experience from independent HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors, as well as national home services providers. Contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take your “best of” lists of what your CSRs are already saying, add in the basic rules of customer service, and make a rough draft of your phone-answering script.
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