Table of ContentsEverything you need to know about customer support team structure
Providing exceptional customer service goes beyond simply making people happy. This makes having to structure a customer service department all the more challenging. The people hired in this team will be directly responsible for the outcome of customer-facing contact as well as providing ample support when and where it is needed. You can invest sizeable funds in infrastructure, software, and tools, but if you hire the wrong people, your customer service structure may collapse.
Let’s say you already have one in place, but you want to better structure the customer service department and take their service level to higher highs, or you’re looking into putting together a customer service team structure from scratch. If you are successful in doing so, your business can enjoy the following benefits:
More opportunities for the business and career advancements – Good customer service means growth for the business; hence, more people are needed to fill new roles. Likewise, longtime employees can look forward to moving up in the hierarchy.
A community environment – An outstanding customer service structure fosters not only the spirit of teamwork but a deeper bond of a community – people often looking after one another even beyond the walls of the workplace.
Better day-by-day operations – A well-built customer service structure is less likely to repeat the same, sometimes costly, mistakes, leading to less stress and the elimination of miscommunications or confusion among team members.
Fair-minded management and leadership – Decision-making at the higher levels is easier to get done, and responsibility in said decisions made are effortlessly when shared because there’s minimal fear of failure.
If you don’t know how or where to start with your customer service team structure, here is a guide that can help you from beginning to end.
In order for something to begin, it needs a reason for being. Why are you working on structuring the customer service department? What do you hope to achieve? What do you see your customer service structure accomplishing in the future? To help guide your customer service team to success, you need a vision and goal to reach for.
What does customer service mean to you and your company? What does good customer service look like for you? Write your answers down and formulate your vision and goal around those answers. Share these with your team and make sure they understand how significant their roles are in meeting these visions and goals.
The only way for your customer service team structure to succeed is by knowing what your customers need regarding support and service. Companies oftentimes make this part of customer service guesswork which can lead to a waste of resources, effort, and time, not to mention the cost. Get to know your customers first – their questions, concerns, uncertainties, wants, and needs.
To find out what customers need, conduct focus group discussions and release surveys. Be prepared for every kind of feedback and use each and every one of them to formulate a plan for your structure of the customer service department. Only then can you even begin to hope for success.
Hiring the right people for your customer service organizational structure means hiring with the customer in mind after determining what the vision and goal are as well as the customer's needs. You can teach skill – that’s what training is for. What you cannot train for is the attitude, patience, and maturity for a customer service job.
Learning how to structure your customer service department means finding people with the heart for customer service. These are the people who can interact with customers even on their worst days and be able to turn their frowns upside down, so to speak. They must have the appropriate mindset and disposition to be able to function in the team correctly and consistently deliver the optimum care.
You’ve done well if you know you’ve hired the right employees to help you structure the customer service department. These people have the natural ability to empathize with and speak to customers. However, there are always a lot of added benefits to appropriate training and regular coaching.
The training should focus on how the tools you have on hand can aid them in providing customers with extraordinary care and support. Training should also cover the many ways the team can troubleshoot a tricky situation to enable the customer to still be satisfied with the resolution offered. Training topics can include:
Responding to customer complaints
Being responsive to customers
Meeting the needs of customers
How to successfully perform “service recovery” or winning back a customer who’s had a negative experience with your company
How to properly open and end phone calls, chat communications, and emails
Your company’s standard of quality care and service
Regular coaching means checking in with your team during scheduled sessions to make sure they have not lost sight of the goals or have not fallen behind in the required know-how to do the job as they are supposed to.
Provide your employees with the necessary from time to time, so they’re abreast with the times when it comes to new tools or strategies for providing remarkable customer service. Put a knowledge base in place where all the information is kept current. This way, your team has something to come and refer to if they need clarification or guidance on anything.
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It all begins at the hiring phase. You should be able to sift through applicants to identify those who are worthy of being part of your customer service team structure. From day one, employees should have a good grasp of the job at hand and a clear understanding of how their interactions with customers directly affect the company and its overall performance. They should be well prepared for the task and more than willing and able to provide your customers with only the best of the best in terms of care, service, and support.
If it happens that some employees fall short of the set expectations, make sure that there is a performance management plan in place. You can use customer satisfaction surveys and customer feedback to confront employees with whenever they are not delivering as they should. Draft a plan of action to take whenever they are not demonstrating the behaviors that they should.
Put together a Quality Assurance team with a well-formed evaluation sheet to use when rating your team’s performance. Keep your eye on the outliers and repeat offenders and if someone crosses the line, address the behavior immediately. Create a performance management plan that will enable you to help those that are falling short of the vision and goals you have set for your customer service structure.
Obtaining an unbiased, thorough, and watchful QA team will help you see the flaws in your team’s performance and come up with ways to correct them. Having this type of system aids in avoiding mistakes, oversights, and errors that will only lead to dissatisfied customers. Since QA teams also provide uptraining and coaching when needed, they can also assist in keeping your team motivated and inspired to do better.
The customer communication channel you’ve chosen is of no consequence if you’re not able to acquire the right tools for the job – a live chat channel, an email ticketing system, telephony, or a dedicated business phone line. Keep in mind that many people also now prefer to use social media, self-service knowledge base, and public forums, so you need to be alert on all fronts.
You will also need a customer relationship management tool (CRM) that keeps all of your customer interactions and information safe and available for anyone to access at any time. Make room in your layout for how you structure your customer service team for the necessary tools that you should also acquire. It’s one of the factors that will contribute to your team’s efficiency.
Reward and recognize exceptional customer service and support
Just as there is a foolproof customer service team structure, there should also be a well-thought-out system for rewards and recognition for employees who go above and beyond to provide incomparable service and support to customers. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be an over-the-top grand gesture. Something as simple as a free lunch, movie tickets, or a gift certificate for gas or food will go a long way in making employees feel appreciated and valued. Even an appreciation badge in their employee profile is big.
Set a target like a namedrop in a customer’s survey feedback or a commendation made to supervisors, or even a high QA score. Create a distinction between doing the minimum and giving the job 110%. This will motivate your team to think outside of the box and go beyond the norm to provide your customers with only the best of the best when it comes to the standard of care and service.
Make constant communication one of the top priorities in your customer service structure. Whether it’s about the work or some lighthearted banter to strengthen the bonds of teamwork and camaraderie, do it. It doesn’t have to be formal all the time or by the book. You can have discussions about every day, mundane things to make employees feel seen and cared for.
Providing feedback is key to finding out how you’re doing on the job. Someone can think they’re doing so well only to find out otherwise when coaching time rolls around. Conduct weekly touch-base sessions with your team, and show them their numbers and their standing in the team. However, leave some room for fun conversations to be had from time to time as well. Whether it’s video calls, instant messaging, or voice calls, it’s essential to let employees know your providential door is always open to them.
Show your customer service team that you genuinely care for them
Think about it: how will your team empathize with customers if they’ve never known or felt it from you? Will there be any hope that your employees will be able to think critically or creatively to iron out tricky situations, resolve issues and diffuse rising tempers if they have never been taught how to? Your employees are your internal customers too, and knowing this should drive you to make certain that they know you care for them as well.
A five-minute check in anytime during the day is sometimes all it takes. A little note encouraging them to keep their chins up or a quiet word to check if everything is alright outside of the office if you notice someone’s performance is slipping can do wonders for the spirit. If you want to inspire your team to really care about their customers, you need to first show them what it means to care.
Dealing with customers, especially if the interactions are over the phone or face to face, can be exhausting. Your customer service team needs to be strong, innovative, and positive if you want them to do well and thrive on the job. When you structure the customer service department, keep the customer in mind along with their needs, issues, and questions. Having a clear vision and infallible customer service strategy is critical to the success of your customer service structure. However, leave room in the focus for your employees as well.
Identify who your customers are, what their needs and wants are, and cultivate a strategy to meet those requirements. Once you’re done, do the same for your team. Building a strong team and knowing how to keep it solid is imperative in keeping your customer service structure from crumbling even when the job gets too demanding.
A customer service department comprises people hired to provide specific services such as locating a product, completing an order, upselling, and providing after-sales care. A customer service department’s work with a customer is not done unless it’s confirmed that there are no issues left to resolve.
Customer service is important in keeping a business viable, profitable, and reputable. It inspires customers to be loyal to your brand and spread your company’s good practices by word of mouth, gaining more business for your company in the process. Happy customers can also help lower costs and retain good employees.
The 5 levels of customer service are as follows: