Customer service management (CSM) refers to how companies facilitate customer interactions. Here’s how your CSM strategy can improve your customer support.
Here’s a secret about great customer service: It’s not easy. Even the most helpful and supportive customer service teams, the ones that make it look effortless, are working hard behind the scenes to deliver a fantastic customer experience. Maintaining positive customer relationships takes hard work, tools, and strategy.
That’s where customer service management comes in. Customer service management is an umbrella term that describes the practices, tools, and strategies you use to provide a high-quality customer experience.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of customer service management and how using the right technology can help simplify your customer service processes.
Customer service refers to any and all interactions between your customers and your support reps. Customer service management (CSM) is how you facilitate, track, and streamline those interactions using team management and coaching, workflows, automation, telecommunications tools, and other technologies.
These might include CRM (customer relationship management) software, omnichannel customer support software, a self-service knowledge base, and even chatbots.
But a big part of customer service management takes place at a strategic level, such as deciding which support channels to invest in and whether or not to outsource customer support to a third party. Another important piece is how you hire, train, and coach your team.
Good customer service management starts with hiring team members who have the skills to tackle a wide range of customer requests and who are able to continuously grow and improve to provide a great customer service experience.
Young start-ups may employ “all-hands support,” in which everyone on the team handles customer questions and problems, regardless of role, experience, or training. But eventually, most companies will hire dedicated customer service representatives who can offer thorough, helpful, real-time solutions while building relationships with customers. That added expertise and capacity will allow you to expand into new communication channels, including live chat support, email, phone, and social media.
Once you hire a dedicated support team, employing a customer service management strategy is a key way to further improve resolution times and overall experiences. CSM gives support reps a clear process for addressing customer issues and allows them to store customer information in a central database. (This can help you follow up after each customer interaction.)
Plus, CSM tools can help your team by routing requests to the correct agents, and tracking metrics like customer retention and customer satisfaction.
To unlock all of these benefits, you’ll need to use the right customer service software, hire customer service reps who know how to use it, and offer continuous training to them.
Too often, companies add on new tools without stopping to assess how they all work together. Understanding these relationships is key.
For example, onboarding webinars can be a great way to engage new customers, while customer loyalty programs can reduce churn among existing ones. Aligning your tools and communications strategies with a cohesive strategy that meets their needs at each point on the customer journey is crucial to achieving a great customer experience.
Using a number of technologies, channels, and programs, like knowledge bases, chatbots, video tutorials, or social media listening may already be a part of your customer service strategy. To really unlock their potential to provide amazing customer service, the next step is to align them all together in a comprehensive CSM program that meets customers whenever and wherever they need help.
Technology should be a key part of your customer service management strategy. Here are five benefits of customer service management technology that apply to nearly any business:
Customer service tools can streamline the customer service process by making sure the right associate gets the right messages at the right times. By intelligently routing calls, chats, or email support inquiries to the correct associate and displaying customer data in a central place, customers will spend less time on hold, repeating their story to multiple agents, or waiting for a response.
CSM tools allow you to automate many customer service operations. From AI-powered chatbots that can onboard new customers or answer common questions, to sending follow-up surveys and offering contextual guidance messages, automation can quickly help customers and allow your team members to focus on complex issues.
Omnichannel customer support makes it easy for customers to contact you using their preferred communications channel. It helps customer service reps continue a conversation where it left off, whether it originated at a call center or on a social media platform.
Many customers would prefer to troubleshoot a problem themselves before reaching out to a company’s contact center. An in-depth knowledge base allows customers to resolve issues on their own using guided tutorials or product walkthroughs.
Ultimately, good customer service management is all about customer satisfaction. With CSM tools, you can get to know your customers better by building customized profiles based on prior interactions or sales history, which allows you to provide a more personalized experience that makes your customers feel valued and understood.
Customer service management isn’t a cut-and-paste solution. It takes time and effort to understand what problems you’re trying to solve, and design a CSM strategy to meet your unique needs. Before rolling out a new CSM strategy, follow these three steps:
Before you create an effective CSM strategy, you need to identify the gaps in your current customer service approach. Maybe your company is growing so quickly that your team needs help keeping up with customer requests, or your customers would benefit from additional support channels, such as a call center or self-service knowledge base.
Whatever your reasons, knowing which parts of your customer service operations need improvement will help you find the right solutions at the right price.
Next, determine which technologies you’ll need to implement your CSM strategy. You can either find tools that integrate well with your existing CRM software or develop a new workflow from scratch.
It may not be the right time to invest in more tools or expanded support infrastructure. In these cases, you may want to consider customer service outsourcing. This way, you can expand your team without buying new equipment or office space yourself. (And your outsourcing partner can help you understand what software you really need and choose the best tools for the job.)
Finally, it’s time to retrain your customer service team on your new software and approach, or recruit additional team members. Turnover in the customer service industry can be high, so by training your team properly – or outsourcing the work to experienced customer service associates – you can better position yourself for success. Training is an important part of onboarding new team members, but it doesn’t stop there. A good CSM strategy will also include plans and built-in time for continuous training and upskilling for existing associates.
Customer service management is a continuously evolving process, so revisit your strategy often to ensure that it’s still working effectively.
Here are three CSM best practices to help your team succeed:
A customer service manager is responsible for handling the day-to-day activities of their team. But frontline customer service associates can’t take care of everything, and some customer issues may need to be escalated or passed along to a different team. Ensure that your service reps know their roles and responsibilities, so they can clearly tell customers how they can assist them. Develop a straightforward and consistent escalation policy, so associates know when to pass difficult customer problems on to another team.
Once you’ve implemented a customer service management strategy, more and more tasks can be automated. But don’t underestimate the decisions that your customer service associates will make along the way.
By communicating your values and mission statement with your associates and clarifying how your process reflects these values, your team can authentically represent your company to customers. They can bring their own insights and discretion to the table without straying from your company’s values.
Having a clear understanding of your values and mission is also crucially important to getting the most from an outsourcing relationship. Your outsourcing partner will be better able to represent your company if you can coherently communicate what your company stands for.
Customer service management tools make it easier to track metrics like response time and resolution time, as well as other KPIs like escalation rate and abandon rate. By continually reviewing these metrics, you’ll know how to adjust your CSM practices to improve the overall customer experience. You’ll be able to see where your team needs help, and where your process needs improvement.
Customer service outsourcing has many benefits, such as freeing up your own team to focus on core responsibilities, offering coverage in many time zones, and cost savings. Before you outsource customer service management, here are three things to consider:
Customer service outsourcing is often more cost-effective than hiring team members to perform the same work in-house. That’s because you won’t have to invest as much in recruiting and infrastructure, and you may benefit from lower operational costs if you outsource your customer service tasks to an offshore team.
Still, every company is different, so you’ll need to compare pricing models to see which type of outsourcing makes the most sense for your business.
Cost isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing between onshore, offshore, and nearshore outsourcing. Offshore outsourcing makes it easier to provide coverage in multiple time zones and implement a follow-the-sun customer service model.
But overlapping business hours and more cultural similarities can make nearshore or onshore models more attractive for some teams.
If you’re a growing company or startup, it can be hard to predict how many customer service associates you need. Customer service outsourcing can offer more flexibility than hiring full-time employees for your in-house team.
Whether you want a dedicated customer service team that only works for your company, or an on-demand team that’s available when you need them, flexible contracts make it easy to scale up or down as it makes sense for your business.
If customer service is an art, customer service management is the science behind it. With the latest customer service tools, you can streamline key steps in the customer service process, ultimately improving customer satisfaction and reducing resolution time.
When you choose PartnerHero for customer service outsourcing, you’ll benefit from the latest technologies and our highly-skilled customer service managers and associates.
Our offshore teams are based in South Africa, Honduras, the Philippines, Romania, and other key regions to ensure round-the-clock coverage and a range of cultural expertise.