Every company wants to deliver a five-star experience to every customer. But often, despite trying hard, they don’t quite deliver. Sometimes support teams just fail to be available for customers when they need to be. There’s no one factor that causes it; there are plenty of things that can bog down your support center. Here are some situations that can foil your efforts to be available for your customers.

Tickets, tickets everywhere

Often, what looks like multitasking could just mean you’re not able to give enough attention to any one thing. If your agents are overloaded with tickets, they will not be able to give each customer the attention they deserve. Every day, there might be a few tickets that don’t get finished. So the next day the agent not only has their regular day’s work, but also the previous day’s backlog. This might seem manageable, but it can wreak havoc on your team’s performance. Customers receive delayed responses because agents are swamped. The delay makes them submit more tickets, which only increases the pile and stresses out the agents more. This vicious cycle makes your brand seem unresponsive and unreliable.

– Agents rush through their ticket lists as fast as possible, leading to inaccurate and sub-standard responses.

– Constant backlogs wear down agents’ enthusiasm, which shows in their interactions with customers. Dealing with this on a regular basis makes agents feel exhausted and unmotivated. They feel ineffective, frustrated, and cynical, and as a result, they’re simply not as efficient at their work anymore. We call this Agent Burnout—the point of no return.

It’s in everybody’s best interests to understand an agent’s capacity. Giving them a workload they can consistently clear ensures that they’re able to attend to customers quicker and better.

2 a.m. woes

If your service or product is used by customers throughout the day, it makes sense to provide support throughout the day as well. Doing so makes your company appear much more sensitive towards customer needs. For example, if you’re a video gaming brand, a lot of your customers are likely to use your products at night. So having a team of agents available overnight will show the customers that you’re paying attention to their needs. Identifying who your customers are and what their needs are, helps you serve them better and utilize your resources well.

It might be tempting to try to provide 24/7 service, but it’s unwise to attempt it if it’s not within your capacity yet. If you’re not providing round-the-clock service, just let your customers know what the expected response time is. This way, the customer knows when to expect a reply, which reduces their anxiety. It also reduces the number of tickets they raise. In turn, this reduces the backlogs that agents have to deal with, especially after weekends or holidays. Here’s how you can optimize this positive chain reaction:

– Set up a Knowledge Base filled with help articles and FAQs, so customers have a go-to when they require immediate help, whether your agents are available or not.

– Enable customer forums where customers can interact amongst themselves and help each other out. Sometimes these groups become more than just a place to get answers – superusers become brand ambassadors, and user discussions lead to feature ideas. What starts as a help forum might even think up your brand’s next big release!

– Publish short video tutorials that the customers can use to solve their problems on their own. 

Call for backup 

You have a well-organized team, with all your agents on track to meet their goals. Everything’s going smoothly, and you have a good grip on the team’s ticket load. But one fine day, one of your agents is not at work. They’re away taking care of an emergency, and all their tickets are piling up, waiting for them to return. This kind of unexpected short-staffing can cause a lot of damage if not noticed, but there are a few things you can do to fix it.

Redirecting all of their tickets to other agents might work, but make sure that this doesn’t overburden anyone. You can ensure fair play using a round robin feature or appropriate SLAs. Beware—overexerting your agents will definitely affect the service they provide and could end up having the opposite effect of what you intended.

Depending on your company structure, you might also be able to ask people from other departments to pitch in. This could not only solve the pile-up but also give others the opportunity to interact with customers. 

It’s that time of the year again

The most exciting time of the year for a majority of people is, in fact, the most trying time for brands and their customer service teams. You’ll need to know ahead of time what exactly you’ll be facing. How many customers? How many tickets? How bad can it get? How do you handle all this and do a little extra to stand out as a brand?

Data from previous years and keen observation of your competitors can help you figure this out. Here are a few practical steps you can take to have a happy holiday season:

– See which channel the customers use most to contact you, and focusing on keeping just that channel open during the holidays. It’s best to notify customers about this in advance.

– The holidays are a time to keep your employees happy too! Especially since it’s a stressful time for them. Making sure they’re well trained in advance, and giving them perks like work-from-home or half-day options during this time, will never go unappreciated.

The fault in your numbers

A lot of call centers evaluate customer service agents by the number of replies they have sent per day, rather than the quality of the help they provide. But it’s obvious that the fastest response is not necessarily the best response.

Quantitative targets are bad enough, but unrealistic ones are infinitely worse. Suppose you give your agents a target of 500 emails a day, with rewards for those who meet the target. You’ve just put a ton of pressure on every member of the team, which is guaranteed to stress them out. Stressed employees don’t do their best or fastest work, and that amount of pressure is bad for their health, leading to higher turnover.

Besides, for an agent to meet the target, they’ll have to prioritize quantity over quality; there isn’t enough time in a day to create 500 high-quality responses. Your team of stressed-out agents might send thousands of emails, but they won’t be anywhere near the quality you’d get from a team of happy agents with manageable workloads. So your attempt to boost your team’s productivity by aiming for big numbers can actually backfire and do lasting damage to your brand image.

What you can do instead is offer rewards based on a combination of how fast agents respond and how much effort they make to help the customer out.

Most of the time, the reason a customer doesn’t get enough help from a brand is that the brand’s team is too busy tackling internal problems like the ones we’ve just described. As the popular saying goes, what happens on the inside shows on the outside. So get your team on track, work out the kinks in your system, and go wow some customers today!

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