4 tips for building a B2B customer support team
Building a great customer support team isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. Especially if it’s your first time making a team on your own, the task can be daunting and full of risk. The employees you hire not only represent your company but also your judge of character and instincts. You’ll be praised if you make the right hires, but add too many employees that are the wrong fit and it doesn’t bode well for career advancement.
When you’re creating a team from the ground up, finding the right people to ignite and foster the environment for a great customer support team makes all the difference. In B2B customer support, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution or a blueprint for every company, which means hiring these employees isn’t a simple process. They’re in high demand and just because you know an excellent support agent doesn’t mean their skills will directly translate to your company. Building a team to specifically meet your needs and fit your company culture is a unique undertaking, but it’s crucial to success.
With all of this said, here are 4 tips for building a B2B customer support team…
1) Employee attitude is MORE important than capabilities – When looking to hire employees, especially if they are the first members of your team, finding the right people to set the tone of your group is more important than the specific skills and experience they provide. Resumes don’t always tell the whole story, so make sure you meet with prospective employees multiple times and in different settings to see how they fit in with your company. Don’t hesitate to have multiple colleagues conduct interviews, even if their responsibilities aren’t related to support, and have them evaluate how the prospect would mesh with your overall team. You want employees that can be trained quickly, will work hard, and will have a positive attitude every day as they solve the issues of your customers.
2) Always hire team members with skills that overlap – Modern customer support is more than just talking on the phone all day. Companies now seek out employees with an array of different skills to complement each other. Some agents excel at chat, while others may do their best work over the phone or in email correspondence. Create a customer support team with agents that excel in different areas so the support experience is consistent across all channels. However, don’t always go directly for the specialist, even if they are excellent at one area of support. Mix in agents that are good at multiple channels so they can be flexible as support volumes fluctuate. Sometimes having an agent that is “good” at phone, chat, and email support is better than a single agent that is “great” in one area but very weak in others.
3) Boost efficiency with the right technology – Even if you have a great team, failing to provide them with the right technology and tools for your industry can lead to catastrophic failure. Avoid this by selecting the right customer support software solution to increase not only customer satisfaction but also employee morale. The ideal solution for your industry improves collaboration, makes agents “smarter” with customers, and highlights invaluable data points for a leader of a support team. Software can make it easy to pinpoint trends in the workplace and with your group. For example, a company noticed that Thursday is consistently the day with the lowest number of closed tickets. Even though they have an awesome support team, the manager noticed that on Thursdays they didn’t have enough people with skills in phone support, meaning too much time was being wasted in chat and email conversations. A simple staffing change led to a noticeable boost in productivity, and chat agents were happier because they didn’t need to answer the phone as often.
4) Always remember each employee responds to feedback differently – Lastly, and this is an important soft skill to refine, always be aware of the unique personality of each employee on your team. Every agent will respond to feedback differently – some thrive on praise while others prefer constructive criticism – and it’s important to know how every single employee responds to comments about their work. You can have the best people and the best technology but if you, as a leader, can’t communicate properly then the support team will never reach its full potential. Take the time to get to know each person on the team better in a more impersonal setting, such as lunch or even a team building event. Letting an employee know they’ve done a great job is one thing, but creating an actual bond with them through shared experiences is what really cements workplace loyalty.
That all-star support team your customers deserve won’t build itself, but at the same time don’t rush in creating it. Build a team that has the right skills and, more importantly, a great attitude in solving problems to improve customer loyalty. Empower this team with the right customer support software so they can utilize their skills to their maximum potential. Once you have the employees and technology in place, maintain the team by treating each individual agent like a person and providing feedback to them in the right way. Properly building your customer support team from the start can seem like a daunting process, but when created correctly it unlocks an incredible value proposition for your company that becomes one of the best competitive advantages in any industry.
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Robert C. Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport.com, a cloud-based, B2B software application built to help customer-facing support teams serve clients better through stronger collaboration, superior teamwork, and faster issue resolution. A seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-...