How confident are you that your customers are being taken care of when you’re not around? Congratulations, if you said, “very confident.” You’ve empowered your staff to maintain the standards you’ve set. If you’re still hesitating to answer the question, chances are you might need some pointers. You’re in luck. Here are some tips on empowering your team to manage customer service issues without you.
Customer service is often the differentiating factor for small businesses. Your brand depends on delivering a consistent experience. But if you’re working remotely or focused on more strategic initiatives, you can’t always be there to deliver it yourself. That’s why you’ve hired staff who can act for you to treat the customer right.
Here are some tips to maximize those staffing resources for the benefit of your customers:
Establish service policies for employees to follow. Say you have a no-questions refund policy for 90 days after purchase. Your training and initial supervision should reflect that standard. But you should also empower employees to allow exceptions within certain parameters. For example, they might offer other options to a long-time customer who’s returning something after six months. The employee could offer an exchange, a no-cost repair, or a full refund. The standard then becomes recognizing the value of a repeat customer.
Just like you manage key financial indicators, customer KPIs need to be monitored too. That might include: number of calls taken, customer retention, or satisfaction rating. By monitoring trends, you can identify issues and take corrective action. There are software programs that can automate the tracking so you can monitor the results wherever you are.
If you’re not in the store today, your employees don’t have anyone they can go to ask a question. So, develop a storehouse of information where they can find the answer. It can be as simple as a three-ring binder or as complex as an online database. It might include topics like: product features, expected shipping dates, refund policies, or how to take payments if the credit card machine breaks down. Encourage your staff to add to it as they encounter common customer questions.
There may be times when you need to meet remotely to handle a crisis or just to reassure everyone that things are running smoothly. Technology can facilitate those face-to-face interactions without you being in the same room (or city for that matter). Most mobile phones have video chat capabilities. Online services like Skype can conference in a number of people at one time. And the average attention span is 12 minutes longer on a video chat than on a phone call.
If you want something done right, you don’t have to do it yourself. By empowering your team, establishing standards, and monitoring key indicators, you can manage customer service whether you’re onsite or working remotely.