What Are Customer Service Standards?
Customer service standards are the rules by which the company contacts the customer in response to their expectations. These standards cover all aspects of contact your company may have with customers. Response time to inquiries, understanding of needs, proposed solutions, and efficiency are extremely important elements in building a closer relationship with customers. In a sense, customer service standards reflect your company’s vision of how you want them to feel when they contact you. More often than not, we rely on emotions when buying something. Sure, data and facts influence our choice as well but a positive experience inspires our purchasing decisions much stronger than anything else. Therefore, customer service standards are designed to help businesses to meet customer expectations.
Why Sticking to Them Is Important?
There are several reasons why these standards are important.
Firstly, they keep your customer service reps motivated. Right standards give them goals to aim for and some incentive to improve.
Secondly, standardized service helps your company to meet customer expectations that have risen since the beginning of the pandemic. According to a recent survey from Salesforce, “83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, and 82% expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person”. Under these circumstances, clearly defined service standards really matter. Having them, you can adapt to customer needs quicker than there are no standards except vague phrases in a mission statement.
And finally, customer service standards help you to retain existing customers. If they feel happy after their first purchase from your company, they are more likely to buy again. Furthermore, it is much less costly to retain existing customers than to attempt to attract new ones.
Customer Service Standards. Examples
We recommend you to use the following metrics when setting standards of customer service in a call center:
- Average Speed to Answer (ASA). This metric is a traditional indicator that is measured in call centers in seconds. A recent Contact Babel’s survey The European Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide showed significant differences in ASA depending on the region:
The survey also showed how ASA depends on a contact center’s size in different regions:
- First Call Resolution Ratio (FCR). This metric shows how many customer requests were handled without call transfers. As the Contact Babel’s survey found out, FCR rates don’t differ considerably across the regions:
- Queue Time. It’s the time your customer spends in the queue waiting for the available agent. You can reduce this metric by using intelligent call routing and a well-thought IVR menu. Generally, it should be lower than the time when your first customers start hanging up.
- Agent Occupancy. CallCentreHelper shows 83.3% of maximum occupancy based on entries into their Erlang Calculator. Although it is generally believed that the call centers should aim at 85-90%, most of them don’t do this to protect their employees from emotional burnout.
To learn more about call center industry standards and KPIs, read our ultimate guide.
How to Stand Out From the Crowd. Customer Service Tips
Connect your customer’s data to have a unified view
Different lines of business use separate tools to track and store customer data. It leads to disconnected customer experiences and bad customer service because agents spend too much time accessing the information they need. It may seem a no-brainer but surveys show that it is not. For example, Salesforce’s survey states that 53 % of customers say “it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing don’t share information”. Service professionals confirm that to a degree: 31% of respondents said they are siloed from the marketing department, 30% from e-commerce and 18% from the sales department. So we recommend connecting these disparate sets of data by integrating your business tools. For example, you can use call center software with CRM integration that will save time for your agents because they won’t have to switch between two apps.
Use and update self-service options
According to Harvard Business Review, 81 % of customers use self-service before contacting a company. So you can drastically reduce your agents’ workload by implementing and updating your self-service options. It may be a FAQ section or knowledge base on your website, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu in your call center, the chatbot in your web chat. All these options will allow customers to have their questions answered without involving your employees and show them that your company values their time. On the other hand, your agents won’t have to waste time answering repetitive questions and can focus on more challenging tasks instead.
Invest in your employees’ training
55% of agents who took part in the Salesforce’s research said they need better training to perform their tasks well. It isn’t surprising because remote work made the training and onboarding process more difficult. Businesses understand that as well. 79% of decision-makers make significant investments in agent training. Moreover, the number of service professionals with access to on-demand training increased from 54 % in 2018 to 61% in 2020.
Leverage technologies (call monitoring and reporting)
Aside from self-service options, call center software gives you other tools to improve your customer service such as call monitoring and reporting. You can monitor the quality of your agents’ calls in real-time by using three call monitoring modes (call center barging, hidden mode, call whispering). It is also possible to listen to recorded calls and assess them using scoring cards with desired parameters. You can also leave comments on what your employee has to improve.
Call center reporting is another tool that gives you detailed statistics on your agents’ performance. With Voiptime Cloud reporting software, you can easily create reports that allow you to see the number of incoming calls, time spent by a caller on the IVR and in a call queue before reaching the agent, the call processing time by the agent, service level and other metrics. Having this bunch of data, you will be able to see the whole picture and make more informed decisions.
Customer service standards are crucial in meeting your customer expectations. They help you to create a positive image of the company and keep your employees motivated. We also recommend using efficient call center software to implement and support the high standards of customer service.