Everyone wants to succeed in customer service. Your customer satisfaction ratings can make or break your business, allowing you to triumph over competitors. However, it can be difficult to see where you fit in. Who should you compare yourself to?
Zendesk published a research study that grouped companies according to cluster analysis. They used the following criteria to assess each of the companies surveyed:
Preparation level for customer interaction
- Number of new tickets per month
- How many tickets an agent is able to solve per day
- Complexity and difficulty of each ticket
The report found that, as the number of tickets per month and per agent increased, customer satisfaction fell. However, certain companies could handle complicated problems and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
Planning and resource management
- Weekday hours
- Weekend hours
Increasing the number weekday hours devoted to customer support was found to decrease customer reply time and increase performance, while more weekend hours were sometimes valuable depending on the business.
Maturity and efficiency of customer support
- How automated the customer support ticket process is
- What self-service resources are available
Higher automation, with a large number of business rules, was generally found to create greater efficiency and increase customer satisfaction, as was investing in customer self-service resources such as FAQs, articles, and community forums.
The 4 types of customer service operations
When the numbers were analyzed, Zendesk found that companies fell into four general categories of customer support operations.
1. Relationship Builders
These companies have a low ticket volume and prioritize quality and personal service over speed. In spite of relatively long first reply times, they have very high customer satisfaction ratings.
They have small teams (an average of three agents), who share an inbox and collaborate to offer customer solutions.
In small consulting businesses, everyone in the office works at least a few hours per week to address customer queries.
Even though they only have a few questions to answer every month, customer interactions tend to be highly complex, and these businesses invest in automation and self-service solutions at an equal rate to companies with a high ticket volume. They are mature customer support organizations that don’t leave anything to chance.
Relationship builders are companies that specialize in top-quality personalized customer service. They treat each customer with special consideration that is reflected in their happy customer base.
2. Masters of Complexity
These companies handle the most complicated and difficult customer support tickets of all, and they manage it successfully, with high customer satisfaction ratings. How do they do it? They address the problem from all angles.
- Long weekday hours that make it convenient for customers to call, chat, or email.
- Plenty of personnel so that customer reps are not overburdened, and can apply themselves to providing cheerful on-the-ball service, even with the hardest questions.
- Highly automated customer support processes (this group has more business rule updates than any of the others) that take some of the weight off the agents’ shoulders.
- A fantastic customer knowledge base that allows customers to research their own questions and help each other solve problems as much as possible.
If you’re struggling to keep up with hard-to-answer customer questions, it might be a good idea to look at automating more service processes and improving your self-service resources.
3. Late Bloomers
These are companies that still have some work to do when it comes to providing first-rate customer service. Their first reply time tends to be quite high (over 24 hours), and they are missing an important component of their customer service strategy. They can improve their standing by enacting some or all of the following:
Increasing self-service options and business-rule automation
Even companies that don’t usually deal with complex service tickets can benefit from investing in their help centers. Whether you have a low or high ticket volume, empowering customers to solve their own problems with a good knowledge base and community options can decrease the number of tickets you receive each month, as well as the number of tickets per agent.
Automated processes decrease the amount of hands-on work that needs to go into each ticket. Automating simple, repetitive tasks – such as filling out forms – frees up time for interacting with customers, and often improves your teams’ morale as well.
Hiring more reps
If your ticket-to-agent ratio is too high, agents won’t have the time or energy to give each customer query the attention it deserves. It’s best to have an optimal number of agents for the amount and complexity of the tickets you handle.
Offering extended customer service hours
Depending on your business and the number of customer tickets you have every month it might make sense to have 24/7 customer service. If you don’t have quite that many tickets you might think about extending your weekday hours.
4. Captains of Scale
These companies work with hundreds or thousands of tickets every month and maintain high customer satisfaction ratings by adopting a well-planned strategy that covers all the bases. They invest in customer service and demand the best from themselves and their staff. In this way, they can provide top-notch customer service in spite of the volume and complexity of their customer queries.
Top-of-the-line levels of automation and self-service
These companies have high levels of automation in place, along with an incredible array of customer self-service options. And they don’t just offer self-service, they document the customer’s journey through it, so that agents can see what the customer has already tried when the ticket is pulled up.
High staffing levels working around the clock
With the high volume of queries, they have to keep the number of agents high to work on them all. They provide good training and invest in the best talent to deliver customer satisfaction.
Efficient operational structures
The captains of scale have processes for issue escalation in place and have integrated their customer service operations with their other business systems in a way that maximizes efficiency. They take advantage of the expertise from all departments to make the most of their staff and resources.
Whichever class of customer service operation you fall under, you can probably learn something about how to solve your own customer issues by looking at how they solve theirs.