8 Ways to Build and Empower Your Customer Service Team

Updated: Dec 28, 2019

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In today’s digital age, customer service expectations are at their peak. There has been a rise of new technologies to make support matters efficient, such as a robust help desk software that streamlines all conversations into one timeline.

Behind every computer screen of your customer service team, are talented and knowledge-hungry individuals. They’re not just there for their own personal growth, but to benefit the entire company by keeping clients happy.

A support representative is usually the first touchpoint between your business and clients. It’s safe to say, then, that this is a crucial role in shaping the way people perceive your brand. Sometimes, when agents focus too much on getting the job done fast, they become less attune to quality and identifying problems outside the periphery. This is why your support team needs more than just a system to be efficient and successful.

With the right guidance and leadership, you can actually give employees something more than a desk and computer. Any team, be it eSports, basketball or travelling to space, needs a leader to accelerate each individual member and group to success in every organization. One of the most powerful forces of direction is empowerment. The following tips will provide powerful and effective ways to empower your customer service team to work more efficiently while nurturing independency.

What is empowerment?

According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, ‘empowerment’ is defined as:

“The granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties.”

Empowering a customer service team means enabling every agent to make decisions using their common sense, rather than always having to reply on manager approval. Moreover, when team members are emboldened, they are more likely to be productive, share ideas and solutions with each other. Those are all crucial building blocks for improving teamwork.

For instance, employees who are micromanaged and confined to strict work flows means there is no mutual trust. As a result, agents are afraid to speak up, make mistakes and fear harsh feedback from their managers. When you add up all of the aforementioned, it’s a recipe for unhappy customers.

To avoid just that, here are eight ways to invest in your customer service team by empowering them every step of the way.

1. Foster independence

A manager who is constantly looking over their employees’ shoulders is already a red flag, either they love to dictate or they simply don’t trust them. Giving agents the independence to get their feet wet can actually do a lot for your business. Yes, they will most likely hit a few roadblocks, but they’ll gain valuable knowledge which will help them in the long-run.

For example, The Ritz-Carlon gives each agent a $2,000 daily allowance to make things right with a guest without the need of supervisor approval. While not every company can afford this hefty price-tag, even more symbolic gestures can help empower employees to fix or improve a guest’s experience and increase customer retention. Small business? Not a problem. You can foster independence by sending employees to manage important meetings with customers. Or, grant them ownership of a project.

2. Use self-directed teams

For start-ups, especially where resources are limited (for example, lack of a Human Resources department and employees), self-directed teams are an excellent model to give agents more autonomy in the workplace.

self-directed teams self-managed teams

The idea is to combine employees (optimally two to ten) who have different skills and talents to work, without supervision, towards a common goal. This model means great responsibility and empowerment for all members. Decisions are made swiftly which leads to faster results. The one downside is the possibility of a project failing, so it does come at a high cost.

Courier delivery services company FedEx frequently uses this model to improve specific pain points such as incorrect bills and lost packages. The brand organized it’s employees into “superteams” of up to 10 people. In fact, thanks to this structure, one team were able to cut service errors by 13%.

3. It’s okay to fail