Managing a Customer Service Team

Managing a Customer Service Team
Instructor: Jeff Toister
Released: 2/18/2020Course Details
Skills Covered
Customer Service Management
Course Link
Professional Certifications and Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASABA) – CPE: 1.8
Secrets to managing customer service teams are revealed in this course by customer service expert Jeff Toister. Learn what separates great service from poor service, and how to set service team goals. Find out how to set up a team and customers for success, explore smart ways to measure service levels, and learn about the true cost of poor service. Plus, explore ways to optimize delivery to provide service that’s faster, less costly, and better.

Learning objectives
– Defining outstanding service
– Setting customer service goals
– Aligning a customer service team
– Exploring the voice of customer feedback
– Improving service quality
– Identifying obstacles to outstanding service
– Helping employees prioritize great service
– Balancing speed and quality
– Calculating the cost of poor service
– The manager’s paradox

Source: LinkedIN Learning
Defining Outstanding Service

Developing service standards

Creating effective standards leads to consistency, increased quality and provides training to team members.  

Having too many standards can impact service instead:

  • Create broad guidelines (rather than restrictive)
  • Align guidelines with the brand
  • Consider impact on customer

Selecting customer service goals

SMART goals

Good Goals

  • Focus Attention
  • Promote teamwork
  • Use internal motivation

Bad Goals

  • Divert attention
  • Reward selfishness
  • Use external motivations

Aligning a team around outstanding service

Use an Alignment Check, available through the Exercise files, to determine your customer service alignment.

Evaluating Service Quality

Understanding how “Icebergs” can sink service

Don’t assume it’s an isolated incident.  Review if you have an “iceberg” and if so, find the root cause.  Be proactive.

  • How big is it?
  • Who is impacted?
  • How can I fix it?

Benefits of Finding Icebergs

  • Discover problems early
  • Minimize customer impact
  • Cut costs

Exploring the Voice of the Customer feedback

VOC – customer feedback that helps identify problems and improve service.

Collecting VOC Information

  1. Listen to customer feedback.
  2. Create a contact type report.
  3. Use surveys.
  4. Check external review sites.
  5. Monitor social media.
  6. Set alerts.

Improving service quality

Identify the gap between existing and desired performance.  Analyze the gap by using a root cause analysis.  Take action to determine if it will reduce complaints.

Causes of Service Failure

  • Product, service, or policy
  • Customer
  • Employee
Identifying Obstacles to Outstanding Service

Exploring how incentives can hurt service

Incentives can hurt service due to gaming (recommending unnecessary repairs, not closing down accounts, etc. to ensure it won’t impact the employees incentives) or  begging (customer service surveys in which they earn a reward for positive scores).

What Works For Motivation

  • Shared goals
  • Empowerment
  • Problem-solving

Fixing broken service systems

Poor product, unreliable service or a procedure that doesn’t work create service problems.  

  • Identify the problem
  • Look at the impact at an individual, departmental and organizational levels.  
  • Find solutions both at the individual, departmental and organizational levels.

Empowering employees

Reasons We Don’t Empower Employees

  • Fear – companies are afraid that employees will give away the store.
  • Consistency – if you do something special for one customer, does that mean we have to do it for every customer
  • Laziness – some leaders see a rigid policy as having to monitor employees less
  1. Create a customer service vision.
  2. Develop clear guidelines.
  3. Provide feedback.  Coaching employees on poor decisions will help them improve.  Be cautious not to punish employees for using empowerment.

Helping employees prioritize great service

Reasons Customer Service Isn’t King

  • Conflicting priorities (first contact resolution vs. time limit)
  • Observable activities
  • Frequent conversation topics

Make it clear that customers are your top priority.  Talk about service on a daily basis.  Hold employees accountable. 

Optimizing Service Delivery

Putting customer value first

Successful companies put customer value first.  

  • Staffing levels – having more staff during busy times
  • Email responsiveness – reduce templates and replace with clear/thorough responses
  • Easy to use self-service technology – makes service faster for customers
  • Employee training – don’t skimp instead spend on training for better service and lower turnovers

Balancing speed and quality

Employees often struggle between providing speed and quality.  What happens to service quality when employees are busy and stress level rises?

  • Fewer connections
  • Less listening
  • Decreased helpfulness

How to improve speed

  • Improve processes
  • Refocus on quality
  • Increase capacity

Developing service channels

Use the Service Channels worksheet in the exercise files to identify the owners of each channel.  Then try to connect with each channel using the same problem to determine:

  • Ease of discovery (dig to find number or well displayed?)
  • Ease of contact (fast and easy or 20 questions?)
  • Speed of response (lag time?)
  • Questions answered?
  • Consistency with Customer Service vision

Adding Service Channels

  • Do enough customers want to use this channel?
  • Can you serve customers effectively?
  • Can you serve customers consistently?

Scheduling customer service employees

Scheduling Employees

  1. Identify demand.
  2. Staff to demand.
    1. Adjust your staffing mix (full-time and part-time)
    2. Cross-train employees
    3. Adjust shifts (start earlier or extend hours of operation
  3. Manage to demand.
Calculating the Cost of Poor Service

Connecting service to the bottom Line

Director’s Goals

  • Efficiency
  • Solving Problems
  • Customer Satisfaction

CEO’s Goals

  • Reducing costs
  • Customer retention
  • Revenue growth

The goal is to link key customer service metrics with each of these three business metrics.

The Directors discovered that they are using a third party business to handle spikes in call volume.   By reducing outsourced calls they can gain better efficiency by handling the calls in-house and also reduce cost.  They also had customers calling for the same problem on multiple occasions.   By tracking first contact resolution they can reduce waste and become more efficient.

For revenue protection, they tracked account cancellations to determine the leading cause of customer defections.  They also tracked goodwill discounts to determine the cost of service recovery and determine the cause behind these failures.

Finally for revenue growth, the director linked next accounts through referrals and also trial accounts that converted to paid accounts.

Exploring the escalating costs of service failure

Cost of Service Failures

  • Servicing costs – labor, parts, equipment
  • Goodwill cost – discounts, freebies to apologize for service failures
  • Lost revenue – customer churn, reduced spending, lost opportunities
Elevating Team Service

Exploring the manager’s paradox

The Customer Service Manager’s Paradox

Spend time you don’t have now, or spend even more time later.  

  1. Identify the problem.
  2. Prioritize the initiative.
  3. Involve your team.

Getting a team obsessed with service

If you want your team obsessed with service, talk about it often.  

  • Customer Service vision
  • Service standards
  • Goals

Leaders share constant updates with the team.


To experience the full benefit of this guide, I highly recommend you watch the full training session by clicking the Course Link above.

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