When you read the term "customer service," we can bet you envision a bustling office with countless cubicles and representatives tirelessly answering calls, and indeed, in many cases, this is the scenario regardless of the line of business.
Large companies often adopt standardized systems to handle repetitive issues. These systems typically involve an answer book that agents follow strictly. The agent’s role is limited to providing premade responses and escalating issues if they cannot solve a customer’s query.
But while this standardized model is effective, it has its limitations.
The capacity and knowledge of an agent are not the main problems; it is the restricted system. The solutions are generalized and bureaucratic, and sometimes they are beyond a specific agent's access, so they must send the client to another colleague, who may, in turn, send it to another department.
The focus of this system is to follow the protocols precisely as they were proposed to solve a high volume of problems. However, customers can feel like mere data points, with their opinions and diverse needs often overlooked.
The Customer is Your Friend
Even in software companies, the traditional approach of separating customer support and product development teams is prevalent. The problem arises when one group adopts the agile methodology to deliver value iteratively to clients while the user communication team does not.
The Agile strategy revolves around the client, as stated by its values and principles. It improves your team's productivity, which generates more benefits for your client, and the objective is not only to make a good product or provide a good service but to create a better experience. This can only be achieved by involving users in the process since they are the ones for whom the product or service is developed.
By prioritizing this objective, we transform our organization, work models, communication between team members, and priorities when designing plans; all from a perspective that encourages adaptability to change. If we can apply Agile to different lines of business and teams, why not apply it to customer service as well?
Agile from a Customer-Centric Approach
Before implementing any structural changes or reorganizing our customer support team, let's analyze what this paradigm transformation means. Let's review the principles of the Agile methodology with a focus on customer-first thinking to understand the key points in which the product development and customer support teams need to collaborate closely.
Rethinking Customer Support with Agile Values
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
It’s crucial to recognize the value individuals bring to the team, including customers and their feedback. We should actively seek better ways to listen to them, be proactive rather than reactive, avoid assumptions, and foster open communication between the team and clients.
Working software over comprehensive documentation.
Continuously improving and delivering optimal products/services while ensuring customer satisfaction should be our ongoing focus. Rather than creating lengthy manuals, we prioritize taking action and implementing ideas that will yield the best results.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
It is not about making the customer happy at any cost or making them a part of the team; it’s about relying on their perspective and extracting value from their input. When negotiating contracts, we aim for agreements that encourage customer collaboration and testing.
Responding to change over following a plan.
Users come in different shapes and sizes, each with unique needs. Therefore, our team must be flexible and prepared to address various requests. Collaboration across disciplines is vital to providing prompt and comprehensive solutions without being constrained by the original plan.
Agile Principles for a Better Customer Support Team
Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery. Instead of making customers wait for significant updates, focus on delivering incremental improvements they can perceive and provide feedback on. This approach allows for quick feedback implementation and ensures that the product or service evolves to meet user needs in the long run better.
Agile processes to support a consistent development pace. We don't want bureaucratic protocols but processes that lead us to do things faster without compromising the quality of what is delivered. Encourage the team to adopt an agile mindset, explore new paths, experiment, take calculated risks, leverage new tools, and foster strong relationships between teams and clients.
Self-organizing teams encourage great architectures, requirements, and designs. Help your team so they can help your customers. Empower your team to design their own workflows, make independent decisions, assign roles based on their skills and expertise, embrace flexibility, and foster peer support. By cultivating a culture of mutual commitment and collaboration, team members become better equipped to address client issues effectively.
Regular reflections on how to become more effective. We count on our colleagues to give us helpful, respectful, and encouraging feedback, but this will only sometimes be the case with clients. Negative feedback can be hard to take objectively when is delivered with a lack of kindness and accuracy. Still, we need to create better processes to reach out to users, encourage them to give that information, and find ways to get the best use out of it.
The Mindset for Great Customer Care
The Agile perspective is the driving force for enhancing teamwork, and its ceremonies are designed to internalize this mindset. Regardless of their roles or customer interaction, every team member should embrace the Agile values and principles. For the customer support team, the following aspects are crucial to emphasize:
Prioritizing: Prepare your team to meet a common goal. When everyone is aligned, it ensures that priorities are clear, enabling focused plans that deliver maximum benefits and save time, resources, and effort.
Ownership: Encouraging team members to develop a connection with customers fosters a sense of commitment and empowers them to explore various avenues for assistance. Trusting them with control allows them to take ownership of their efforts, leading to greater satisfaction when resolving customer issues.
Horizontality: Keeping the information accessible and promoting collaboration across the entire team ensures that multiple individuals are equipped to provide accurate answers to customer inquiries. This allows for faster, more efficient service and for everyone to be trained in different topics that may arise. It also prevents customers from being transferred to multiple agents or relying solely on one form of communication.
Transparency: Providing the customer team with insights into ongoing projects, advertisements, and upcoming updates helps them anticipate potential difficulties or customer interest. Equally important is sharing information about frequently reported issues with other teams, enabling collective awareness and including relevant solutions in their update plans.
Tools for Agile Customer Support
Finding a system that works for your team is a trial-and-error process. Note how your colleagues collaborate among themselves and, very importantly, realize your clients' reactions and how they seek to communicate with you; this will give you clues to find the right tool.
Before diving into app recommendations, it’s essential to prioritize and include a crucial aspect in your digital profiles as a primary measure: your help center. This serves as a valuable resource for your customer, providing them with the necessary support and information.
Your Help Center
As mentioned earlier, many customer queries are repetitive, and while the traditional approach focuses on simple processes to handle them, the Agile methodology values building a closer relationship and fostering trust to receive better feedback in the future.
One effective way to achieve this is by providing users with clear and concise information about our offerings, creating a space where they can quickly learn how to use our product or service. By giving them the resources they need to support themselves, we cater to customers who prefer to learn at their own pace. They may want immediate access to information or the freedom to explore without feeling constrained.
The Help Center is a compilation of technical information that addresses frequently asked questions; it enables new customers to, instead of explaining their problem to an agent, explore the functions themselves and test if they align with their needs. In their research, other doubts may arise that they can resolve right there or discover options they were unaware of, allowing them to integrate more of our product or service into their processes.
Once you have this informative space ready, it's time to explore specialized tools that will enable your team to deliver personalized and attentive customer service while preparing them for future challenges.
Freshdesk + Trello = Excellent Customer Experience
To bridge the gap between your customer support team and product or service development team, consider integrating two powerful apps: Freshdesk and Trello.
Freshdesk is a comprehensive ticketing system that adapts seamlessly to projects of all types and sizes.
By connecting Freshdesk to your communication channels, you can centralize customer questions, requests, and feedback. All in one single location. Whether it's social media, email, WhatsApp, or even phone calls, customer support agents can manage and respond to inquiries without navigating between different platforms.
This streamlined approach saves time and allows for efficient follow-ups.
On the other hand, Trello stands out for its user-friendly interface, intuitive design, and customizable options, making it a perfect fit for both agents and developers.
It operates on a Kanban-style board with "To-Do," "Doing," and "Done" columns which enables you to track tasks effortlessly with cards. Each card can contain detailed information such as text, links, images, and sub-cards, allowing for comprehensive task explanations.
You can also assign those cards to team members, set due dates, establish color-coded classifications, and engage in conversations within each card for seamless communication.
So, how can you take advantage of both of these tools?
Our Freshdesk + Trello power-up lets you convert the tickets you receive in Freshdesk into Trello cards in just a few clicks.
Customer support agents can export all the information they have received from the client to a Trello card, place their comments, mark the degree of urgency, and even tag a teammate so they get notified about the issue.
Once a ticket is resolved, they will receive a notification in Freshdesk with a direct link to the corresponding Trello card, enabling them to close the conversation with the user seamlessly.
This integration also allows public notifications on extremely important tickets to keep your entire team aware of the solutions found, so they can learn how to handle similar situations in the future. Additionally, the development team can also create tickets for customers, seeking feedback on specific features or finding volunteers to test options before public release; they can assign their tickets for agents to view in Freshdesk and communicate these requests to users.
A company that considers its customers prepares for the future; we know that the trend is for users to demand more personalized and close experiences, so we need to keep contact and open communication with them.
Customer service is no longer the sole responsibility of a dedicated team of agents handling calls; it now involves cross-functional teams from various departments to enhance the possibilities.
The primary objective of Agile methodology is to satisfy the customer while saving time and resources. It is a flexible approach that can be adopted by teams of any size, enabling them to deliver excellent support services by viewing customer feedback as value opportunities.
For inspiring success stories of teams implementing Agile in the customer support realm, we recommend reading "Bringing Agile to Customer Care" by McKinsey. It provides relevant insights into how Agile principles can revolutionize customer service.
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