In a world of cutthroat competition amid similarly-marketed products and services, excellent customer service often determines who comes out on top. It’s not enough for companies to have the best products or the most competitive prices. Not having informative, reliable, and timely customer support can lead to clients abandoning your product, regardless of how well it performs. And to keep your support team performing at their best, it’s important to provide relevant and achievable customer service goals. Remember: a business that fails to address its clients’ needs risks losing them to rivals that do.
Customer service remains a vital part of the organization because how consumers perceive their interactions with a company is the company. How you work to engage with consumers and address their issues is the backbone of the customer experience—even more so than the product/service itself. Recognizing this truth (and making tangible changes to align with this truth) is the first step to increasing your business’s value. Great customer service generates repeat clients. Then, as they buy more products more often, customer acquisition costs drop.
At the same time, an organized and well-equipped customer service team can document concerns to help employees to learn from the experience. They can also gather positive reviews and testimonials, which the company can use for future marketing campaigns.
But Does Your Company Have Customer Service Goals?
Does your customer service team have goals? Can your company’s customer service measure up to industry standards? Do you have metrics to differentiate team members pulling their weight from those struggling? If your company has yet to establish your customer service goals, now is the time to consider them.
However, even companies that boast top-notch customer service can experience problems when they stop looking for ways to improve. In a world where consumers are always looking for a better deal, nobody can afford to stop innovating. Regularly setting customer service goals helps remind companies to continually improve customer experiences and relationships.
Do You Still Need Goals For Your Customer Service?
Is it important to develop customer service goals, even if the company is already successful? The obvious answer is yes, and especially so for very successful ones. First, it’s a matter of efficiency. The often-quoted maxim that it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to recruit a new one is very true. In the case of financial services, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can fetch increased profits of more than 25%!
One of the major objectives of customer service is to keep customers happy. And nobody happily spends more than repeat customers. Why? They already trust the business to meet their needs. The company must simply maintain that level of trust and reliability for the customer to keep purchasing from them. In most cases, happy customers are more than glad to refer their suppliers. Unsurprisingly, referrals are one of the most effective marketing strategies. On average, two-thirds of all consumers make a purchase based on recommendations from friends or family members.
However, keeping clients happy is radically different from making them happy one time. The longer a client stays, the more familiar they should become. After all, loyal customers are built over time. During this period, the seller should learn to anticipate their needs and be ready to provide more. At the same time, clients will expect to get better over time. To do so, your customer service should always be one step ahead.
Great Customer Service Means Setting Goals
Being one step ahead means setting goals and objectives that align with your customers. If they want to take the next step in their business, your company should readily assist them along the way. Setting goals is a great way to challenge your team to grow along with customers. It also comes with a host of benefits:
Goals Provide Directions
Setting an objective allows everybody on the team to look in a single direction. Instead of having individuals focused on their own agenda, a unified goal ensures that everybody is working to achieve what’s best for the company.
Goals Align The Organization’s Movements
Once everybody is on the same page on where the company wants to go, members can now devise their individual movements that contribute to the goal. Aligning individual movements reduces redundancies and counterproductive activities.
Goals Serve As a Benchmark
Finally, setting goals provide a way to measure the team’s progress. Using benchmarks, teams can gauge if they’re ahead or behind on their progress. This allows them to regroup and make the necessary adjustments to achieve the target objective. Conversely, when teams seem to breeze their way into completion, they can recalibrate the goal to set a more challenging target.
Be SMART When Setting Your Goals
Setting goals require planning and forethought. Coming up with a blanket statement that describes what the company needs to do - but doesn’t provide a specific goal - sets your team up for failure. For example, just saying “improve customer service satisfaction scores” without detailing which areas need improvement is confusing and counterproductive.
Instead, goals should be SMART. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. These five characteristics can help workers have a complete understanding of what the organization wants to accomplish. A clear objective is always an easier objective to accomplish.
To start with, the company goal should be straight to the point. What do we specifically want to accomplish? Is it lower customer acquisition costs? Do we want a faster resolution time of client issues? Or, are we striving for fewer complaints? Goals need to be highly specific and should leave no room for interpretation. This way, everybody will get the picture immediately.
To help flesh out goals, they must be measurable. Using metrics and milestones, the organization can quickly check if current efforts are enough to accomplish goals at the end of the given period. Periodic benchmarks also help teams make adjustments to their strategy in case they need to get back on track. For example, a lofty goal of Zero Unresolved Cases can push teams to practice more diligence in identifying and resolving long-running cases.
For workers to buy into the set objectives, they must have a fighting chance to succeed. If they feel that goals set by management are impossible to achieve, they won’t even bother to try. In most cases, targets are not a definitive end goal but a way to encourage growth. Breaking down the main goal into different subgoals that all add up is also a good idea to foster collaboration among teams.
Goals should also have a point. It’s not some random objective that executives came up with at the last minute. Rather, SMART goals usually focus on areas that can benefit from growing or showing improvement. Workers entrusted to accomplish the goal should have a total understanding of why the company needs to achieve this target and why are they pursuing this at this point.
As a company’s resources are finite, goals should also have limits as well. Time constraints can also help the company measure its success or accomplishment rate over time. In addition, setting a deadline for the goal’s completion can provide teams with a sense of urgency.
While You’re At It, Be FAST Too
Sometimes, being SMART alone can have its drawbacks. Incentivizing workers when they achieve measurable and realistic targets can sometimes lead to a practice known as sandbagging. This is when employees start lowering the goalposts to ensure that they hit the targets every time.
In addition, SMART goals don’t encourage transparency. Goals usually become a discussion between an employee and a manager. The resulting goals often stay within the department. For large organizations, this can pose a problem when different departments formulate conflicting goals. For example, the warehouse group may aim for more accurate order processing, while the delivery group is only focused on faster delivery times. Not aligning these objectives can result in one group hitting their goals at the expense of the other.
As a result, critics of the SMART goal strategy say that while it establishes a goal’s parameters, it neglects to answer the most important question: does it work? As it is, the SMART strategy is not enough to ensure that goals are met.
Some progressive companies came up with the idea of incorporating four principles that can help create more productive and effective goals. So, instead of just being SMART, goals should also be FAST: Frequently Discussed, Ambitious, Specific, and Transparent.
Goals should remain part of regular discussions to get timely feedback. This way, managers can continually adjust strategies. This includes allocating resources or setting new priorities. All in all, progress reports are key in ensuring that actions are continually being made to help achieve the goal.
This core principle supersedes the Realistic principle in SMART goals. Rather than going for easy pickings, managers will now set goals that are much harder to accomplish, but not impossible. Doing so forces the team to actively strive to reach the target. Naturally, this will also prevent workers from sandbagging their targets.
Similar to the SMART strategy, goals are given specific metrics and milestones so that determining if a team achieved its goals isn’t open to interpretation. Setting milestones also helps teams identify which strategies actually help achieve the goals and which ones do not.
Rather than hiding individual goals from others, the system pushes transparency so that everybody can monitor progress. This can help push individuals into performing their best. Applying transparency also allows the entire company to see how each employee makes a contribution toward the company's good.
Make Sure Every Goal is Measurable
Today’s customer service involves a lot of small, measurable tasks. It would be great if all customers would call about the same problem, but realistically this is the opposite of what actually unfolds in customer calls.
Customer Service Is a Numbers Game
When setting customer service goals, it’s not enough to generalize with “Improve Customer Satisfaction” or “Reduce Customer Churn.” These goals require specific benchmarks to gauge a team/individual’s progress.
Thankfully, customer service metrics come in the form of numbers - measured through benchmarks or rated by customers themselves. In some cases, performances are measured on whether tasks get accomplished within a specified time. So, instead of establishing targets by using broad statements, companies need to assign a specific numerical rating.
So, let’s say that a company’s Average Customer Satisfaction Level is currently at 4.5 out of 5, with 5 being the highest score. Analytics showed that reducing the wait time on calls by more than a minute can improve customer satisfaction scores by an increment of 0.2. Consequently, the company can now set a new target benchmark of 4.7. To align this new benchmark with SMART/FAST goals, teams should be given a target deadline.
Goals Come in Different Packages
Customer service goals should be different for different members of the organization. After all, there are different benchmarks for ticketing systems, groups, and individual agents. Creating a customer service goal covering all three would likely result in the broad statement we’re trying to avoid. Instead, take the time to study the inner mechanisms of each team and identify benchmarks that fit their primary responsibilities. Some teams could improve their response times, while others can better serve the company by resolving an inquiry on the first try.
From there, it’s a matter of aligning business objectives and applying either SMART or FAST approaches. Workers will appreciate clear, measurable, and transparent communication of the goals they need to accomplish.
Empower Your Customer Service With The Right Solution
Businesses should understand that customer service holds at least the same importance in the organization as sales and marketing. Apart from producing great products and services, providing a great customer experience can generate loyalty and encourage repeat orders. This is why it’s important to set specific, measurable goals that aim to further improve relationships with its clients.
Helpware empowers consumers and elevates customer experience through API and integration-enabled human task services. If you’re looking to boost your customer experience efforts, our team eagerly awaits you! Contact us to learn about how we work to best serve you, so you can best serve your clients.