People are nuanced and respond differently to management techniques, meaning that team management is often classified as an intangible. Not so, says Natalie Calvert, who reveals the science behind creating high performing customer teams.
Sadly, customer service is often considered as a ‘soft’ discipline. According to naysayers, customer service is so difficult to manage because it is reliant on the ultimate intangible: people. Many organisations have tried to quantify and systemise the management of customer service via metrics and statistics, which has, in turn, dehumanised a profession which by definition relies on people being engaged and personable.
This has created a stalemate. We can’t leave the management of people to chance but neither can we distil the challenge of team performance down to a dashboard of statistics.
A smarter approach to improving customer team performance
Thankfully, there is a third approach. One that tracks and focuses customer service team performance for the strategic and competitive benefit of the organisation while also recognising the individuality of the people delivering the service.
I think of this third approach as the ‘science’ (fulfilling corporate objectives) and ‘art’ (managing people) of high performing customer teams. If you can combine the art and science of customer teams, you create the mechanisms to formalise and structure their management and performance which allows you to focus more time on personalised development and support.
Our research shows that team leaders spend just 20% of their time working with their team members - a massive shame and one of the primary reasons why so many teams are suffering poor performance. There is simply not enough focus on helping and supporting people. Yet the reason isn’t caused by a lack of willing. It’s because the mechanics - the science - of customer service have not been mastered.
The problem is often poor and often redundant processes - antiquated systems regularly make simple admin work laborious. Complexity is also the enemy. When customer-facing teams have too many objectives, they become too diluted to deliver any of them.
Where do you start?
The starting point to fixing the science of customer service is understanding your purpose and goal. Once you know this, you can alter, refine and simplify your focus. Good customer service science is about making the mechanics invisible - they are simply there performing their role.
Once you’ve replaced confusion and administrative burden with this focus, then the art of customer service can take precedence. The science of customer service is there to support the art. The science allows people to focus on doing what they do best: listening to and helping customers.
You can learn more about balancing the science and art of customer service by reading my guide: 6 characteristics of high performing customer teams. This guide explains the processes and mechanisms (the science) that must be mastered to allow your team leaders to focus on the art of service. Sign up for more tips and advice to immediately receive your copy.