US businesses lose an estimated $62 billion annually over poor customer service.
If your ecommerce support team is underperforming, you need to take action.
After a negative experience, 91% said they would take action, either by changing loyalties, leaving a bad review online or even going to the media.
On the flip side, after a positive experience, 70% would be more loyal and 65% would recommend a company to others.
Currently, 42% of service agents say they are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to disconnected tools and systems.
To make your team more effective and productive you must give them all the resources they need to perform at their best.
This means the training, tools and motivation to give customers excellent support day in day out.
Do this and the profitability will take care of itself.
Track the KPIs
Giving your team all the resources to do their job is only half the battle. They also need the motivation to come in every day and give their best.
Organizations with higher than average levels of employee engagement are shown to have 38% above-average productivity and realize 50% higher customer loyalty levels.
In order to motivate them, you need to know what customer success looks like. So first you have to define your KPIs. So that your team have an ideal to aim for.
After all, you can’t reward them for good performance if you don’t know what it is. As the old saying goes: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”.
Common measures of customer satisfaction like Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) are useful as high-level markers of how your team are doing.
But to get to grips with improving performance on a practical level, I’ve picked out three key metrics. Taken together, improving all three of these metrics will have a major impact on overall customer satisfaction, whichever way you measure it.
And that way profitability lies.
My key metrics are First Response Time, Full Resolution Time and Employee Engagement.
We’ll discuss why each is important and then take a look at how to measure and improve it.
First Response Time
Response time is the most immediate and obvious metric that has a direct impact on the customer experience.
It measures the average time it takes for a customer to get a response from your brand.
The impact of this metric is clear. Keep them waiting too long and they will move on to another store.
An astonishing 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. While 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less.
And a recent survey of 1000 companies showed that the average response time was over 12 hours. So there’s work to be done for most businesses.
How to measure it
Take the first response time for all queries over a given time period. Say one month.
Then simply divide this number by the number of total queries.
How to improve First Response Time
Improving first response time is about giving you team the tools and systems they need to consistently deliver a fast response. It also means giving them the training to deal with queries more efficiently.
Let’s take a look at the technology and best practices that will have your team delivering far better response times.
Use email autoresponders
An autoresponder system can massively improve average first response times.
You don’t have to solve the customer’s issue straight away. It could be as simple as an automated message to acknowledge the query and give an estimated minimum response time.
This is enough to put the customer at ease, safe in the knowledge that help is on its way.
If you can’t solve the query right away, the auto-responder should include the following key nuggets of information so that it adds value to the exchange.
- Thank the customer for getting in touch
This basic courtesy makes them feel they are being listened to and respected.
- Tell them the opening hours for live agents
So that they know when they can get in touch with someone for a live interaction. It’s useful simply to know that there are live agents available to talk to.
- Give them a support ticket number
This is a concrete way to let them know the request is in the system and being dealt with. It’s far more powerful than just saying, “we’ll get back to you”.
- Offer a guaranteed response time
Again, this gives a real sense that the query will be solved and a specific time frame so they don’t have to worry about following up.
- Link to FAQs
Give them the chance to solve the query themselves by offering answers to your FAQs or a link to a knowledge base.
Use a chatbot
An even better way to give a fast response and also solve the problem is to use an AI chatbot. Jumper makes this super easy to set up. You could have an “intelligent” automated chat agent on your store within minutes.
In the example below, a simple query about the shipping cost can be easily dealt with by a chatbot without opening a ticket and wasting your team’s precious resources.
If the chatbot is unable to deal with the query, it can still offer an auto-response similar to the above. Or if it’s within opening hours, it can direct the conversation to a live agent.
Chatbots offer the possibility of taking response times from hours down to minutes or even seconds. And they can do this 24/7.
Granted, you have to be careful how you use them. But they have the potential, when implemented correctly, to drastically improve the experience for the customer by reducing first response time to seconds.
Provide training and resources
Giving adequate training and making problem-solving resources available to your team is another way to drop the first response time.
Supply your team with customizable templates and scripts they can use for common queries.
These should be carefully created based on best practices and organized in a way that they can easily be accessed by the whole team.
Not only will this speed up response times, but it will also make sure customers are getting consistent answers. Rather than one agent telling a customer one thing and another contradicting them.
You’ll know from looking at the data your busiest times for customer queries. There are a few simple ways to optimize your support team schedules to deal with the increased demand.
- Make sure meetings and training sessions are scheduled outside of peak times.
- Offer more attractive rates of pay to work peak periods.
- Be open about why you are doing this. If the team understands the ‘why’ they will be more motivated to get behind the initiative.
Consider hiring remote customer service agents in different timezones. While your US-based agents are tucked up in bed, you’re Asia team can be responding to customers in different timezones.
This approach, of course, comes with its own headaches (managing remote teams etc.) But having live agents available 24/7 could be a huge boost to your average first response time so you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons.
Full Resolution Time
While first response affects the immediate impression of your brand to the customer, full resolution time is a broader measure of how long it takes to completely resolve a ticket.
Each on their own is an incomplete measure of performance, but when taken together, the two metrics offer a useful insight into how your team is performing.
And for the customer, it makes all the difference.
45% of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
How to measure it
To calculate the average full resolution time, take the time for every ticket to be opened to being marked as solved over a given period. And divide that number by the total number of opened tickets in that period.
Average full resolution time = Time between opening and solving each ticket over a given time period / Total tickets opened in that period
How to improve Full Resolution Time
We’ve seen how a quick response and give a great first impression and put the customer at ease. But it also means they now have expectations about the service they will receive. Those must be met or exceeded in order to offer a good overall experience.
As someone once said, and everyone repeats, “underpromise, over deliver.”
With our solutions for improving average first response time, we will have solved simpler queries and opened tickets that need to be looked at more closely.
Here’s how to ensure these expectations are met or exceeded to deliver an excellent customer experience.
Empower your team to solve problems independently
One thing that really slows down ticket resolution is if a team member has to wait for approval from management to make a decision.
And from the agent’s point of view, there’s nothing worse than feeling like a drone working without any decision-making power.
You don’t want your employees to be handing out million dollar refunds left, right and center. But giving them authority to make necessary decisions not only helps them resolve tickets faster and better, but also makes them feel satisfied and motivated in their role.
A simple way to do this is to make it very clear what an individual agent can authorize. For example, the rule could be that any refunds under $100 can be authorized by team members, but anything about that must go to the team manager. And anything above $1000 must be signed off from higher up.
Giving some authority to your agents while also having clear boundaries will help them feel safe and secure in making decisions themselves.
Giving them enough authority to make quick decisions means they can resolve a situation before it escalates, reducing full resolution time.
Utilize automated flows
Taking some time to create custom conversational flows can save a hell of a lot of time in the long run when dealing with common queries.
Working like a conversational FAQ, an automated flow guides the customer through a conversation by asking questions and responding to typed replies or canned responses.
Let’s say you wanted to automate queries about returns. You could implement a flow similar to the below which takes the customer through the process, quickly gathering the information needed.
There’s no need to waste your support team’s time with these common queries. But if they need to step in they can always takeover the conversation.
Here’s how to do this on the Jumper dashboard.
The benefits of using automated flows are two-fold.
First, using a live chat interface to deal with these queries is quicker for the customer. They will find the resolution far quicker than if they had to wait for email replies, for example.
Second, automating conversations frees up time for your team to deal with more complex queries.
So overall, the time taken to create automated flows will be insignificant compared to the time saved for each agent each day over the long run.
This the primary measure of how happy your team are.
Fully engaged employees care about what they are doing and have an emotional attachment to their performance.
They will do above and beyond to make sure the customer is given the best experience possible.
Make the motivation about the agent themselves, rather than the company. If they feel they are “making a difference”, they will be far more motivated to quickly and happily resolve customer queries. And you will see customer satisfaction skyrocket.
According to extensive research, highly engaged business units realize a:
- 17% increase in productivity
- 10% increase in customer ratings
- 20% increase in sales
How to measure it
This one’s a little more tricky to quantify. In reality, it may not give us a concrete number as the previous two metrics, but any good manager knows which members of their team are more or less engaged.
Use regular surveys and one-on-one meetings with team leaders to gauge sentiment at both the individual and team level.
Surveys can quantify feelings using numbered scales. This is not an exact science but goes a long way to giving you an idea.
The real sense of how each employee is engaging must be determined in one-on-one interactions with management.
The key is for the employee to feel like the company cares about them and how they feel. So the act of trying to determine employee engagement will in itself help to improve it.
How to improve Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a huge topic that is affected by uncountable factors like company culture, organizational structure, pay, and more.
All of that is obviously outside the scope of this post. But let’s talk about what you can control and improve in a practical sense, at ground level.
Foster a supportive environment
Create an atmosphere within the team in which it is OK to share mistakes. These are things that everyone can learn from.
There should be an open culture of sharing but not shaming. And being honest about mistakes rather than blaming other people or outside factors.
Implementing a collaborative internal knowledge base can help with this. Somewhere where the team can note down mistakes for everyone to learn from.
The more your team feels it is ok to share mistakes, the more they will be open and the easier these errors will be to identify and remedy.
This doesn’t mean everyone should be let off the hook when they mess up. If they are not putting the effort in, this should be called out.
But if a genuine mistake is made, it is far better to share and let everyone learn from it, then to name and shame an individual.
Give them authority
We talked about empowering your team to make decisions independently. There is a broader point to be made here.
The difference between a good team and a great team is that people feel they have authority over their jobs.
To make this happen you need to give them all the resources they need to perform at their best.
If they have what they need to do the job, and you give them the authority to make decisions and let them own what they are doing, they will be far more motivated to perform well.
As I’m sure you can relate to from your own experience, ownership is a huge motivating factor.
It may seem daunting at first to let people below you make decisions, but this is hugely important.
If they feel like they have control over their performance, they will do whatever they can to deliver the best performance.
This leads directly into incentives.
Motivate them with incentives
Once you’ve got a team making their own decisions. You want to make sure good decisions and good performance are rewarded.
Armed with the metrics we’ve discussed, you can implement a rewards system to incentivize improving them.
Incentives could be in the form of a bonus, or pay rise, but could equally be non-monetary. It could be a meal out with colleagues or tickets to a show, or even added vacation days.
In order to avoid employees feeling like lab rats working only for rewards, try personalizing incentives. Survey your team to see what they really value.
Allowing them to choose their incentives feeds back into the idea of giving them authority and showing them respect.
First and foremost, they should be motivated by the desire to help customers and do a good job. But a little extra incentive is a great bonus motivational factor.
This also ties back in to measuring success accurately. Once you have the systems in place to measure average response time and full resolution time, you will know who in your team are performing best and who needs more help.
Reward those who are putting the effort in, and getting results, and the whole team’s performance will improve.
Give your team the resources they need
Giving your team the resources they need is the key to improving efficiency, productivity and ultimately profitability.
Resources like the tools and technology, training and shared knowledge to improve customer support times and deliver better customer experience. And the motivation and supportive environment for them to be engaged and thrive.
Add all this together and you get happy employees, happy customers and a massive boost in profits as a result.
This isn’t some magic quick fix. It’s going to take time and effort. But putting the right resources at the fingertips of your support team is the first step towards making them, and your business, more efficient, productive, and profitable.To get started with some of the tips we’ve discussed, and see what else it can do, get your free trial with Jumper today.