Leadership in customer service delivery

Leadership is about achieving results through others. Former United States president Dwight Eisenhower summed it up as: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it.”

By Robert Mandeya

In this installment, I would like to change the focus to the senior management and the significant roles they play in the customer service delivery process. Here are their five key roles:

Setting standards

Before the customer representatives can pick up the phone and answer calls, they need to have a script guideline in hand. Managers draw up these guidelines or scripts based on the results they want to achieve, as well as their experience with that brand and customers. They also sit down in meetings and discuss ways to help the company using data intelligence.

For example, if the supervisor notices that the average handling time per customer is high, then he investigates the issue to uncover the possible reason the representatives are taking too much time on a call. He then discusses it with the managers to come up with a solution.

Senior management formulates the company mission and vision, and they are at the forefront to ensure that all strategies implemented lead the company towards their goal. Without a goal, the organisation will walk blindly.

Empowering employees

Employees execute the set strategies. What would happen if you have the best customer service strategy, and tools and techniques in place but you do not have great employees to do the work? Absolute failure!

Senior management is responsible for hiring the right people for the job, training them on the best practices, inspiring and motivating them to deliver results, monitoring their performance. When you have a knowledgeable team on the ground, you will achieve good results. However, a great leader knows that knowledge alone is not enough to achieve great success; they empower the agents to make decisions on behalf of the organisation.

An empowered team is unstoppable.

Improving processes

Technology is at the core of the excellent customer service delivery. An agent cannot make the decision to change obsolete equipment, but the senior manager can. The management monitors the trends in the industry and the organisation output and makes the decision to upgrade or change the system.

They understand the impact that great customer support software has on the level of service provided and are always on the lookout for what is working and what is not. When the team is well-equipped, they will be effective and efficient in their work.

The best way to support the representatives is to provide them with up to date tools and technology that gives them the opportunity to focus on the customers.

Create service culture

Senior management helps to create the corporate culture. New employees come and adapt to the existing culture. If the management creates a culture where exceptional customer service is a top priority, everybody else will follow suit.

They create a great working culture by leading by example because they know that actions speak louder than words and most people learn by observation. For instance, you can answer some calls in the presence of our agents and show them how to handle difficult customers.

Open communication

For any organisation to thrive, they need to have open communication policy. The employees should be comfortable to come to you for assistance.

Having a top-down communication only will paralyse your effort to deliver exceptional customer service. Open communication brings together people into strong teams.

Open communication also means that you provide your agents with all the information they require to meet customers’ needs. When you withhold information from the representatives, they will keep escalating issues to you. Therefore, you will waste time on one customer while the agent could have resolved the client’s problem if he had all the information.

These roles of top management, setting standards, empowering employees, improving processes, creating a positive working culture and fostering open communication moulds the contact centre to deliver great customer services. When the leadership is strong, the representative will be strong and the delivery of service will be strong.

Mandeya is an executive coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Leadership Institute for Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw, info@lird.co.zw or +263 772 466 925.

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