Getting started: Step 5 - Identity
In general, values support the vision of a company while also reflecting the company culture. Values help drive the company’s decision-making process and influence the company’s branding.
Values in customer support
If you set up values for your customer support, it has the same purpose and effect. The identity of your customer support is similar to your company’s brand. How do you want your customers to experience and describe the support they receive? Your identity is a compass, which you use to check if your support operation is performing as planned.
Deliberately setting your support team’s values can go a long way towards building a workplace mindset that brings everyone together with a shared purpose. It is important that the whole team is working in similar ways and towards the same goals. For example, a simple goal to start with is to have an agreement of how fast first responses should be provided. Shared goals can help maintain a consistent support experience, no matter who in your company answers a customer’s inquiry.
When your values are clear, your decisions are easy - Roy E. Disney
Defining values for your support can also benefit your decision-making. For example, if you encounter a rude customer, checking your internal values might help you react to the situation in the way that reflects your support identity. Or if a customer asks for something that requires a lot of manual work from you, what do your values say about running extra miles?
These definitions or values can be an effective base for internal quality checks. When performing these checks, every email conversation, chat or phone call can be mirrored against these agreed values to define if the established identity was aligned to or not. Monitoring quality internally is important as your customers do not know what kind of support you want to provide for them. So just following your Customer Satisfaction ratings (CSAT) is not enough, as your customers can only rate the support they experienced.
You can start the process of building your identity by setting expectations for your clients. This is done with the help of service description.
Support service description
One simple and easy way to share your identity with your customers is to write a service description for your support.
By providing concise documentation either as a part of your contract (one or two paragraphs) or as a separate document, you help your customers understand what they can expect from you. For example, how they can reach you, when, how fast they can expect to receive a reply, etc. Needless to say, exceeding these expectations is allowed! To quickly get started in creating your support service description, feel free to use the template I have made.
Define your values
When defining your values, get into the details, be concrete and specific! If you say that you run extra miles for your clients, what does that mean in practice?
Does it mean that you reply to their requests in the middle of the night, despite your support officially being open only during office hours?
Or does it mean that you turn every single stone to find a solution or at least a workaround for your customer’s problem?
What does it mean by you providing friendly support? How do you demonstrate friendliness?
Everyone has a different understanding of these, therefore very concrete and specific examples will help everyone to understand how these values are demonstrated in their daily work habits and behaviors.
How to get started with defining your support identity
One way is to think about this is how do you see and experience perfect support? If you have had great customer support experiences yourself, try to narrow down what were the components that made that experience memorable and great. Or if you had a bad experience, think about that and take the opposite of that experience as a part of your identity. Think about your business and your customers - what do they expect and what would they appreciate? Is it the speed of responses? A relaxed communication style? Extra tips and tricks? Is it the caring attitude, where you follow up that provided answers were helpful?
Keep in mind that customer support teams can only offer service as good as the rest of the company will allow. So it’s a good idea to connect your customer service values to the company-wide values, as this can help reinforce consistency on the company level.
To get more inspiration for building your support team’s identity, you can also check out your competitors and make yourself stand out by offering more or better support than them. If there are two equally good products, but one is packed with better support, it’ll likely attract more customers.
You can also make your internal values public, and be very transparent about what kind of customer support you are aiming to provide. Building hype around the excellent support you provide from the beginning of the journey of a new business can help to build reassurance and trust, as your customers know they will be assisted along the way.
Here are a few examples of companies who made their identities public:
Overall, use your support identity to your advantage, in order to boost trust and attract potential customers, while also reinforcing your company’s overall brand identity.