How to Build a Successful Customer Service Team
With the rise of social media, online reviews and location-based consumer marketing, customer service is more important than ever. No matter the type of business you run, user experience can make or break your brand.
That's why San Francisco self-service software platform and events marketplace Eventbrite has prioritized customer service as integral to its organization. "The high standard that Eventbrite holds for service is central. It's the core of the company," says Courtney Duhring, Eventbrite's client services manager.
When Duhring joined Eventbrite in Februrary 2010, she was part of a five-person customer service team. "A year ago, we were 19 team members. And today, the group is 43 members strong, with seven people based in our London office, allowing us to collectively provide 24/7 phone and e-mail support," Duhring says.
Despite the team's aggressive growth, Duhring has upheld quality as the most important priority. Here, she shares the most valuable lessons she's learned.
Stand strong with your team's culture, no matter what it takes. As Eventbrite's customer base continues to grow, Duhring and her team face the complex challenge of staffing against the business's needs.
"One challenge that we recently focused very heavily on was finding and hiring rock stars for the team," explains Duhring. "We have a very high bar for every single person who joins us. It's by no means a cookie cutter set of requirements, but it combines the following characteristics: troubleshooting skills, thinking on your feet, the ability to ask questions, a desire to seek feedback, and an innate passion for helping people. Some people come to us with years of experience, and some people come in with new, fresh perspectives. It's this diversity that makes the team successful at the end of the day."
Perfect matches can be tough to find, but according to Duhring, it's worth the wait. "Because we have such a high standard, we're sometimes limited in our options, but we're not lowering any of those principles," she says. "We know that finding the right person will bring us success in the long term."
Trust in your team to be genuine, knowledgeable and personable. At Eventbrite's office, customer service is always tailored to the need at hand. "Every one of our team members is a product expert, which is exciting, especially as the company and product continue to grow," Duhring says. "Sometimes, people have this image of a call center as robotic and scripted. That's not what they find when they contact us. We look to individual team members to solve problems, think of best-practice advice, and show support in whatever way they think is best. Listening in on phone conversations, it's very clear that our team members are making connections."
Duhring also talks about the importance of being honesty with customers. She adds, "We're going to be transparent about what recommendations we make. If someone is looking for a tool that we don't have, we're not going to beat around the bush. We're going to tell them that it isn't available, but we'll come up with some great workarounds."
Enable the whole company to learn from client service. Eventbrite's client services team hosts a Voice of the Customer program for all employees, company-wide.
"We loved the idea of bringing everyone together," Duhring explains. “Product managers and engineers can collect direct feedback about features they have released. Marketing team members can hear how our customers actually describe their needs. It’s a powerful tool for everyone in the company, so when we have support team meetings, volunteers from other departments take over and answer the calls.”
Empower your team. With rapid business growth, employees can sometimes fall through the cracks. This should never happen, according to Duhring.
"When you think about the team growing so quickly, it's important that everyone feels like they're an integral part of the group and that they see their contribution," Duhring says. "We're always coming from the perspective of empowering our team. If you have a difficult situation that comes to you, trust your gut. We hired you for a reason, we know you care, and we want you to do the right thing."
Read more customer service advice.
Ritika Puri is a Los Angeles based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She's inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and sociology. Ritika blogs via Contently.com.