I spent two years of my career working for the HubSpot customer support team as a frontline rep. What amazed me was that most people on the team didn't have an extensive background in technical engineering or IT support. Instead, we hired people who demonstrated a customer service mindset and helped them master the HubSpot product as well as their technical skills.
This created a customer service team that could not only find solutions but communicate them clearly to customers.
And, since we already possessed a customer service mindset, it was easier to train our team. Management centered training around the HubSpot product while implementing our service culture throughout each exercise. Reps, in turn, developed an effective balance of soft and technical skills that would help them create delightful customer experiences.
But, HubSpot's not the only company to adopt this approach. Retailers like Zappos and Dollar Shave Club use a similar strategy to carve out a competitive reputation in their distinct marketplaces. Companies like these are finding it's easier to train employees on products, processes, and protocols than it is to teach them to be customer-centric.
Don't worry, if you already have a customer service team, it's not too late to adopt this approach. In this post, we'll dive into the customer service mindset, including what it is, what it looks like, and how you can instill it in your team.
Customer Service Mindset
The customer service mindset isn't just solving problems for customers. It's about creating a delightful experience that develops long-term rapport and loyalty. Doing so fosters customer success as well as high retention rates.
Reps who possess a customer service mindset are focused on creating added value for customers. Agents are invested in the customer's goals and are committed to helping them achieve them. Whether it's finding a unique solution to a complex problem, supplying a discount to diffuse tension, or simply providing friendly and helpful service, this approach is centered around short- and long-term customer success.
As you can guess, there are plenty of benefits that your business can gain from this. First, customers will be happy with their service experience leading to increases in customer satisfaction and positive online reviews. Your business can leverage these stories by creating customer testimonials and sharing them on social media channels. Not only does this build a positive reputation for your brand, but it's also an effective marketing tool for acquiring new leads.
Example of Customer Service Mindset
If you're not sure what the standard is for a customer service mindset, this example from the HubSpot Support Team will help clear things up.
One of my colleagues was working with a customer on her connected email inbox. After solving the issue, the customer had one additional question regarding her email signature. She was using a tool that was not supported by our team but wanted to see if we could help anyway.
After playing around with the signature for a few minutes, the customer decided it was better to leave it and she'll come back to it another day. She hung up the phone, closed the support ticket, and gave the rep a perfect NPS.
But, the rep wasn't satisfied. He felt aligned with the customer's goals and wasn't "going to accept defeat at the hands of a primitive signature tool." So, he set aside time to explore the tool and eventually found a solution. He reopened the ticket and reached out to the customer who was utterly delighted with this surprise.
This is the customer service mindset. It's solving for as many customer needs as possible, regardless of the review they give you. Doing so creates memorable moments like these that lead to loyal, long-term customers.
Now that we've described the customer service mindset, let's explore how your team can adopt it in the section below.
How to Adopt a Customer Service Mindset
1. Lead by example.
If you want to adopt a customer service mindset, it needs to be a part of your team's culture. To do that, management has to set an example by leading the way for the rest of the team. This means capitalizing on opportunities to provide outsized value to both customers and service reps. If reps see that management has their customer base as well as their own interests at heart, they'll feel encouraged to take the same approach.
2. Adopt a team motto.
A team motto can act as a mission statement for your customer service team. At HubSpot, we use the acronym, "SFTC," which stands for "solve for the customer." We'll dive into this idea later, but the motto itself gives our support team a clear call-to-action that they can rally behind.
When picking your team's motto, keep it simple and to the point. It should be focused on the customer and encourage reps to provide consistent, excellent service. That way, your reps will understand the standard of service that you and your customers are expecting.
For example, reps can read case studies from customers who have succeeded or failed with your business. They'll learn why people love your company and why some customers choose to leave. This will get them familiar with the people they're interacting with and have a better understanding of their needs and goals. As a result, your team will know how to approach interactions in ways that yield a positive outcome.
4. Host weekly, monthly, or quarterly contests.
One way to keep service employees engaged is with weekly or monthly contests. These can be centered around reps who take the most cases or have the highest customer satisfaction scores. Or, you can host team contests to promote collaboration across your entire department. Whichever route you choose, pick an incentive to motivate your reps and create a competition that drives excellent service and productivity.
5. Collect and review customer feedback.
When you're a customer service rep, customer feedback is both a reward and a reminder. While it feels great when you receive positive feedback, you're reminded about consistency whenever you get a negative review.
This is why it's important to collect feedback and review it with your reps. They should have access to what customers are saying about them and you should talk about interactions where customer satisfaction fell short. This help reduce burnout for experienced reps by giving them more skills to master during their day-to-day workflow.
6. Build long-term customer rapport.
While your reps should be trying to solve issues as quickly as possible, they should also be finding ways to build rapport with customers. After all, it's likely some of your customers will be frequent users of your support services. So, the better the relationship you develop with these customers, the smoother their interactions will go.
If you have a growing customer base, you might need personalization tools to make this possible. For example, a CRM can store customer data, so your reps can recall information from past interactions while they're talking with a customer. Even if the rep hasn't worked with the person before, they can see if they're having a reoccurring issue and save them from having to repeat explanations about the problem or steps they've taken to resolve it. This removes friction from the service experience and makes customers more excited to work with your support team.
7. Provide access to customer service reports.
Some reps get competitive when it comes to metrics and statistics. The numbers help them visualize their success and track their progress over time. You should empower these employees by removing data silos and making service reports widely available to your team. That way, reps know exactly where they stand when it comes to the service metrics that management cares about most.
8. Create opportunities that aren't customer-facing.
When you're solving similar issues, again and again, customer service can sometimes feel tedious. Tenured reps often experience burnout once they've mastered the fundamentals of their role and don't feel challenged by common problems. This can cause them to lose focus and make mistakes during routine service cases.
To keep experienced reps engaged, present them with projects and opportunities that aren't customer-facing. For example, when HubSpot was scaling its customer support team, we asked reps to write self-service support content. This gave team members a break from their normal routine and let them focus on a different type of project. A temporary change of pace was refreshing for reps and gave them an opportunity to showcase under-utilized career skills.
9. Recognize team and individual success.
If employees aren't rewarded for their hard work, there's not much incentive for them to do it. Without a system in place that recognizes work ethic, reps will be content with providing the bare minimum. While this may be enough to avoid negative interactions, it won't win you any loyalty either.
Instead, create a system that rewards both individual and team success. This way, everyone will feel included and motivated to do their best. Even if you're not interested in winning an individual award, it's hard to let down your teammates who are all pushing towards the same goal.
10. Solve for the customer, not your solutions.
Earlier in this post, I talked about how this was HubSpot's customer support motto. However, this mantra is applicable to any customer service team.
Your reps should always try to provide solutions that fit customer needs not their own convenience. Rather than looking for shortcuts or quick fixes, service reps should strive for long-term solutions that lead to customer success. These solutions are harder to find and take more effort to execute but are well worth the investment. They show customers you genuinely care about their goals and are not just trying to leverage customer service as another marketing tool.