How to make collaboration a part of your support team's culture

When it comes to business-to-business customer support, the best experiences come from a team that is entirely on board and works together. That's why collaboration is such an important part of your support team's success. It's more than two people working alongside each other on the same project. Rather, collaboration is an idea built into the nature of the support team itself. When representatives help each other with tickets and share information, customers get better, faster results. Below are a few ways you can bring collaboration to your support team:

Encourage knowledge sharing
It's a simple fact that no one person has all the answers. Most agents encounter support issues that leave them stumped at one point or another. In these instances, they need to consult their other team members for help.

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The best customer support teams work together, not alone.

A comprehensive knowledge base eliminates the need for agents to scramble to find answers to issues that may have been addressed in the past. Instead, they can search through articles and find a quick answer. Similarly, businesses can create wikis that encourage team members to create their own support-related content and easily update it when the product changes or when other agents find points to add. This kind of group functionality promotes the kind of collaboration your team needs to address tickets more effectively. What may have once been an individual effort for each agent suddenly becomes a team effort that allows support representatives to tap into their colleagues' own experiences and knowledge.  

After these barriers to collaboration are lifted, your support team needs encouragement to work together. Recognize agents who help each other find creative solutions to satisfy customers. Eventually, collaboration will become second nature. 

Customer profiles with notes
Each customer has its individual nuances that set it apart from all others. Such information should be recorded in their profiles so everyone has access to it. Agents should be encouraged to make notes of any little details they come across that may be important later. These include a customer's preferred method of contact, important names within their business, unique software issues and more. Even if a current rep thinks such topics aren't worthy of writing down, that information could greatly help the next agent working with that particular customer. Your business should let everyone know to record such details through department-wide communication and by providing software with information-sharing capabilities. However, it's important to make sure these communications do not sound like a new initiative that takes up time and resources. Rather, the directive to maintain company profiles should sound like a smooth transition into the company's culture and values.

Internal chat and social communities
Customer support representatives need a work environment that's both professional and casual. Finding the right mix keeps them productive without feeling overwhelmed.

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A collaborative environment helps both customers and agents.

Office-wide internal chat capabilities promote conversations and teamwork without forcing agents to leave their workstations. Since chats are generally limited to two people, an internal forum is another feature that lets everyone participate in a conversation.

This is where management can lead by example, chatting with customer support agents for even nonsupport issues and using the forum to relay pertinent information. The more reps see their peers using these capabilities, the more comfortable they'll feel using the chat feature themselves.

Integrate with other departments
By integrating customer support software with other applications, all members of a business have a 360-degree view of each customer. This information lets them make more informed decisions regarding their own departments. For instance, when support software integrates with applications for customer relationship management, information is shared between sales and support. This gives agents the most recent data concerning the customer's contact information and any major changes within their organization. Similarly, sales and marketing teams have access to data from customer support, bringing collaboration to the company as a whole.

Most of these elements can be provided through collaborative customer support software, but the right spirit is necessary for agents to succeed. Customer support reps must feel comfortable working together and understand the customer's needs are what's most important.

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