Setting the right customer service goals for your service team

By Daniel Tay

Published March 13, 2013
Last updated March 13, 2013

Finding the right balance for setting customer service goals is integral to improving the customer experience. As front-line employees, it’s all the more important that every customer service representative is suitably motivated by the right goals. After all, it's their job to give outstanding service and an unforgettable customer experience.

Here are some points to take note of—along with some examples—you can use when setting customer service goals:

1. Be specific with goals

A general goal does not guarantee the performance of the team will improve or that the customer will be happier—it merely ensures that the they will perform the task. For example, if the management goal I set for customer service is, ‘Respond quickly to customers’ needs', one customer service representative might define “quickly” as within 24 hours, while another might define is within a week. The job is completed, but no performance standards are set.

If the objective is to ‘Respond to a customer request for support within an hour’, the bar is set clearly. This way everyone will know exactly what activity constitutes as poor or good job, and as a result, will strive to meet it. However, when providing management over customer service, be wary of what you incentivize. Providing incentives for meeting performance standards reinforces that the task at hand is part of the job, and might have an adverse effect on intrinsic motivation for work. Additionally, it might indicate that a particular goal is more important than the rest, resulting in a detrimental effect on their customer service. And of course, might indicate that the goal itself, and not the benefit of the customer, has been made too high a priority.

2. Find the right bottom-line

In order to avoid over-emphasizing any particular customer service objectives, communication of the the bottom-line is important for undergirding your customer service goals—in other words, the customer service ethos that should guide and motivate your team and their process.

It is crucial that your team aims to meet a higher purpose rather than simply striving to hit a quota and call it a day. By shifting the focus to intrinsic work values, the team will be motivated to perform customer service tasks to the best of their abilities, and not just for the sake of their job description.

For anyone whose job it is to offer a great customer experience, the bottom-line should be relationship-oriented, rather than results-oriented. Something like “Improve customers satisfaction” is much less prone to unclear interpretation than “Serve as many chats as possible" or "decrease response time on social media".

Management of customer service that focuses purely on results will lack the human edge that adds that effective spark to the service provided. Actions such as going the going above and beyond the typical job for your customer might not seem logical to do when everyone simply desires to be efficient in meeting an objective and leave it there.

A terrific example of illogical but heart-warming (and certainly memorable) customer service that went beyond the call of duty would be LEGO’s letter to a 7-year old customer that went viral. That's the kind of feedback that any customer service organization would want.

3. Align goals with company direction and expectation of the customer

A leg that goes left while the rest of the body goes right will cause the entire body to fall. In the same way, customer service management needs ensure that training provides the skills and strategies that dovetail with the company’s overall direction. A customer service team that has such goals will support the company well.

Additionally, if your customer team perceives that their job has a direct positive impact on the company as a whole, they will certainly be more motivated to work more diligently. For instance, our goal of ‘Making as many customers as possible happy’ should dovetail with the company's intent of ‘delivering customer wow’ there is a direct correlation between the team’s objective, the company’s aims, and the improved experience of the customer.

4. Don’t neglect personal/individual goals

Finally, it is important to remember that your company is fundamentally made up of individual employees, though all doing the job of customer service, have varying levels of motivation and skill. After all, a you're only as strong as its weakest individual, and one single weak link can easily shatter a whole chain.

Meet up with the individuals within customer service, and work with them to set personal goals according to each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. In training them, provide clear objectives that are challenging but attainable, and regularly check their progress. By letting them improve themselves as individuals, you are helping them improve their skills and your overall customer service as well.

As strange as it seems, it might actually help to align personal goals with business objectives. If your business objective is to provide great customer service, a personal goal could be to respond more creatively, allowing the employee to grow as a person and in their job.

5. Find the right balance

As we have previously affirmed, goal setting is a difficult job. It is crucial that customer service goals are well-balanced in all the ways mentioned above. An optimum balance can only be reached when all these things are considered as a whole, from a macro-company perspective right down to training every individual employee. At Zendesk we believe that proper customer service goals are integral to the growth of every customer service representative, and because of that, they are reviewed all the time. Perhaps you can use these tips when you next review or set goals!

This post was originally published by Zopim. Since joining Zendesk, Zopim has been welcomed into our product family as Zendesk Chat, along with a number of treasured belongings.