What is collaborative customer service?
Often in customer service, your first point of contact will also be your last. If your question is relatively simple, that’s a perfectly sound way of handling customer queries. Once the issues become more complex, however, a single point of contact becomes less effective.
Ultimately, it’s unrealistic to expect every customer service agent to have the knowledge and information at their fingertips to deal with any query, regardless of how complex. In these situations, it often pays to consult colleagues as to the best way forward, fostering a collaborative way of working to share knowledge across the business.
However, doing this on an ad-hoc basis is fraught with issues; it still relies on a single point of contact and the particular customer service representative dealing with the issue fully understands the problem and solution.
A collaborative customer service is an approach that uses teams of agents to solve complex customer service cases. In this approach, customer service agents work with colleagues to solve complex issues in organised groups, ensuring the weight of each problem is shared between two or more agents at any one time and relieving the burden on the individual while promoting team-based problem-solving solutions.
And it makes sound business sense. The 2022 Customer Satisfaction Index found that 34% of respondents were prepared to pay more for excellent customer service, up from 29.5% in 2021 and 25.9% in 2020.
Collaborative customer service has several benefits:
Increase customer satisfaction
Collaborative customer service benefits customer service agents and leads to more efficient case management as other agents within the team can act as a failsafe against a lack of progress.
Reduce stress and workload
Promoting a collaborative customer service approach reduces overall stress and equalises your agents’ workload.
Boost morale and productivity
Team members no longer feel isolated and can work in teams to solve complex problems. Playing to each of their strengths means greater productivity and a greater sense of achievement.
How can technology support collaborative customer service?
Using real-time data to ascertain just how busy your customer service agents are is the key to balancing their workload. Mobile Service Cloud’s Agent Inbox has several features that make that simple.
How ‘open’ are your agents?
Knowing how many conversations your agents are dealing with at one time means workloads can be balanced effectively and new conversations can be assigned without overwhelming your team.
Agents who complete all conversations in their inbox can help colleagues out by taking ‘ownership’ of their conversations and helping to reduce the workload of struggling team members.
Stars and favourites
If you’ve split your customer service agents into teams, team members can star or favourite other members to give them first refusal on conversations, allowing team members to set up ‘super agent’ groups to tackle more complex customer service enquiries.
Online vs offline
An additional way to support teammates is the ability to change their status remotely and mark them offline if they forget or are struggling to cope with their current workload.
Customer success story: Absa Cape Epic
Absa Cape Epic improved the experience through a virtual race office and successfully implemented a WhatsApp chatbot.
Using historical data to define the most popular frequently asked questions, riders were able to access important information like start times and results, while supporters could access route maps at any time of the day. If the chatbot could not answer a question, those queries were routed to race control representatives, who could then respond in real-time to both riders and supporters via CM.com's Mobile Service Cloud.
Mobile Service Cloud is designed for collaborative customer service, underpinned by its Agent Inbox offering that’s been built from the ground up to enable multiple agents and departments – even third-party businesses – to collaborate.
Detailed customer profiles hold previous conversations between customers and colleagues – even across different platforms – to make getting up-to-speed on a specific case simple for anyone in your customer service team.
Communicating with external partners and suppliers is simple, as is the ability to share entire conversations so external teams can see the root of the issue. You can even search for conversations around specific keywords.