Maintain structure in your meetings, set clear objectives, measure performance and your customer support team will be as good as gold.
As a manager of a support team, your work is never done. Now that you have hired a fantastic team, how do you continue to level up?
It’s important to keep your thumb on the pulse of how your team is doing—but how do you do it? We’ve put together a few suggestions on how to best measuring performance and maintain transparency with your performance management strategy within your customer support team.
Full transparency should be afforded to any metrics that you use to measure the success of your support team, and not just during customer support performance reviews.
Giving agents full visibility into your company metrics lets them benchmark themselves against their own goals, the goals you’ve set and how their team members are doing. If you let the team see how they and their peers are performing on a daily, weekly, monthly and otherwise basis, you might find that they start to ramp up their expectations of how well they should do.
Beyond that, though, keeping your metrics transparent, open, and available for everyone to see accomplishes several other very important things to help with measuring performance in customer support.
When a person can see how they are doing day-over-day and week-over-week, it changes their perception of their performance. They want to continue to grow and get better, and it’s obvious when they are not performing as well as they could be.
Empowering your support team by allowing them to see performance metrics is incredibly valuable because it means that they own the definition of what success looks like and creates alignment amongst team members.
Similarly, when you can see yourself compared to everyone else on the team, it helps you understand a bit more about what the landscape looks like. No one wants to be at the bottom of the barrel, and it feels good to be at the top of the charts.
Create a little bit of incentive and accountability to perform by making the numbers and metrics your team uses transparent and available to all.
Benchmarks for future growth
Everyone wants to get better, and there is no better way to show growth than solid numbers.
When you have a transparent and open track record of how a person has been performing, it allows everyone, including the person themselves, to see how much small (or large) changes in their approach can impact their performance within the queue and otherwise.
Similarly, if you have set benchmarks for quality or promotion within your organization, keeping these numbers transparent so everyone can see them means that everyone knows where they stand.
Celebrate personal wins
When someone is totally slaying, the numbers show it. They’ll consistently be at the top of the charts, their response time will always be low, and their happiness ratings always high. These types of performers are integral to your team’s success and, as such, deserve to be celebrated.
Maybe it’s not even just an individual that deserves to be celebrated, but perhaps the team as a whole has been operating on all cylinders for the quarter and has smashed all of their metrics.
With the transparency of your metrics being what it is, everyone at the company and on the team knows how amazing your team has been doing, and everyone can join in on the celebration.
Support is often one of the least recognized teams for their impact, so it can be incredibly meaningful to be recognized for a contribution, especially one as measurable and straightforward as metrics.
Assess in 1:1 and review processes
You should already have a regular cadence of meetings in place to focus on customer support career development, but if you don’t: now’s the time to start.
Keeping a regularly scheduled set of meetings and implementing some process around customer support performance review makes managing performance that much easier, and also allows your employees to know what to expect.
Here are a few different ways to make sure that both your review process and your 1:1s are beneficial for both you and your employees.
Getting the right balance in your 1:1s
Depending on how big your team is and what the structure looks like, 1:1s may be the only time that you, as a manager, get to talk to your frontline support people. It is so important that you respect that time and make the most of it, but there’s a balance to making your meeting magical.
How can you create a bond with your employee, assess and address their performance, and also talk about any insights they have regarding company performance? Here are some ways to balance out that chaos:
Anytime you’re discussing an employee’s performance with them—whether it be offering positive or constructive insights—make sure to be as specific and evidence-driven as you can be. In this case, the best way to do that is with the metrics provided by your help desk and any other internal tools you use.
Always make sure to dedicate a portion of your meeting time to going over their metrics and how they are doing based on the benchmarks that we talked about above.
Ask your team members how they’re doing. Support people take on the emotional burden of every individual that they talk to—if you are a high-volume inbox, that means they may be taking on energy from 40 to 50 usually-unhappy people in a day. Even if they don’t respond in the beginning, take time to ask them how they are feeling during every single one-on-one.
If they just shrug and smile, that’s fine, but if you ask enough times, they’ll learn that you’re committed in your curiosity and care, and may begin opening up if something actually is wrong.
Take the time in your 1:1s to directly ask what your support people would like to do with their future at the company and their future in support.
Asking questions like that does a few things: shows that you care about what they want to do and their development, allows you to have a deeper understanding of what development goals you may need to plan for moving forward, and provides insights into what kind of opportunities the person sees as available or needed at your company.
For example, if they say that they would really like to someday move into a role that specifically manages all of the integrations your company offers, that may mean that they see a need for someone to be taking care of that. Use that and dig deeper.
You’ll keep more people if you care about—and invest in—their development.
Create a regular review process
Many smaller companies don’t have any review process in place, and just review and offer raises as the time comes. That being said, even if it may feel “early” having a regular review process in place can build trust with the employee, make them feel more comfortable in understanding where they “stand” within the company, and understand how their performance is judged.
Here are a few ways to start having a regular review process if you don’t already:
On the same cadence
Have your reviews regularly. That might mean that you have them once a month, once a quarter, or annually. No matter which cadence you choose, make sure you stick to it, or communicate to the whole team why and how it’s changing.
At the same time/place
Keep your reviews at the same time and place each time you do them, just the same as you would do with 1:1s. This creates trust within your team—there is nothing that destroys trust and makes your employee feel more undervalued more than skipping or rescheduling a review or 1:1 last minute.
30/60/90 and annual reviews should be procedural
Use the same template for every 30/60/90 and annual review.
Your employees should know what to expect, and not come into the meeting wondering what you’re going to say. Similarly, the structure of the meeting itself should follow a procedure that remains the same for every employee. So, if they’ve already had an annual review in the past, they’ll know what to expect.
Performance management can be incredibly difficult, especially with the number of soft skills and emotions that come into play with an excellent team. We hope that with some of the tips we’ve provided will make managing your high-performing customer support agents a little bit easier and straightforward.
Maintain structure in your meetings, set clear objectives, and allow for transparency in your metrics and measuring performance, and your customer support team will be as good as gold.