How to Use a CRM for Improved Customer Service
This article is part of a larger series on CRM.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a critical customer service tool that allows businesses to store customer data and provide a platform to manage and resolve queries more efficiently. When used properly, a customer service CRM does this by bringing together essential information about a customer, such as their interests, communication history, and past queries, in a central platform, thereby enabling agents to provide better customer support.
Setting up and using your CRM system for customer service can be summed up in six essential steps. Below, we discuss each step in detail to guide you through the process.
1. Assemble a Customer Service Team & Set Their Roles in the CRM
It is important to have the right team to manage the customer service tools in your CRM. If you’re running a business that services a large number of customers, it is ideal to set up a dedicated customer service team with properly identified roles and responsibilities. However, if you’re running a smaller business, you can assign team members who take on customer service tasks on top of their other responsibilities.
Below are key members you need to assign to your customer service team:
- Customer service agents: These are your frontliners and the people directly taking customer calls, queries, and questions via email, phone, live chat, and other messaging channels. They are also in charge of raising tickets, coordinating with the internal team to resolve issues, and closing cases.
- Customer service supervisors: The customer service supervisor or manager is tasked to oversee a group of customer service agents, ensuring they handle queries properly. They usually monitor or observe how agents talk to customers and coach them to improve the quality of support being provided.
- Customer success manager: This person is responsible for building relationships with your most important customers. The customer success manager usually works directly with key customers, monitoring their satisfaction and ensuring that they get the most out of their purchases.
Once you’ve identified the members of your customer service team, set their roles and permissions accordingly in your CRM software. These vary based on the hierarchy of the position. Customer service agents’ roles and access are typically limited to viewing and logging tasks. On the other hand, supervisors can create, reassign, delete, and view tasks of all agents assigned to them.
2. Identify Customer Service Protocols & Processes
Upon assigning and identifying the roles and responsibilities of your customer service team, the next step is to develop the process for managing customer queries. Ensure proper protocols are in place for resolving queries or routing more pressing issues to the appropriate person in a timely manner.
Work with your customer service team to create flowcharts and figure out a step-by-step guide for processing queries. The steps can include answering the call, looking through your frequently asked questions (FAQ) document, and directing issues to the customer service manager for more difficult concerns.
Pro tip: To make your customer support more efficient, list anticipated common questions in a FAQ document. Your agents can refer to it and answer queries instantly. The document can include product, pricing, and feature-related questions.
In addition to identifying processes, set auto-routing rules within your CRM so cases are automatically assigned to appropriate agents. For example, some agents specialize in handling specific topics or issues, such as product-related or technical questions. Setting rules that auto-route specific queries to them will increase efficiency in your system.
3. Input All Customer Data in Your CRM
One of the most essential aspects of providing high-quality customer service to your customers is ensuring you have their complete data. Using your CRM’s contact and lead management features, input all pertinent data into their profile. You can include personal and business information and social media accounts, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
When configured correctly, customer profile data will be synchronized with all the activities related to them, including past interactions, previous issues raised, and related deals. This allows your customer service agents to know everything about a particular customer and provide a personalized customer support experience.
4. Integrate Third-party Apps & Messaging Tools
Once you’ve identified the process of how customer inquiries should be handled, the next step is to identify the touchpoints you plan to use when communicating with them. Below are samples of various communication channels to consider, which we divided into two: website-based touchpoints and third-party apps.
Pro tip: These tools are various channels and touchpoints you can connect to your CRM. You can also choose to use CRMs that provide readily available communication channels inside the app, including email, messaging, live chat, and in-app telephony.
- Web inquiry forms: These forms are usually found on the “Contact Us” page, where customers or potential leads can input their contact details and ask questions about your products or services.
- Live chat or chatbots: These chat boxes typically appear at the bottom right side of your website, allowing website visitors to send questions to your customer service team. Depending on the availability of agents, their questions may be answered instantly.
- VoIP systems: If you are using a separate voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system, you can integrate it into your CRM tool so calls with your customers are automatically synced between the two tools.
- Help desk systems: Integrating your CRM with your help desk software syncs customer data, so it’s easier to access past issues involving a customer, previous communications, and payment or billing information.
- Social media messenger apps: This is ideal for businesses that communicate with their customers using social media. They can read messages and queries from their social media accounts right inside their CRM. Popular messaging apps include Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Viber.
5. Train & Hold Recurring Feedback Sessions With Your Reps
After setting up the required data, processes, and integrations, the next step is to train your customer service team on how to handle and manage customer queries. Below are some ways on how you can train them:
Familiarization With the FAQ Document
An FAQ document is a must for all customer service teams. It provides agents with a master reference document with all the information they need to answer common questions from customers. Familiarizing themselves with the FAQ document is the most basic step toward resolving customer queries faster.
Your FAQ can cover specific topics and questions, such as:
Pricing & Payment
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- Do you accept international credit cards?
- What are your available pricing tiers?
Exchanges & Returns
- How do I know if I’m eligible for a refund?
- How long does it take to process a refund?
- Can I exchange an item I purchased using a gift card?
One of the most efficient ways to test an agent’s capability to handle customer calls is to make them answer mock calls. These calls are held using a role-play setting where the supervisor acts as a customer and the agent attempts to answer the query. Calls are usually based on typical customer complaints and queries, so agents can be tested on handling or resolving these issues.
Have agents listen in to the recordings of their call simulation sessions or other pre-recorded conversations. It is an effective way to point out areas that need work, such as their tonality when speaking to customers, manner of escalating an issue, and the average time that they spent in closing a case.
After training your customer service agents and having them take actual customer calls, assess and evaluate their performance by conducting regular feedback sessions. As they progress with their customer support tasks, types of queries will also vary. Hence, holding recurring sessions—ideally monthly—helps.
6. Regularly Extract Customer Service Reports
CRMs let you generate customer service reports, giving a general overview of your team’s performance. Some reports provide individual agent performance summaries, customer satisfaction ratings, number of issues resolved, and average time to close cases. Regularly reviewing your customer service reports allows you to identify areas that need improvement, such as speed of closing cases or overall customer satisfaction.
CRMs With the Best Customer Service Features
Many CRMs for small businesses offer in-app features or third-party integrations for customer service, allowing you to manage all your customer service needs in one place. Below, we share some of our top picks and their specific features that help improve the quality of the support and service you provide to your customers.
Agile CRM provides extensive customer service tools, such as help desk ticketing, issue-based assignments, ticket feedback, live chat, and customer support analytics. It also integrates with various social media pages, such as Facebook and Twitter, helping users monitor customer conversations and respond publicly or privately to messages. Agile CRM has a free version with an allocation for 10 users, while its paid plans start at $9.99 per user, per month.
Check out our Agile CRM review to learn more about the customer service features of this software.
Freshsales integrates with various messaging apps, such as SMS, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. It also integrates seamlessly with its help desk counterpart app, Freshdesk, centralizing all tickets and queries in a single platform. Its widget app auto-routes incoming messages to specific agents based on their topic expertise. Freshsales offers a free plan with unlimited user allocation, while its paid plans start at $15 per user, per month.
Check out our Freshsales review to learn more about the customer service features of this software.
HubSpot Service Hub
HubSpot’s Service Hub, which can be purchased on top of its free CRM, offers a wide range of customer service tools, such as chatbots, team email, canned snippets, and email templates. It provides various customer service reports, including the number of tickets closed and agent productivity. HubSpot’s CRM is free for unlimited users, while paid plans for its Service Hub start at $45 per month for two users.
Check out our HubSpot CRM review to learn more about the customer service offerings of this provider.
When paired with the right people and processes, CRMs serve as a powerful tool in improving the overall quality of support you provide to your customers. The right CRM system empowers your team by giving them a holistic view of customer profiles. You can also access past interactions with customers and get feedback on the quality of your customer service.