group of customer service employees

How to Excel at Managing a Customer Service Team

When managing a business – large or small – funds are allocated for the highest priority employees or teams. The importance of customer service excellence for an organization’s long-term success is proven, so having a great customer service team led by a qualified customer service manager is essential! However, it takes a very unique combination of knowledge, traits, and skills to work in the role of a customer service manager. Let’s explore some of the qualities you need to excel at managing a customer service team. 

What Makes a Great Leader?

As we went over in a previous blog, being able to successfully manage a team or department requires not only industry experience but exceptional leadership abilities. Great leaders understand how to not only motivate but also empower their employees. They set an example by creating an internal customer service culture and by continuously learning and improving industry best practices. Some outstanding leadership qualities include:

  1. Strong Communication Skills – Great leaders have great communication skills. They can convey business strategy, data and metrics, and motivational messages with the same level of enthusiasm and vigor. 
  2. Responsibility and Accountability – A great leader takes full responsibility for the success or failure of their team or department, and understands the level of personal accountability needed to justify their role.
  3. Genuine Passion – Outstanding leaders have passion for what they do and a genuine commitment to the organization and its people. That passion is what helps motivate and mobilize their teams. 
  4. Heightened Self-Awareness – Great managers have the ability to introspect. Awareness of your own “internal compass” – including your values and principles – is essential.  If you are self-aware, you are also more aware of your overt behavior, including the energy, tone, and engagement you bring to a discussion.
  5. Leadership Agility – Having an agile leadership style is becoming an increasingly important skill in today’s diverse business world. Being able to use a variety of leadership styles, such as consultative, participative, and directive, as needed, demonstrates a high level of agility.
  6. Courage and Resilience – The combination of courage and resilience is another important leadership quality. Whether you need the courage to convince an executive team on important decisions related to your division or the resilience to weather difficult times with your team, these qualities will go far in proving your strength as a leader.
  7. Exceptional Empathy – Last but not least, empathy is a very important leadership skill that cannot be emphasized enough – (so much so that we dedicated a blog to empathetic leadership). Empathy is especially important when managing a customer service team. Empathic leaders have interpersonal and intercultural sensitivity, active listening ability, and a concern for their team’s emotional well-being.

How to Build and Manage a Thriving Customer Service Team

Now that we know the leadership traits that are important to develop, let’s explore what will help you excel at managing a customer service team or division.

This requires some more specific skills and abilities beyond general leadership skills, which we’ll summarize below:

  • Customer Service Experience  – Ideally, a customer service manager would have worked their way up by gaining experience as a customer service specialist or representative. That way, they know what it is like to be at the frontline in direct interaction with customers. However, not all customer service managers have this experience, which brings us to the next point.
  • Customer Service Management Training – Depending on the company’s size and business sector, not all customer service managers start out in the customer service division. They may be a business manager or owner, sales manager, or marketing manager that has been transferred over to this role. In another scenario, a customer service professional may be promoted to customer service manager but may not feel 100% confident in their new role. In either of these cases, Certified Customer Service Manager training is important, since it provides the knowledge and tools needed to be successful in this role.
  • Ability to Build a Great Customer Service Team – Knowing how to find and hire the right people on your customer service team is an important aspect of this role. Customer service professionals need to have a special combination of skills and qualities, which a qualified manager will be able to look for during the hiring process. To quote German author and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.” 

  • Expertise in Onboarding and Training Employees – Taking a proactive role in the onboarding and training of your customer service employees will lay the foundation for a strong customer service culture, common goals, great teamwork, and employee engagement.
Employee smiling while handing a customer their purchase
  • Maintaining Internal and External Service Excellence – Conveying the importance of service excellence and continually motivating your teams to provide outstanding service is an essential part of this role. Using your leadership agility to change protocols and processes as needed in order to best serve your customers is equally crucial. 
  • Creative Collaboration with Other Teams – In this digital landscape – where consumers share their experiences online and influence each other’s buying decisions –  all departments need to be unified with the common goal of providing excellent service! Sales, marketing, operations and customer service teams should work in unison so customers aren’t only satisfied but delighted. They can also collaborate on creating a successful online reputation and customer marketing program.

These pointers are just a few examples but should help give you ideas on further developing your existing management skills, so you can excel at leading your customer service department or team. By doing so, you will continue to contribute to your organization’s long-term success!

Additional Resources 

5 Skills Of An Excellent Customer Service Manager

How To Demonstrate Empathetic Leadership In The Workplace – 6 Examples

Customer Service Protocols – What They Are And Why You Need Them

Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Customer Service Manual

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Customer Service Institute of America