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How to Set Better Goals for Your Customer Service Team

Happy 2018, folks!  Ready or not, the new year is here.  And with the turn of the calendar comes everyone’s favorite annual process: goal setting! Sadly, this rite of passage is often overlooked or marginalized within customer service departments.  We can become wholly focused on things like quality scores, metrics, and new technology (all of which are extremely important), but annual goals should help you get out of the day-to-day way of thinking and practice continual improvement.  This post will offer three “big picture buckets” from which to pull meaningful, well-aligned goals. Follow these techniques to ensure 2018 is a year of positive change for your department!

Before we dive into the thought process of creating useful goals, let's look at what a goal is:

Goal (/gol/) - The object of a person’s ambition of effort, an aim or desired result.

Often, people try to set goals but end up with resolutions. A resolution is defined as follows:

Resolution (/rezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/) - A firm decision to do or not to do something  (Source - Google Dictionary)

These are two very different things. A goal is an expressed action that will move you toward a desired result. This desired result must be defined and understood for the goal to have meaning.  A resolution is simply a formal choice to do or not do something. It may or may not guide you toward a broader vision.

The key for a customer service leader is establishing the big picture first, then creating goals that align. Goal setting is very similar to doing a jigsaw puzzle.  Creating your goals as a leader is synonymous with putting the picture on the puzzle box.  Having now defined what the team is working toward, the individual goals are the pieces used to complete the picture.  If everyone is working off of a different vision, it’s like trying to fit together pieces from completely different puzzles.

Take for example the goal of “enhancing our self-service channel quality and usage in 2018.” This requires a coordinated effort from everyone to be successful.  If you simply set a goal to have agents “create three knowledge base articles a quarter,” you will likely end up with a lot of random and useless knowledge.

Alternatively, if you guide individual agents toward specific areas of need, you are sure to fill in your major gaps. It’s even better if you have the agent work on an area of knowledge in which you are trying to develop them. This will provide overlap and synergies between their various goals.

Beyond your own goals as a leader, there are two other “big picture” buckets that you should use for effective alignment.  The second is your Customer Service Vision.  Goals may come and go, but this vision statement is a guiding star for your department over the long-haul. If you haven’t created one yet, kick the year off right by taking the time to do so with your team. A worthwhile goal to complement your service vision could be to identify one way to reduce effort in either the agent experience or the customer experience in 2018.

The third “big picture” bucket is more specific to the individual employee. While setting the puzzle pieces in place for the continued evolution of your department, you should do the same thing for your team members. Hopefully, you’ve just done a round of performance reviews (see The Three C’s For Meaningful Performance Reviews here) and have a good idea of how each person would like to develop career-wise.  One of the agent's performance goals should encapsulate the next reasonable step down this path. It could be to receive a new type of training, own a cross-functional project with another department, or to read a personal development book you’ve selected for them. Not only will this make the employee more engaged day-to-day, but it will boost their loyalty to the organization if they feel they’re working for a leader who has their back and makes an effort to advance them professionally.

To bring it all together, here is an infographic depicting the three “big picture buckets” you have at your disposal:

Meaningful Goals

When you align these strategic goals alongside tactical goals coming out of quality management and coaching, you are sure to have a roadmap for a fantastic year!  

Are you doing anything innovative to equip your customer service team for success in 2018?  Share it in the comments below!