Customer Service Management

Customer Service Management: A Complete Guide for Managers

Evgeni Yordanov
Nov 8, 2023

Table of contents

Customer Service Management

Customer Service Management: A Complete Guide for Managers

Evgeni Yordanov
Nov 8, 2023

Your first priority as a customer service manager should ensure fast, consistent, high-quality support. 

However, good customer service management can be very complex, requiring technical skills and an understanding of many interconnected operational tasks. Strong people and team management skills are the foundation for success. 

In this guide, you’ll learn customer service management and how to improve as a leader. Here’s everything we cover below:


What is customer service management?

Customer service management is the role of running a customer service team in a way that ensures customer satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term retention. 

This involves various tasks, from hiring agents to ensuring everyone on the team has the necessary tools and resources to do their job. 

We can organize these tasks into two broad categories:

  • People and team management, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
  • Operational management and optimization, which we’ll discuss later in this guide.

What is customer service team management? 

Customer service team management is the collection of actions the customer service manager takes to consistently enable agents to perform their job well. This can include a whole range of activities, including:

  • Hiring agents with the right customer service skills and attitude
  • Training them on how to deal with different customer inquiries
  • Setting standards for individual agents and the team as a whole
  • Providing regular feedback and constructive criticism when necessary
  • Establishing targets, metrics, and KPIs for the customer service team and analyzing agents’ performance based on them

What a smoothly functioning customer service team looks like

As a customer service manager, most of the success of the customer service team rests on you. It’s your job to build the team and the rules, systems, and guidelines agents will use daily. 

A helpful starting point is to learn what a smoothly functioning customer support team should look like. This will help you lay the foundation for effective customer service management.

Easy interdepartmental communication

As with all other team activities, internal communication is the key to success. In a good customer service operation, agents are ready to communicate and have the tools to do so.

For example, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other chat and video conferencing software should always be available for real-time communication in urgent situations. Asynchronous communication methods like email should be encouraged in other cases. 

As a manager, it’s your job to set clear rules around communication methods in different situations (e.g., no real-time calls where an asynchronous email or Slack message will do). Good communication rules can guarantee that everyone values their colleagues' time and attention.

Clearly defined workflows

A good customer service manager ensures each agent knows:

  • How to handle common inquiries, e.g., where to look for information, when to escalate the issue, etc.
  • What to do in abnormal situations.
  • What’s expected of them in terms of response and resolution times.

The key here is that agents should have this information before they need it. 

💡 Tip: Build a detailed hub of all the essential documents and information your agents need. This can include your customer service policy, refund and return policies, escalation rules, video walkthroughs of challenging situations, and much more.

“Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup –– taking care of yourself is beneficial for you and crucial for your ability to support your customers effectively.” - Eli Weiss, CX Unlocked

Low stress and less risk of burnout

High-stress environments and burnout are all too familiar in customer service. This often stems from understaffing, poor training, or confusing workflows. 

Eli Weiss provides a few great tips for avoiding burnout in his CX Unlocked Guidebook:

  1. Practice mindfulness. Train your team to recognize when they’re starting to feel frustrated. That might look like realizing when a customer’s harsh tone is beginning to bother them, taking a moment, and responding calmly (rather than acting on impulse). 
  2. Create and respect boundaries. Designate “work-free” zones in your life. These could be certain hours of the day, specific locations, or even mental spaces.
  3. Celebrate every win, no matter how small. Boost morale and motivation by reminding your team how amazing they're doing.

Performance tied to specific KPIs

A big part of customer service management is evaluating your team’s performance. The only way to do that fairly is to use specific, measurable key performance metrics (KPIs). This ensures you’re evaluating agents objectively, giving them clarity and goals to aim for. 

For example, response and resolution times are two of the most critical metrics for any support team. Keeping them consistently low shows a well-managed, prepared, appropriately trained team. It also shows that there are enough agents to handle the incoming inquiries.

The better your agents’ time management skills, the faster their response and resolution times will be. As a manager, you can help your team prioritize tickets and reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks with automation (like Rules) and pre-made template resources (like Macros).

Also, remember that while industry-standard KPIs are helpful, you shouldn’t use them just because other organizations do so. All KPIs should be tailored to your customer service and business goals — whether that’s higher customer satisfaction, better customer engagement, more revenue, higher on-site conversion rates, or anything else.

Five most important tips for first-time customer service managers

First-time managers can easily find themselves overloaded with information about customer service management. So, we’ve gathered five essential tips to help you get started.

1) Put your team first

This doesn’t just mean monitoring agents’ performance. It means being there for them when they need you, whether it’s about work or their personal lives. Team members must know they can count on you when it matters.

That’s also why regular 1:1s are essential. They allow you to check in on everyone and detect potential problems early on. 

2) Don’t neglect customer self-service 

Customer self-service combines technology and resources, allowing current and new customers to resolve issues independently. For example, FAQ pages, articles, videos, self-service chatbot flows, and other resources can help massively reduce repetitive support tickets.

Besides being beneficial for your agents, offering self-service is a must for customers. According to Statista, 88% of customers in the US expect companies to provide a self-service support portal. 

3) Fill the valleys before creating the peaks 

Eli quotes this tip from The Power of Moments by Dan and Chip Heath in his guidebook. 

The premise? Focus on finding and fixing the problems your customers face before trying to wow them with exceptional customer service experiences. That way, you’re laying a good foundation for your customer service strategy.

Any customer journey has its low points (i.e., valleys). You can identify these with data analytics or customer feedback. Once you’ve addressed the problems, you can move on to creating the “peaks” that form a truly memorable experience and build customer loyalty.

4) Give agents the techniques, tools, and guidance they need for success

Agents can’t be expected to do their job well without the necessary resources. As their manager, it’s your job to give them:

  • Impactful customer support tools, like a powerful and versatile helpdesk (like Gorgias).  
  • Clear and specific standards and goals, like each customer service channel's expected response and resolution times (if you take an omnichannel approach).
  • Extensive training materials during their onboarding, like articles, videos, workshops, webinars, and more. These should be tailored to each team since call center agents will need different institutions for handling customer requests than ones providing support via written communication channels like email or SMS.
  • Regular feedback, like how well they’re performing, their strengths, and where they can improve.

5) Analyze results and base decisions on reliable data

Customer service is ultimately about people, which makes it easy to let subjective opinions affect your judgment. However, accurate data is a much more reliable gauge of how your team is performing.

It allows you to avoid biases and enables key outcomes like customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention to guide your decisions. We’ll explore some key metrics that can help you in this regard below.

How to measure your customer service team’s performance

Evaluating the impact of a customer service team can be a complex and nuanced task. There are many factors and metrics to consider, which can easily overwhelm first-time managers.

Below, we’re keeping things simple by focusing on three key ways to gauge your team’s performance.

Tie support tickets to revenue

The best way to get buy-in from stakeholders for your customer service program is to prove its impact on business outcomes. That’s why it’s a good idea to track metrics related to revenue, including: 

This will help you prove customer service ROI and get buy-in for future new hires, software, or training.

Get direct customer feedback

Support interactions can massively impact customers’ overall experience with your brand. It’s crucial to keep a pulse on your customers’ opinions of them, especially since people who rate their experience with a company as very good are 94% more likely to buy again, according to Qualtrics.

You can do this by running regular customer satisfaction surveys. For example, you can run a quick, low-friction survey by asking customers, “On a scale from 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with your experience today?”.

Taking the total number of 4- or 5-star responses, dividing it by the total number of responses, and multiplying the result by 100 will give you a customer satisfaction (CSAT) score — a key metric for measuring support performance.

Customer satisfaction score CSAT calculation formula
Source: Gorgias

Track key customer service performance metrics

You can use many quantifiable metrics to gauge your team’s performance. Here are some of the most widely used ones:

  • First response time (FRT) is the time that elapses between a customer's question and your team’s initial response. Aim to keep FRT as short as possible, especially on real-time channels like live chat and SMS. 
  • Resolution time is the amount of time a customer spends interacting with a business’s customer support, helpdesk, or customer service team before their issue is solved. Like with FRT, the lower your resolution times, the better.
  • Support performance score, which represents the overall performance of your team (or an individual agent). This unique metric we developed for our in-house team at Gorgias combines average first response time, average resolution time, and CSAT. The result is a score between 1 and 5, representing the team’s (or an individual agent’s) performance.

Support performance score Gorgias customer service metric
Source: Gorgias

Like with CSAT scores, Gorgias can track these metrics for you and give you a more nuanced view of them. For example, you can use our software to analyze average resolution time by channels, agents, time frames, and more.

Performance overview on Gorgias
Source: Gorgias

Four essential tools and resources for customer service managers

1) Helpdesk

Helpdesks are platforms that help manage all of your customer service interactions. Collaborate on managing, organizing, responding to, and reporting on customer tickets. Or, set up automation for key processes like ticket prioritization. 

For example, Gorgias can enable your team to:

  • Manage tickets. This can include simple actions like closing, assigning, and resolving tickets. It can also involve more complex automation around ticket tagging, categorizing, and more.
  • Centralize customer communications from multiple channels — like email, SMS, social media, WhatsApp, and live chat. This can drastically simplify agents’ workflows by giving them a unified view of all customer interactions and relevant customer data in one place, so they don’t have to constantly switch between tabs.
  • Implement proactive customer service. For example, your agents can proactively contact customers via a live chat widget to walk them through the purchase process. They can even automate this process and trigger a live chat only in certain situations, e.g., when customers reach specific cart values or linger on a purchase page.

Reactive and proactive customer service
Source: Gorgias
  • Track key metrics and measure support performance. Gorgias can help you monitor response and resolution times, open and closed tickets, CSAT scores, and more.

Statistics Overview on Gorgias
Source: Gorgias

2) Self-service tools 

Customer self-service combines technology and resources that let customers resolve issues independently. 

Self-service is great for your support team and your customers because:

  • Agents don’t have to deal with as many repetitive tickets, which reduces their stress and ensures their focus is on high-value activities. 
  • Customers don’t have to wait for a response from a live agent.

Common self-service resources include:

  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages. One of the simplest resources to create, FAQ pages provide straightforward answers to customer questions. These pages are often grouped together so customers can find what they need by browsing categories or using a search function, as shown in the example below. 

Steve Madden Help Center
Source: Steve Madden
  • Knowledge bases. These interactive portals make it easy for customers to find answers before making a purchase and help them troubleshoot any possible issues afterward. Process Polly’s knowledge base is a good example here — it’s well-organized, helpful, and consistent with the overall brand.

Princess Polly Help Center
Source: Princess Polly
  • Self-service flows. Good self-service flows can help you deflect up to a third of all tickets. They’re projected to save companies $11 billion this year. For example, Gorgias’ self-service flows let you create multistep automated responses to customer questions without engaging an agent.

Source: Gorgias

3) Customer service policies and SLAs

Customer service policies and service level agreements (SLAs) are among the first documents new agents should learn.

  • A customer service policy is an internal document containing your customer service team's fundamental guidelines, rules, and standards. It includes steps for handling common workflows (e.g., refund or return requests), ticket prioritization rules, and standards for response and resolution times.
  • An SLA is an external document that defines the expected service level between your business and your customers. SLAs contain information about your support team’s working hours and their expected response and resolution times on different channels.

Without these documents, customer service agents can’t be expected to do their job well. That’s why ensuring they’re detailed, well-written, and included in each agent’s mandatory training is essential.

4) Practical courses and other training materials

All agents need a solid foundation of knowledge before they can start resolving problems quickly and consistently. 

The specific training topics will differ depending on your business. However, most support courses and training should cover:

  • In-depth product knowledge. All agents should be experts in what your business is selling.
  • Policy and process knowledge, like how to handle return requests, when to grant refunds, and what to do when customers ask for an exchange.
  • Customer service tools used in your company, like your helpdesk software, live chat, customer relationship management (CRM) system, and so on.
  • Tone of voice, phrases to avoid, and other brand-related considerations.
  • Technical skills, like following internal escalation rules.

Customer service training program checklist
Source: Gorgias

Become a better customer service manager with specialized training (and Gorgias) 

As you can see, a lot goes into being a good customer service manager. This guide will give you a good foundation for success in your journey, and you can get even more valuable tips in:

  • The CX Unlocked Guidebook by Eli Weiss. Eli is known for his work around customer experience and retention at DTC brands like OLIPOP and Jones Road Beauty. This book will give you his first-hand experience and help you become a better customer service manager.
  • These 19 best customer service certifications. In this article, you’ll find 19 customer service certifications for different use cases, including certifications for helpdesks, leadership, call center service, and more.
  • The support leader’s guide to customer service training. This guide will walk you through the basics of customer service training and show you 15 practical training activities to try with your team.

Finally, Gorgias can be your centralized customer service software that lays the foundation for a successful customer service management strategy. Our software can help your agents prioritize tickets, save time with automation, drive revenue with proactive customer service, and much more. 



Why is customer service management important?

Customer service management (CSM) sets the proper foundation of technologies, techniques, and guidelines for all service agents to do their job well. As a result, good CSM ensures the entire support operation is working toward customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

How can you measure the impact of customer service management?

Many metrics and KPIs can help you measure the impact of customer service, including CSAT and NPS scores. Higher-level metrics like churn and website conversion rates can also be used to gauge the effect of customer service.

What are some common challenges of customer service management?

Common challenges include ticket overload, finding and hiring good agents, and getting buy-in from stakeholders to invest in the customer service operation.

Alexa Hertel
Senior Editor at Gorgias
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Evgeni Yordanov
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Alexa Hertel
Senior Editor at Gorgias
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Evgeni Yordanov
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