As 2020 winds down, it’s tempting to take a deep breath of gratitude. You made it! 2020 was a rough year for every single one of us—between the political madness and the global pandemic, we’re lucky any of us made it to the finish line.
But as the leader of a customer service team, you know there’s a new year waiting right around the corner. After all, customer service work is never done! Creating goals for your 2021 customer service efforts is essential to make sure you start Q1 off on the right foot, keep your team motivated, and continue to bring in revenue for your business.
Setting new goals can feel exciting and fresh—a way to put the troubles of 2020 behind us as we step into the future. But goal-setting is easier said than done. You may have made goals in the past that you didn’t come anywhere close to achieving, leaving you with a sense of failure. Or, you may have made goals that you abandoned midway through the year because they no longer served your needs. You may have spent valuable work hours crafting goals only to see them go nowhere. Life can make goal-setting seem like an impossible, pointless task.
Here are some steps for setting customer service goals in 2021 that will actually work for your company and help your team succeed.
Look Back at 2020
Before you look forward, it can be incredibly helpful to look backward. Obviously, 2020 wasn’t a normal year for anyone in terms of business. But there were probably some things that worked and some things that didn’t. Maybe you found a lot of momentum with a new voice recording software that helped you analyze customer calls more quickly. Maybe social media got completely out of hand and you’ve found yourself wanting to ditch Twitter. Maybe you had a lot of turnover within your team and you need to attract new talent.
By breaking down the year into categories of working, sort of working, and not working, you can really start to identify areas for growth. This is helpful for getting started—otherwise, you’re kind of just staring at a large amount of data with no direction. By reflecting, you’re also able to look at facts instead of simply going off of emotion (i.e., “I’m tired of e-mails, so our goal should be to have less e-mail interaction with customers). Make sure to give this step adequate time, and take in feedback from all levels of your customer service team. They may be able to offer valuable insight you haven’t thought of.
Come Up with a Big-Picture ‘Why’
Behind all of your goals is going to be one larger, more impactful goal. As a customer service team, this is surely to “serve the customer.” But what does it mean in your specific industry—and your specific business? Coming up with some kind of mission statement, or resurrecting one you made in the past, and keeping it front of mind will help make sure all of your goals are truly pointed toward a greater mission.
For example, if you work for a business-to-business software company, your big-picture “why” isn’t just to serve the customer. It may be something like to help other businesses thrive in order to grow the economy or to help more entrepreneurs make money doing what they love. By narrowing down why exactly it is you’re speaking to customers and helping them with their problems, you’ll give your team an entirely new motivation, one that is more mission-based vs. numbers-oriented. Then, with every goal you consider making, it’s easy to question whether it will help you get to that larger why. Put this big-picture goal somewhere employees can see it every single day.
One huge reason so many efforts at goal-setting fail? People fail to be specific. Serving our customers better isn’t a goal. It’s a talking point or an idea but not something you’ll know you’ve achieved. Good goals should always be SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time motivating your team. If there’s no way for team members to track their progress or realize a goal has been reached, you’ll see motivation dip very quickly. You also won’t be able to tell if you’re getting any closer to your big-picture “why.” Making your goals as specific as possible will help ensure you achieve them.
Lastly, it’s important to stay flexible. Now, you don’t want to change your goals every day—they should have some sense of purpose to them. But the truth is, we don’t know what the world is going to look like in 2021. We may have a vaccine for this pandemic, or we may not. We don’t know how political power will shake out. And we don’t know how our customers are going to react to those things.
But even in calmer times, it’s important to set aside time each quarter to reevaluate your goals. Why? Because things change! Maybe your company has a new CEO who wants to take things in a different direction or you just hired a new employee who’s really passionate about a new social media platform and wants to try it out. You don’t want to let your preset goals become the enemy of your potential.
Furthermore, some of your goals may be new ideas you’re trying out that don’t necessarily work as well as you hoped, and instead of continuing to push in on a new strategy for the last 6 months of the year, it may simply make more sense to change that particular goal. By evaluating your goals every quarter and making sure they still align with your big-picture “why,” you’ll keep morale high and end the year well.