Thriving in Positivity
Creating Positive Environment for Customer Service Representatives
Customer Service Agent Dissatisfaction – All Too Common
“I don’t want to do this anymore”
Unfortunately, while many unhappy employees do not always openly voice their dissatisfaction, this can be a common attitude among customer service representatives.
Currently, less than two-thirds of customer agents are happy in their roles and more than a third don’t intend to stay in their jobs, according to a national study done in March 2017.
The study polled 500 active service reps conducted by Aspect Software in partnership with Conversion Research.
Why Customer Service Agents’ Job Satisfaction Matters
“Employees are the most important. When you take care of your employees, they will treat the customers very well, and they will want to fly more with you, which will make the stakeholders happy. Keep your employees happy, and everyone is happy”
– Shep Hyken
When employees love their jobs, their work performance is better. In turn, that makes customers happy. Employee job satisfaction results in more emotional commitment, which, in turn, results in more effort. Effort translates into better efficiency. And that results in better service.
Satisfied customers are more likely to bring return and referral business. And more business means higher profits for the company. Investing in customer service satisfaction, then, is in every company’s best interest.
Are Your CSRs Happy?
So it’s important that customer service representatives remain energized, motivated, and satisfied with their jobs. But how can the management know if the CSRs are happy? Here are two ways to find out.
1. Conducting an Agent Satisfaction survey:
- Survey agents, leads, and managers
- Survey everyone, every quarter
- Have someone outside the support team conduct the survey to evaluate and summarize the data
- Act on survey feedback
2. Evaluating agent performances
- Number of tickets solved per day
- SAT ratings
- Agent touches/updates
- Ticket volumes by channel
- Number of escalations
- Areas of focus
National Business Research Institute: “The importance of the annual employee survey cannot be overstated. Managers today have come to realize that information is power. What employees think is not something to be feared; it is something to be harnessed. Today, employee and customer feedback systems are requirements for ISO 9000 Quality Certification, and no executive wants to run an organization without a firm grasp on the two most important human factors controlling their destiny: the thinking of their employees, and the thinking of their customers.”
Making Customer Service Representatives Happy
1. Establish a Strong Company Culture
- Companies with strong culture have less staff turnover than those who don’t. Weaker culture companies have turnover rate of 48.4%. Companies with strong culture have turnover rate of 13.9% (Hppy)
- In your workplace, your culture is the everyday reality of organizational life: it’s what you do, say, how we behave, how we treat each other, customers, vendors, and ourselves. It’s the overall atmosphere of your office. (Entrepreneur)
- Knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors all play a major role in the establishment of a company’s culture. And if that culture focuses on positivity, strong moral values, energetic atmosphere, your employees will feel happier at work.
Six Steps to Build a Strong Company Culture
1. Define Purpose
“Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.” ~ W. Clement Stone
- “According to a recent Gallup study, 59% of employees do not know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors.” (ClearCompany)
- Purpose-driven work culture ensures the employees are all on the same page when it comes to the question of “Why” you are doing what you’re doing. Humans need a reason to do anything and do it well.
- Communicate clearly, define your company’s impact on the community at large, and encourage meaningful connections.
- All these notions will help you set the direction of your company’s operations.
2. Define Common Language and Values
“Effectiveness without values is a tool without a purpose.”~ Edward de Bono
- A common language assures that all members of the organization understand expectations. Misunderstandings are minimized so time formerly spent on correcting errors can be spent on productivity. When management and staff speak the same language, there is a feeling of camaraderie, and relationships between them are stronger. A common language creates a sense of culture for those working within the organization, which is a major factor in its success. (NBRI)
- Common language will differ from organization to organization, but using specific slang or a way to describe things and activities will help the communication stream.
- Defining a set of values that the whole organization acknowledges in places like the company’s website and on a standard company mission statement is important. It’s even more crucial that these values live and breathe through people, inside and outside of the company.
3. Establish Effective Leadership
“The world is changed by your example not your opinion.” ~ Paul Coelho
- The leader’s mood and behaviors drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else. A cranky and ruthless boss creates a toxic organization filled with negative underachievers who ignore opportunities; an inspirational, inclusive leader spawns acolytes for whom any challenge is surmountable. The final link in the chain is performance: profit or loss.
- Research conducted by Alice Isen at Cornell in 1999, for example, found that an upbeat environment fosters mental efficiency, making people better at taking in and understanding information, at using decision rules in complex judgments, and at being flexible in their thinking. Other research directly links mood and financial performance. (Harvard Business Review)
- When it comes to customer service, when team members have to deal with complaints and negative feedback on a day-to-day basis, the impact of the leader’s response cannot be underestimated. Having the right positive attitude to challenging situations can do wonders in terms of relieving the overall stress and letting avoid the domino effect for the whole team.(Provide Support)
4. Implement Engaging Team Building
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” ~Michael Jordan
Reasons why team building is important in the workplace:
- Facilitates better communication
- Motivates employees
- Promotes creativity
- Develops problem-solving skills
- Breaks the barrier
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw
- Internal communications play a key role in developing a customer-centric company culture. It enables everyone in the company to work towards the ambitious yet extremely important goal of ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Customer Service Representatives absolutely must be informed to successfully assist customers.
- Communication has to be a two-way street so that the CSR feels like the management listens and cares.
- There are three types of internal communication that need to take place to ensure all-around operational success as well as employee satisfaction:
- Top-down communications refer to communications addressed to all employees, whether or not these messages are shared via management.
- Upward communications refer to collaborators sharing information with those in executive and management roles.
- Lateral communication allows different departments and services to communicate amongst themselves, without necessarily needing to first share this information with those in management and executive roles.
6. Treat Agents with Respect
“Respect a man, he will do the more.” ~ James Howell Respect in the Workplace
- Treat people how you’d like to be treated: with kindness, courtesy, and politeness.
- Encourage other coworkers to share their valuable ideas.
- Actively listen to others. Never interrupt or put in your two cents before they’re finished.
- Use other people’s ideas often to increase productivity and efficiency.
- Don’t insult people or talk behind their backs.
- Don’t nitpick, micromanage, criticize or demean others.
- Be aware of your tone, body language, your expression, and your demeanor during all interactions. Some people can detect the slightest hints of what seems like disrespect, even if they aren’t aware of it.
- Treat people the same no matter their race, religion, age, etc. All people you interact with should be treated equally.
- Include all necessary coworkers in meetings, lunches, and after-work activities. Provide an equal opportunity for employees to participate in committees or improvement teams.
- Always praise more than you criticize. In addition, encourage employees to give praise to others where needed.
2. Encouraging Growth
- 78% of employers say they are providing training or development opportunities to help employees learn new skills, although the majority of professionals don’t agree. This points to a clear disconnect between employers and their staff.
- 71% of millennials who are likely to leave an organization within two years are dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed.
- 86% of respondents said they would change jobs if it meant more opportunities for professional development
- If you don’t offer learning and growth opportunities, your employees will take their professional development into their own hands by seeking employers who do. (Forbes)
Four Types of Workplace Growth
Employees are motivated by the possibility of increased income, especially when it’s tied to their performance
- Pay competitive wages
- Add perks, incentives, and good benefits
- Offer financial assessments
- Point to free financial resources
- Suggest monthly budgeting
- Provide personalized support
2. Professional growth
Employees will want to improve in their field
- Mentoring programs
- Online courses
- Tuition reimbursement
- Social Media groups and communities
3. Career growth:
Most driven individuals want to move up in the ranks of their organization
- Some people may be more receptive toward certain positions based on their personalities. It’s important to consider whom you are as an individual when considering a career since you put so much of yourself into that job.
- Using John Holland’s Six Personality Types one can determine which customer service career type is the best fit
4. Personal growth:
With the increasingly blurred line between private and professional lives, it makes sense to encourage employees to pursue their personal goals. (9 Clouds)
- Employers can help employees achieve work-life balance by instituting policies, procedures, actions, and expectations that enable them to pursue more balanced lives, such as: flexible work schedules, paid time off (PTO) policies, responsibly paced time and communication expectations ○ company-sponsored family events and activities (The Balance Careers)
- Benefits Employers Can Consider Offering: exercise access, childcare services, company outings, community engagement opportunities, schedule flexibility, team building activities, and encourage vacations (Pingboard)
3. Communicate: Feedback and Recognition
- Lack of communication contributes to about 80% of workplace issues.
- While giving and receiving feedback can at times be uncomfortable, when embraced and structured, feedback becomes one of the strongest processes in driving success, productivity, and collaboration.
- Ways to give effective and constructive feedback:
○ Make it timely. Don’t wait more than 48 hours after an incident to address it.
○ Feedback is a two-way street for both managers and employees. Allow your employees to communicate with their managers as well.
○ Focus on the goals at hand. Giving vague “personality-based” feedback is not helpful or necessary.
○ Make sure to balance between positive and negative feedback. If you cannot find and positive feedback, it may be time to consider a Performance Improvement Plan.
○ Keep it consistent. Your employees need feedback more than twice a year. Monthly or even biweekly feedback is better.
- Having a CSR recognition program is an effective way to keep up morale.
- Steps to creating a successful employee recognition program:
○ Make sure to applaud the right people
○ Praise tenure, but don’t make it everything
○ Show recognition in a timely fashion
○ Recognition does not have to be monetary
○ Use gamification
○ Enable peer-to-peer recognition
One way of recognizing success is setting goals for agents. Measurable goals can improve company culture and decrease agent turnover in a customer service call center.
4. Provide Necessary Tools
- No matter how talented your customer service team is, giving your agents the right tools is essential.
- While your software arsenal can vary depending on the type of business you run, some tools are universally helpful
- Live Help Now Help Desk Software Suite gives you a variety of features that will ensure quick, efficient, and successful customer service delivery:
○ Live Chat ○ Ticket Management System ○ FAQ Knowledge Base (ADD MORE TOOLS)
Live chat apps can help provide better customer service by improving response times and even help build trust. Providing customers the option to text your business further improve customer service.
- 75% of consumers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is available when they need them. This is where live chat apps can offer an online presence for consumers, even 24 hours a day if needed.
- With more consumers shopping online than ever before, companies must keep pace by providing a mobile-friendly option for customer service.The best live chat apps provide a streamlined mobile customer service solution that can correspond with customers in a simple text message.
Ticket Management System
- Ticket management system is much more than an e-mail organize
- Helpdesk suite integrates with the company’s website and puts all parts of the puzzle in one convenient place. All of the customer service communications – emails, troubleshooting forms, text, social media, and even voice messages.
- A ticket system is better than many other methods of dealing with customer questions or reported issues. It keeps a history log, a status update, any notes, comments, and resolution records, all in one place.
- Key features of a ticket management system:
○ Intelligent inbox
○ Ticket triggers
○ Whisper technology
○ History Log
○ Multi Brand support
- While an FAQ page is very helpful to your customers, it can also be a great tool for your customer service agents.
- If an agent is unsure about an answer, a searchable knowledge base can deliver that answer quickly.
- FAQ database speeds up the training process for new agents
- New information can be updated and available immediately
- Bonus: FAQ database integrated into your website will boost your SEO, which will help search engine visibility and increase traffic to your website
- We’ve discussed professional development and it’s important to note, once again, that agent training is essential to successful customer service
- To keep agents motivated, current, and positive, constant growth through training is the key
- Tools such as agent handbooks that address key issues customer service agent face should always be on hand
- Guides such as a personalization manual can always help enhance customer service representatives’ daily interactions.
5. Provide Positive Physical Environment
- According to a 2011 research study on how workplace design contributes to mental health and well-being, the average person spends 33 percent of their waking time in their workplace on a weekly basis.
- The physical workplace environment has a major impact on everything from happiness and mood to productivity and focus. The study concludes that “good working conditions enable employees to work effectively” and that “investments in the physical workplace that create those conditions pay back quickly.” (Psychcentral)
- According to the UK Warwick University’s recent study, happiness has made people around 12% more productive, so making yourself happier at work is not just good for you, it’s good for your company.
Four Ways to create a joyful environment in the workplace (as suggested by author and designer Ingrid Fetell Lee in Joyful):
- Add color “Color is energy made visible. It activates an ancient circuit that lights up with pleasure at the idea of finding something sweet to eat.” Bright colors tell our brains that our environment is rich and sustainable. Color energizes, lifts spirits, improves mood, and serves as an instant source of joy.
- Bring in the light “The joy we find in a sunlit room is matched by tangible measures of well-being.” You can instantly light up your space with natural light. Sunlight is best, she says, but when it isn’t available broad-spectrum light can provide similar benefits.
- Embrace nature “…Spending time in nature decreases blood flow to a part of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with the tendency to brood over problems,” Fetell says. “Natural settings literally make us more carefree.” Stepping outside if possible, adding live plants to decor, and using sounds of nature in the office can lead to happier moods and less stress for customer service agents.
- Add transcendence “According to research, light, elevating experiences and images give us glimpses of transcendence. All of these are vital in giving our lives meaning and purpose.” Accentuating open spaces with tall plants and vertical line designs is one way to do so. Gradient color schemes that mimic the sky, photographs, and paintings of open landscapes and pictures of hot air balloons all have been shown to bring joy to people.
5. Add Value to Work
- Adding value to work increases engagement. After all, if employees are doing a meaningless task, why would they want to put any effort into their daily work?
- Making employees feel valued and their work meaningful will increase their willingness to put in more effort.
- 74% of millennials want a job where their work feels meaningful.
- The number one predictor of finding meaning in our jobs is the belief that what we do positively impacts others.(Michelle McQuaid)
Ways to add value to a customer service agent’s work:
- Show how work makes a difference: stories of happy customers, resulting in additional business, and positive reviews (Michelle McQuaid)
- Pay personalized attention to an agent’s work. Offer specific feedback and recognition.
- Trust in an agent’s abilities by allowing personal troubleshooting and project initiative. Let the agents come up with their own strategies for customer service growth and improvement. Do not micromanage.
- Create new opportunities. Doing the same work the same way might become mundane. Allow room for advancement and improvement. Growth is essential for happiness.
- Workers are far more motivated by a culture of thanks and recognition than they are by cash
- Employee appreciation ideas:
- Thank you notes
- Peer recognition
- Asking employees what they want
- Notify top executives of a job well done
- Give to charity employees choose
- Celebrate milestone
- Provide perks