It is simply inevitable. Some days you will stride into work with your head held high, armed with a cup of your favorite coffee and enthusiasm for the day ahead. On other days, it will take all your energy to just stay focused on the tasks at hand. Similarly, keeping one’s employees motivated, especially those who work in customer support roles, requires some planning. Successful managers utilize a combination of customer service training programs, a basic understanding of human psychology and an element of fun to keep their staff members focused.
BUILDING EFFECTIVE CUSTOMER SERVICE TEAMS, STEP-BY-STEP
FEELING RIGHT AT HOME
What can a manager do to keep their employees happily engaged at work? They can begin by providing a safe, comfortable work environment for all of their customer support staff. Maintain optimum working conditions in the office by:
❏ Allowing for plenty of natural light into the workspace through windows and skylights.
❏ Investing in reliable janitorial services for maximum cleanliness and hygiene in the office.
❏ Enlisting an efficient administrator to keep the office in working order – from the central air conditioning to printer maintenance.
❏ Bringing in some greenery, in the form of potted plants and living walls, to both liven up the workspace and function as a natural air filtration system.
❏ Dedicating a small dining area or breakroom where employees can grab some coffee and catch up.
MISSION: EMPLOYEE-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE
With the physical environment all sorted, next up on the conscientious manager’s tasklist is the setup and maintenance of a friendly yet productive office culture. A truly empowering workplace will consist of:
❏ A leader, with a focus on inclusion and collaboration, who establishes an ‘open-door’ policy for all of their team members.
❏ Team members who feel comfortable with approaching their manager with concerns, questions, or suggestions.
❏ A mix of individuals who prioritize affording each other respect, regardless of one’s rank or designation in the organization.
❏ Supervisors who offer timely, constructive feedback to their customer service staff in efforts to build trust and rapport.
❏ A manager who understands the value of ownership, from fielding difficult questions asked by team members to taking a stand for their team in front of a board, and its contribution to an employee-friendly workplace.
Establishing Human Resource Practices That Work
As a manager, you are well aware that the business’s health depends on the competency and loyalty of it’s team. An organization with frequently occuring turnover will see a negative effect on employee morale. It is impossible to keep employees engaged if they feel undervalued, ignored or inadequately compensated by their bosses. Research indicates that up to 40% of new employees will leave within the first year if they do not receive relevant on-the-job training.
Workers appreciate being recognized for their dedication and attention-to-detail, so it falls upon the management to reward them. Activate further employee engagement in the Customer Service department by:
❏ Offering rewards for repeated excellence on key tasks.
❏ Dropping off a brief note of appreciation for a well-handled customer interaction.
❏ Recognizing customer service agents who put in extra effort or volunteer to cover the lines after their shift.
❏ Setting up a monthly reward for ‘Agent of the Month’ based on their on-the-job performance.
Working with the Human Resources team, customer service managers can both safeguard the interests of their agents and strengthen employee retention before it’s too late.
Going for the Gold: Seeking Excellence by Training
Nothing says ‘I believe in you’ like investing in customer service training games and workshops for your customer support staff. Professionals respond well to learning and development opportunities, especially when they consist of ‘out-of-the-box’, experiential learning sessions.
No matter how great the work environment is at your organization, it needs to be matched with smart hiring decisions. As a manager, you must be able to hire and train customer service agents who are open to feedback and self-improvement. Make sure you carry out detailed interviews and complete the paperwork. A new hire can either boost the performance of the entire team or drag it down – so hire with caution.