We all know that pleasing your customers is top priority for the ongoing success of your business. But, who is responsible for sprinkling this fairy dust of customer satisfaction? Even a magic wand requires someone to wield it. The answer? Your employees. They are the sorcerers and sorceresses interfacing with your clients every day, and to work their magic they need the right tools. It’s in your best interest to make sure they’re equipped to cast the right spell for success.
Although there are many new technologies (CRMs, call monitoring, etc.) to help understand and meet your customers’ needs, no automated technology can replace the element of human interaction. Your human employees, particularly those in your call center, are your most valuable asset, and your most important investment. Research shows that the complexity and frequency of customer demands is increasing with the pace of our times. Employees report feeling ill-equipped and overwhelmed to meet the expectations of customers and you, their employer. The result is burnout. This fatigue can translate to your customer experience. Over 80% of customers have stopped doing business with companies because of poor customer experience. You must view your employees like you would a star athlete. They need to be able to stay strong, in the game, properly rested, rewarded, and ready to rock.
Take time to listen to your employees’ needs. What gives them headaches? Where are they limited in their resources in order to do their best? Do they feel opportunity for growth? Are they invested in the brand? Your employees are likely inundated with a continuous flow of customer interactions, both positive and challenging. Without a sense of work/life balance, and a reward on the other side, you run the risk not only of customer dissatisfaction, but also employee attrition. Consider ways to make your work environment more flexible. Impart an empowering sense of trust in your employees by hearing their processes, triumphs and struggles. Then, implement solutions that put them first, and notice the difference in employee performance.
How best to measure performance? The criteria for call center agents has historically been based on average call handle time or first call resolution, but such standardized metrics can encourage haste and remove the element of humanity. No one enjoys feeling like they’re being hurried off the phone or read to from a rigid script. Focus more on the desired behaviors you’d like to cultivate. Equip your agents with the right data to adequately handle customer needs. Take time to train them, role play, and team build. Then, track agent behavior, customer data, and call outcomes to learn what’s working to provide employees with personalized feedback. If an agent is experiencing high levels of success in solving customer problems, note the resources that made that happen, how that agent approached the issues, and incorporate those techniques into training other employees.
Even with all of the “self-service” communication channels, call volume is increasing. This may indicate that self-service isn’t adequately meeting customer needs. The result is more interaction between your customers and your call center. Many agents don’t believe they can meet customer demands, particularly with advanced technology such as artificial intelligence and voice integration changing the game so drastically. Contact centers risk falling even further behind this tech curve. Yes, supply your team with the best possible tools and technology, but view them as high-level, customer experience specialists, and train them as such. The human touch is a curve no robot possesses.
So, take a people-first approach. Strengthen and inspire your employees, see that their needs are met, and together you’ll sprinkle some customer service magic into the success of your business. Bibbity, bobbity boo.