In some respects, customer service is cut and dry. If a customer has a question, you answer it. If a customer has a problem, you attempt to resolve it. The process is so straightforward that most companies have a script or a branching algorithm for representatives to follow, which can be used for almost every customer interaction.
But there’s another, less objectively measurable component to successful customer service: the attitudes and motivations of your staff members.
Why Investment Is So Important
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Your employees need to be genuinely invested in your customer satisfaction. Even adhering to the script, to the letter, may not be enough to overcome an employee who’s apathetic toward (or worse, antagonistic toward) your customers.
The difference is apparent in multiple dimensions:
- Tone and delivery. An employee who’s genuinely in line with the brand vision and cares about their customers is going to have a warmer, more sincere, more personal tone than someone who doesn’t care. The tone and delivery of your script matters just as much—if not more than the wording of your script itself.
- Brand image. Your employees are more than just automatons doing repetitive task work; they’re active ambassadors for your brand. A perceived lack of interest in a customer service rep may be interpreted as a lack of interest from the company overall, and over time, that can chip away at your brand’s reputation.
- Deviations from scripts. A customer who truly cares about the customer’s experience will understand when it’s appropriate to deviate from script, and be willing to do so. A non-invested employee will do what they’re told, to the letter, for better or for worse.
- The extra mile. Invested employees don’t mind going the “extra mile” for a customer. They’ll spend extra time to correct a complaint, or will do some extra digging to give the correct answer to a question. Ultimately, that means more satisfied customers—and a more memorable experience for them to share with their contacts.
How to Tell If Your Employees Are Invested
So how can you tell for sure if your employees are genuinely invested or not?
- Communication monitoring. Your first job is to start monitoring your employee communications, by recording their phone calls and using email monitoring to record email-related data. Even a small sample size, reviewed on a weekly or monthly basis, should be enough to clue you in to who on your team has a genuine concern for your customers.
- Customer surveys. At the end of every customer service interaction, you should give your customers a satisfaction survey. Here, they’ll be able to anonymously describe their overall experience, tied to the representatives who gave it to them. It won’t take long to realize if there’s a problem with your staff—and with whom it exists.
- One-on-one conversations. You can also gauge employee opinions and enthusiasm by having one-on-one conversations with them. Do they seem like they want to work here? How do they talk about customers once they’re off the phone?
What to Do If Your Employees Are Apathetic
So what should you do if one or more of your team members are suffering from low investment?
- Revitalize your brand. If you want your employees to care about your customers, you have to care about them. If your brand doesn’t make people feel proud and excited to be a part of the team, something’s wrong on a conceptual level. Spend some time revitalizing your brand, and work with the team to help them feel more pride in their work.
- Focus on leadership. The attitude of a leader is contagious—regardless of whether that attitude is positive, negative, or somewhere in between. A leader who cares about their job, and comes to work with an enthusiastic smile will breed happier, more invested employees, so focus on improving your leaders’ attitudes.
- Reward the outliers. Take some time to recognize your most invested, motivated employees. Call them out in front of the group and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.
- Cut the inflexible. If, after one-on-one conversations and ample opportunities to change, you have workers who still aren’t invested in customer outcomes, you may have to let them go in favor of others.
Employees who aren’t invested in customer outcomes can ruin an otherwise effective customer service strategy. Fortunately, they’re a straightforward problem to fix, given the time and commitment to do so. More invested employees means better customer service—and for reasons that extend beyond what a simple script or procedure can offer.