When managers try to improve their customer service department, they often focus on improving things like scripts, contact options, and employee knowledge. All these investments can help, but they pale in comparison to a deceptively simple improvement that can benefit your outcomes across the board: keeping your customer service agents happy.
Why Happy Customer Service Agents Are Better
Customer service is a rough gig. Dealing with unhappy customers all day, going through repetitive scripts and processes, and on top of everything else, getting a relatively low wage can be disheartening. There are ways to make the job better, and improve the attitudes and moods of everyone on your staff, but before we get into those, let’s review why it’s important to keep your customer service agents happy in the first place:
- Disposition and tone. Happy agents are more likely to have a naturally sincere, polite, and enthusiastic tone in their conversations. You can generally tell when someone is faking their politeness; organically satisfied employees will have a brighter, more welcoming tone.
- Investment in customer outcomes. Apathetic employees aren’t likely to go out of their way to help your customers. In fact, some might spend their time pretending to be busy to keep supervisors off their back. Higher morale means more invested employees who are willing to work hard to keep your customers happy.
- Retention and costs. Don’t forget the cost it takes to hire and train a new employee. If your employees are happy, they’ll stick with you longer, and you’ll avoid those costs—which amount to 16 percent of your agent’s annual salary.
- Group morale. Remember, attitudes are contagious. If you have a handful of employees who come into work with a good attitude and a satisfied disposition, that’s likely to spread to your other employees as well. This results in a happier, more productive workplace all around.
How to Improve Agent Satisfaction
So what can you do to improve morale?
- Improve your systems and technology. Spend some time auditing and upgrading the systems you use, including your hardware, software, scripts, and ongoing processes to follow. If there are chronic inefficiencies or frustrations here, your employees may dread coming to work. Switching to a more efficient platform or changing up an annoying script can instantly boost morale. If your team uses Gmail or G suite, try using one or more Gmail plugins to improve productivity and ease of use.
- Know how and when to give feedback. Your employees need feedback if they’re going to learn and grow, but you need to know how and when to give that feedback. One of the simplest things you can do is give good feedback and praise in public (where other people can see, and in a way that makes your targeted employee feel good), and bad feedback and criticism in private (where employee privacy is respected and the overall atmosphere is maintained).
- Add variety to the job. Monotony and tedium can make an otherwise great job horrible. You can prevent this from setting in by adding more variety to the job. Consider giving your customer service agents a more diverse set of responsibilities, or give them multiple options for dealing with people, such as different scripts, or different modes of communication.
- Set team goals, and reward their achievement. Get people to work together and feel like they’re a part of a team by setting group-based goals. If your team manages to achieve some of these goals, reward them by throwing a group event, or doling out individual rewards.
- Offer support for difficult tasks and days. Inevitably, your team will hit some hard times, like a particularly difficult customer or a day where everything seems to be going wrong. Make sure they have support to get through these times.
- Ask for feedback and requests. If you want to know more ways to improve morale, why not ask your employees directly? Getting feedback from your employees about their feelings on the job (and any recommendations they may have) is a great way to discover new incentives and opportunities.
- Offer a path for development. People don’t want to stay in the same position forever. Give your agents a path for development, whether it’s a new opportunity for promotion, a raise or bonus, or the chance to learn new skills on the job.
You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money or invest much time or resources to improve morale within your customer service department. Sometimes, a simple change to your brand, your environment, and your daily conversations is enough to radically improve both employee morale and customer outcomes.