Motivating Customer Service People to Retain Top Customer Service Talent


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One of the plagues of customer service is that companies have high turnover rates leading to loss of productivity, efficiency, and lower customer satisfaction.

Many organizations in their attempt to generate the best from their people resort to intense pressure and coercion to create customer service results. This is a temporary solution with drastic, negative long-term effects to your customer service team. Strict customer service metrics, service efficiency rates, timelines, difficult work schedules, and scrutinizing over numbers at the expense of quality only works for so long.

High customer service management pressure leads to high call center turnover rates

Pressure and coercion don’t work for long. Eventually, your people will get fed up. When they do, get ready for your turnover rates to sky rocket.

So how can you motivate the best customer service people to deliver consistent, efficient service experiences and retain top customer service talent?

The big problem with customer service motivation

You should be happy you have a job.

The big problem with motivating customer service today is that too many managers and executives have adopted a “you’re luck you’re here” mentality. Too many are thinking that their customer service people are interchangeable cogs and that each employee’s position has an infinite line of candidates just foaming at the mouth to take their place. Given the economy and unemployment numbers this mentality may hold true if you’re just looking to put a warm body in customer service, but not if you’re looking to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Working from a place of obligation and routine for a paycheck is not natural. Working for joy, innovation and autonomy is.

-Gina Rudan, author of Practical Genius

Exceptional doesn’t just happen. It takes talent, skill, and individuals with the right mentality.

Inspirational customer service management keep top service talent

The most successful customer service leaders ignite, inspire, and motivate. They don’t pressure. The key is to lead people forward, not push them ahead.

Customer service motivation may come from:

  • a basic impulse to optimize well-being
  • minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure
  • meet physical or emotional needs

So what currently motivates your customer service team members?

  • Money (for safety/security/shelter/health)
  • Relationships (sense of belonging/friendship/team work)
  • Self-esteem/Recognition
  • Self-actualization/Achievement

Driving exceptional customer service performance

Controlling managers often get quick results and performance gains with pressure and coercion. But it’s a flash in the pan. Eventually you have to pay the dues. And the price you pay in terms of long term talent retainment, internal culture, and employee engagement is STEEP. Sure, you’ll keep the the average performers, but then again, they don’t have many places to go. But the top performers are the stars in your customer service team. They are the ones consistently generating the type of customer experiences that convert customers and keep them loyal and you will lose these power customer service people if you keep the pressure on too long.

High pressure customer service managers may feel important, they may feel like they have a finger on the pulse of things, but it’s extremely frustrating for their customer service teams. Don’t kid yourself, if you are this type of leader, your people are looking for jobs right now. Many even while they are at work.

5 ways to motivate great customer service performances

  1. Realize that motivation is not dependent on your, it’s up to the individual
  2. Enable people, empower individuals, encourage taking action
  3. Train more, coach more, give more
  4. Remove obstacles, headaches, red tape, bureaucracy
  5. Connect people and build up relationships

This mixture are the ingredients to the type of environment that creates the type of motivation that keeps top customer service talent engaged and excited to continue delivering exceptional customer service experiences.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Flavio Martins
Flavio Martins is the VP of Operations and Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise authentication services and high-assurance SSL certificates trusted by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations. Flavio is an award-winning customer service blogger, customer service fanatic, and on a mission to show that organizations can use customer experience as a competitive advantage win customer loyalty. Blog: Win the Customer!


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