Effective contact centre agents must be supported by a corporate culture that empowers them to succeed.
How much impact does your internal culture have on customer service?
As it turns it, it’s a lot. A strong internal culture can improve employee morale, increase customer service level, and create a better customer experience overall. Data collected via HuffingtonPost showed that 66 percent of customers who switched brands did so because of poor service, with 85 percent of poor customer service churn being preventable.
Creating a culture of success means applying the same courtesy and positivity to your own staff as you do to your callers. Keep the following strategies in mind as you review your own contact centre’s culture.
1. Start with Empathy
A culture of success that appeals to both employees and customers starts with empathy. This is a cornerstone of quality customer service—all contact centre staff must genuinely care about those they help. Agents that demonstrate to callers that they’re invested in the problem can curb customer frustration and lead to a better overall service level. If they know you care, they’ll be much more likely to give you the time your agents need to problem solve.
2. Avoid the Gossip
Inter-office gossip, customer bashing, and complaining about management should be discouraged in successful corporate cultures. It’s easy to get frustrated and lose your cool in a fast-paced contact centre, but disparaging your callers or fellow employees can ruin the good vibes in short order. Managers should work to keep things light and friendly whenever possible; letting workers fall into routines of negativity will slowly sap morale and lower the quality of your service.
3. Metrics Are Not King
In an industry focused on optimizing protocols, gathering metrics for analysis, and shaving precious seconds off of each call, it can be easy for your agents to feel overwhelmed. Metrics and data have their place in the contact centre, but be careful about overburdening your agents with information.
Remember, the goal of the contact centre is to prioritize first-rate service, with speed and efficiency coming after. Don’t bog your agents down with volumes of performance numbers that make them lose the forest for the trees—focus on qualitative feedback over dry statistics. One on one coaching is essential here. Focus on constructive feedback that guides agent improvement rather than simply marking down where they fell short.
4. View Agents as Partners
Even though someone has to be in charge, the agent workforce of a contact centre is no less important than the management behind it. Every individual working in the contact centre has a shared goal of providing exceptional service, and contact centre practices should reflect this. In a successful corporate culture, management and agents work together during performance reviews and problem solving. Managers should elicit the opinions of their staff when possible and keep an open mind with new ideas.
5. Agent-Centric Policies
If keeping a team of happy and engaged agents is your goal, your contact centre’s policies must give them a hand. This is a critical aspect of your internal culture—employees must feel comfortable working within the constraints of your business. Do your employees lose their lunch break if they get stuck helping a difficult customer before clocking out? Are agents docked for not handling calls fast enough? Don’t leave your employees in the lurch. Empower them to succeed with flexible policies, particularly when they’re going the extra mile for the customer.
6. Put on Your Coaching Cap
The employer/employee relationship is a lot of give and take. Sure, your employees are getting paid for their work, but if that’s all they’re taking away from their time at your contact centre, then you’re failing in your job as a manager. Successful work cultures aren’t a clock in/clock out enterprise; your employees should be gaining valuable skills and experience to support them as they grow.
Take a hands-on approach to your agent training. Guide them over time with small adjustments and constructive comments. Small hinges swing big doors, and a little coaching each day can result in a staff of adaptable agents faster than you think.
Everything and More
Better customer service is a never-ending goal. Managers must do everything they can to empower agents for success, both with direct feedback and building a positive company environment. Coach agents to listen, to be empathetic with customers, and to cooperate with other agents when necessary. A team built on continuous improvement that is supported by a company culture of success can achieve tremendous growth in the customer service world.