Focus on the human element to inspire your employees
By Jonathan Gale
As January rolls around again, it’s time to reflect on the highs and lows of the last 12 months and plan for the year ahead.
Whatever happened in 2014, think of 2015 as a clean slate—a new, shiny, fresh-out-of-the-box year, which you can make your own. Here are 10 customer service tips to ensure that you—and your customers—have a happy new year.
1. Aim to inspire.
You don’t have to be Superman to inspire; you just need to make your staff feel valued and demonstrate that you appreciate the value of their work.
Unsurprisingly, most workers aren’t motivated by the thought of the company’s shareholders making more money, so simply showing your team an upward profit margin on a graph is hardly inspirational.
Instead, consider the value of what you give your customers. Whether it’s that the product or service your company sells has had a real impact on their life or just that your excellent service has made their day, it’s the human element that is really going to motivate your workforce.
2. Ensure goals are attainable.
You could set 20 goals for your team this year, but if only a few of them are realistic, you’ll create a demoralizing work environment.
Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows how to strike the right balance. The study, conducted by a team at Florida State University, demonstrates that setting a goal that is a range, rather than a specific number, has a huge impact on whether the goal is met.
The research looked at weight loss groups, and found that asking people to lose between one and three pounds per week was more effective than asking them to lose two pounds.
This works because the range makes the goal seem more attainable, but the option of achieving more adds an element of challenge. The same principle can easily be applied to call center targets.
3. Find the right bottom line.
Along with employee- or team-specific goals, you need to establish a customer service ethos that acts as a bottom line for what’s expected from your team.
This should not be result-oriented, but rather relationship-oriented. For instance, this could be trying to say something in each call to make the customer smile or laugh or just calling the customer by name.
4. Manage customer expectations.
Customer service is all about expectations. Whether customers are new or returning, it’s likely they will have an impression in mind about the service they will receive. It’s the job of your agents to ensure their expectations are met—and preferably raised.
This is where a good service-level agreement comes in, along with the proper training for your staff so that they know exactly what’s expected of them. This then has to be communicated to your customers, ideally before they even pick up the phone.
5. Align customer service with other business units.
Get out of the mind-set that customer service is a solitary branch of the business, disconnected from marketing, sales, and business development.
Instead, make it your New Year’s resolution to collaborate more with other areas of the business. Customer service can play a huge role in showing where the business is going wrong and where it’s going right.
6. Ensure you have the right mind-set.
It’s easy to slip into the wrong mind-set at work. One trap contact center managers often fall into is thinking of their customer service team as the defense team, in place to fight off angry hordes of customers.
This is particularly true if you’re constantly striving to meet efficiency goals and begin to see unhappy customers as “getting in the way.”
If you’ve felt that your team was leaning that way toward the end of the year, you now have a chance to start fresh. Remind them that it’s not a case of customer versus agent; both agent and customer should want the same thing.
7. Review the metrics you use to measure success.
Contact center managers can often spend months tracking particular metrics, without considering whether what they are measuring is really having a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
One example of this is average handle time. If you put too much emphasis on chasing a low score, it can result in agents slamming the phone down after every call to ensure their personal stats stay low.
This often doesn’t correlate with a rise in customer satisfaction.
8. Consider the training your agents need to tackle the challenges they may face in the new year.
When you review the past year, it’s important to look for areas of weakness, both as a company and as individuals, so that you can plan a training program for the next year.
9. Don’t neglect individual goals.
Your team is made up of individuals, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you can take the time to understand what each person needs to develop, you can help to motivate them.
10. Say “thank you.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the simplest tip of all when it comes to both customer service and management—saying “thank you.”
Look back over the last year. How often did you thank your employees? It’s probably less often than you remember. But saying “thank you” is one of the most important aspects of people management. It helps your team to feel motivated, equipping them with the positivity to handle customer complaints or tough calls in the best way.
It’s also essential to make sure these two words are in your agents’ vocabulary. Just as they need to feel appreciated, your customers do too.
While the nitty-gritty of goals is up to individual contact centers, as long as you focus on motivating staff, providing a clear focus, and setting relationship-oriented goals, there’s no reason you can’t deliver excellent service, call after call. How are you planning to boost customer satisfaction this year?
Article Source “-10 Customer Service Tips for 2015 – CRM Magazine