There is no place in the world I’d rather work than in Customer Service.
That being said...it’s very, well, hard. There are days when it seems like
every problem across the business rolls directly downhill to us. On a good
day, we are working to resolve customer inquiries as quickly and
effectively as we can. On a bad day, we are just trying to survive! The
pressure of this reality can accumulate very quickly. It’s no surprise that
the average turnover rate in a contact center environment is 25 percent
year over year. While many factors are outside of our control, there are
plenty of essential aspects of the work experience that we do hold sway
over. Chief among these is our power to create a supportive and edifying
dynamic among our teams.
supports the notion that having “great colleagues and peers” is the number
one reason people love their jobs. Gallup also proclaims the power of
strong peer-to-peer relationships when it comes to employee loyalty. Many
of us as leaders spend a great deal of time and energy cultivating
relationships with our staff. This is wonderful and important. However, we
cannot overlook the importance of developing meaningful relationships
beyond ourselves and across peer groups. Just like in school, the teacher
can have great influence over a learner, but not near as much as the
cumulative impact of the other students.
I can personally testify to the power of having a team who sincerely cares
for one another. Consider all the classic contact center
problems--adherence to schedule, failure to share knowledge, snippy
attitudes, and burnout. When agents consider it their own responsibility to
mitigate these factors for themselves and their peers, magic happens. It’s
superior to even perfect processes or perfect technologies! Your team has
the capacity to adapt seamlessly and to meet any new challenge in
real-time. So how does one develop a team culture such as this? Naturally,
it begins with being very picky about your new hires. It’s your job to
guard your team tenaciously from energy vampires that will suck the life of
your group. When there are selfish people who are not interested in serving
others, it’s impossible to generate trust in the group. Removing these
barriers is the first essential step. Once complete, a leader can gently
guide the team toward a new level of collaboration and caring. Here are
four ideas to get you started!
It’s easy to forget your co-workers are just people. Especially in a
high-stress or competitive environment, destructive tensions have a
tendency to build up so quickly. It’s important to break up this dynamic on
a regular basis and put the humanity back into everyday work. One really
fun way to accomplish this is by allowing folks to “walk a mile” in one
another’s shoes. Buy a GoPro for your team and loan it out to everyone for
one week. Have them create a simple and short documentary-style video about
their life at home that can be released in a Friday meeting. Just small
things such as “here’s my wife, here’s my dog, here is my favorite bowling
ball, this is where I sit when I work from home” is sure to make everyone
smile and accelerate authentic relationships. This works especially well
for teams with remote workers because everyone gets the same great
experience regardless of geography. Encourage participation in two ways.
First, do it yourself to get it rolling and take away the
intimidation/vulnerability factor. Second, do a drawing of everyone that
participated and have a team member actually win the GoPro to take home!
One fantastic way to develop an edifying atmosphere on your team comes from
the medical field. Nurses in many hospitals have the ability to initiate a
.” This simply means they have navigated a difficult situation and could
benefit from emotional support. What better place to utilize this strategy
than the contact center? We already use codes for everything, even going to
the bathroom. Create a quick and quiet method for employees to express when
they could use encouragement after a difficult interaction. Not only is the
individual who initiates supported, but it will bring the entire team
Join Nate this May 13-16 at ICMI Contact Center Expo! He'll be speaking in 3 sessions and hosting the ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Party.
The best and strongest teams offer a meaningful sense of identity.
Together, you are accomplishing something amazing that no one could do
alone. By applying greater purpose, the day to day frustrations that
typically plague contact centers fade into the background. When work feels
meaningless, hopeless, tedious, or fruitless...people will often devolve
toward a “do the absolute bare minimum and get out of here” mentality. The
best companies connect their employees to each other and to their community
in a unique way. Don’t just offer volunteer hours. Lead the charge on
serving together as a team by doing something relevant to your companies
mission. Bonus points if you can create a service event that brings you
together with your local customers!
I work inside a software company. What to know the topic of our
highest-attended and most successful training event of 2018? Photography.
That’s right. We offered an hour and a half “Photography 101” lunch and
learn. Employees loved it. They learned a valuable life skill, shared cute
pictures of their kids, and got to take their minds off work for a bit
while developing new friendships. Of course, not all your training sessions
should look like this, but why not do a “special” training event once a
quarter on a topic that is sure to get folks excited?
These are but a few ways to develop a culture of caring. While it takes a
great deal of time and intentionally to establish, it will become the
trademark of your team and the number one reason great employees stay.
Don’t hesitate to use me as a resource if I can help you brainstorm on new
ideas that will be most effective for your group. Until then, may you bask
in the light of perfect CSAT scores. 😁
Nate Brown is the cofounder of CX Accelerator. While customer service is his primary expertise, Nate is able to leverage experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect the dots and solve the big problems. From authoring and leading a customer experience program, to journey mapping, to managing a complex contact center, Nate is always learning new things and sharing with the CX community. Follow him on Twitter @CustomerIsFirst or LinkedIn.
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