Friday, October 20, 2017

Three Ways to Motivate Disengaged Customer Service Representatives

Did you know that 70 percent of customer service representatives will quit their jobs within the year? Yikes. Not only is turnover expensive, but it's discouraging for the teammates who do stick around.

Companies around the U.S. are recognizing this and adjusting the structure of their organizations to keep their employees motivated. Southwest Airlines is a great example. Southwest says the secret to making employees feel appreciated and motivated is this:

"In our 'order of importance', we put our employees first, then our customers, then our shareholders...and in turn that results in increased business and profits that make everyone happy."

Disengaged businesswoman speaking on phone
Pretty bold statement, right? But the numbers don't lie. Southwest has posted positive net income for the last 44 years, with record profitability in 2015 and 2016. Southwest teaches us all that putting employees first positively affects their attitudes and reduces turnover. Want to follow Southwest's footsteps? Try these three steps to increase employee drive.

Re-evaluate Your Mission and Values

Are your company's mission statement and values in line with the service your agents provide?
If not, it could be that they aren't familiar with your company's values. That might sound crazy, but only 39 percent of employees are aware of their company's mission statement. Of those that do know it, 57 percent aren't motivated by it.

Take a look at your mission and values and make sure they set clear expectations for the type of experience you expect your customer service agents to provide. Getting your employees more involved with carrying out your mission statement will help build employee morale and make them more passionate about being good customer service agents.

Introduce New Incentives

How do you incentivize your customer service agents? Are employees who do the bare minimum treated the same as employees who go above and beyond? The best way to show your top performers you appreciate them is to reward hard work. Consider implementing an employee recognition program that includes some or all of the following types of incentives:
  • Compensation — Offer raises, bonuses or prizes.
  • Recognition — Thank your employees. If they're the type of person that's motivated by public recognition, praise their hard work in front of the rest of the team.
  • Special Events — Have an ice cream social, buy a cake for the department or take top performers to a sporting event.
Whether you award the employee with the most outbound calls or the one who had the best survey results, any of these methods will help your agents feel like their work matters. Experiment with incentives to see what motivates employees most.

Empower Your Employees With the Right Technology

Chase R. on the phone. Literally.
Chase R. on the phone. Literally.
Do your employees have the tools they need to succeed? Listen to their needs to see how you can help make them more successful and productive at their jobs. As an example, say you have an agent — we'll call him Chase R. — who has a hard time handling challenging phone calls with upset customers.

As you talk to Chase R., you realize he gets flustered switching between the call management application and CRM to get a complete picture of the customer's interaction history. While he searches for the information he needs, he sometimes has to put the caller on hold, which creates a negative customer experience.

It turns out that many of Chase R.'s coworkers have the same problem. To help them out, you realize you can improve their jobs with one simple change: integrating your CRM with your call management application. Now all your agents can spend less time flipping back and forth between different applications to look up caller info. Chase R. is happy, your customers are happy, and you're happy!

Whether it's investing in training so your agents feel prepared at work or technology to make tasks easier for them, listening and responding to your employees' needs will make a world of difference.

We won't lie: Reducing turnover in customer service is no walk in the park. But with these three steps, you have a shot at creating an environment that makes your employees want to stay. Just ask Chase R.

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