No matter what your industry or service is, there are times when things are going to go wrong - and when they do, your customer service representatives are at the front of the line. When the customer seems distressed, frustrated, or scrambling, they're the team that's there when they need them the most. They're a vital part of any organization. Having poor customer service can turn angry customers into ex-customers; having excellent customer service can turn those furious customers into lifetime-loyal ones.
Somebody's Gotta Do It: The Personalities of a Successful Customer Service Professional
It's not easy dealing with those customers who are calling customer service. They're aggravated, tired, and - often - at their wits' end. They don't want to hear excuses. Instead, they want the representative to listen to their issues and solve their problems.
To de-escalate the situation, the job demands a particular type of person. By nature, customer service is a confrontational job; it's different than most others, where the object is to avoid confrontation. That means that stress is built-in to the job description - and you need a special type of patient, helpful person to deal with it. Managers can also help with that stress. Give your customer service reps the tools they need to handle it. Set them up in the right environment, give them the resources they need, and reward them when they do their job well.
How to Strengthen Your Customer Service Team
How can you deliver that boost to your customer service team? First, know this: it matters how you treat your team. If your employees don't feel like the manager or the parent company cares about them, then why should they care about your customers? It's essential that you show your customer service team that you care. You don't need big gestures - little things go a long way. Just be consistent. Align what you say to what you do; after all, you can't fool your people for too long.
Caring about your people has a wealth of positive effects, both in the short-term and the long-term. Your organizational success rate will improve. Your employees will be more motivated at daily tasks. They'll believe that they're helping people and that they're making a difference. Praise for one person doesn't only help the recipient - it helps the entire team.
Another key point? Listen to what your team has to say. It's free, and it's useful. When they bring something to your attention, listen carefully. It sometimes takes a lot of courage to talk to your superior about something. If they raise an issue, it is more than likely a significant one. Listen to what they're saying, and address the problem. It's an easy, effective way to get the team on your side.
Incentives for your team will also bring them closer together. Working towards the same goals is key for groups; feeling like a valued member of a team is vital to the social animals that people are.
Recognition Ideas to Get Started
How can you start to recognize the efforts of your customer service team? Here are some suggestions and guidelines:
- First, customize the recognition you give to the person receiving it. Make it larger or smaller, based on their personality. A private pat on the back may be suitable for some people, while a public thank-you may work for others.
- Praise them immediately after the event. Just a sincere "Nice work!" is enough. If they set a precedent, be sure to share it with the rest of the company.
- Try writing them a letter. Be specific to the person and the incident. Make it personal and sincere, and not at all like a form letter. A hand-written letter is a nice touch. Don't forget to detail the event you're praising, and talk about how it was a model customer service moment. Let them know why the exchange had such an effect on the customer, and show gratitude for the work.
- Get them a gift. It doesn't have to be something expensive; it's the thought that counts. Make it personal and something that the specific person would enjoy. Don't get too generic (don't send Omaha steaks to vegetarians, for example). Just like the letter - if it's personal, it will resonate more.
- Get the team involved. Use the praise-worthy event as an example for the rest of the team to aspire to. Get the team together and discuss what a good incentive should be. It could be prizes, lunches, parties, or something else. Find out what motivates them. If it's a goal that has meaning, it's a goal they will pursue.
It's critical that you recognize the stressful jobs that your customer service team does every day. Make them feel like you care about them so that they can care about the customer. A program in place to give incentives to your customer service team is a crucial step in keeping them happy. You could reinvent the wheel, finding out what works and what doesn't by trial and error - or you could find a team of experts who know precisely how to keep your team happy and motivated. Find out more about how CoreCentive can excite, engage, and empower your employees.