Customer service is both king and queen in a contact center -- in fact, it's the entire point of having a contact center in the first place. Taking care of your customers keeps the company on target for an acceptable bottom line and profit margin. So, how do you keep the customers you have and gain new customers to grow your company?
The answer has been under your nose all along. The number one key to keeping your customers happy is keeping your employees happy. Happy and engaged employees create happy and satisfied customers, who in turn create the best free advertising in the universe for your company.
Sarah Stealey Reed, content director of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), knows good customer service. This is what she has to say about the value of happy, engaged contact center employees:
Happy and engaged employees don't just create happy and satisfied customers; they help create extremely engaged customers. Studies show that only 25% of companies feel that their customers are extremely engaged with their brand.
How can you fix that? Look at your employee experience above
all else. The employee experience affects employee satisfaction, which affects the customer
experience. It is here that engagement takes effect. It's really that simple.
--Sarah Stealey Reed, content director, ICMI.
It all starts in your contact center environment. Be sure to consider the following factors when working to create a happy work environment for contact center employees:
When is the last time you sat down in your contact center and personally took calls? How was the communication system? Could you hear the customer and could they hear you clearly? Was the chair comfortable, was the desk set up ergonomically? How about the lighting and the temperature? Are there any personal touches like family pictures? Would you want to work in that space eight to nine hours each day? If your answer to any of these questions is "no," then just imagine what your employees are thinking.
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Have you provided your employees with the latest technology to do their jobs at a highly competitive level? If not, then you shouldn't expect them to work at that level. Invest in technology and equipment so that your employees can then invest in the customer and the company's future.
Give your employees the wiggle-room to say yes to customer requests or to do something a little extra for the customer. Deviating a little bit from the call script and rules will make the customers feel special. When customers feel special, they stick around.
Your contact center agents know your customers almost as well as they know their own friends and family. They spend all day talking to your customers and know what is working and what is not working for the company. Mine that data. Ask your employees what they think would work better. Their ideas might even be better than your own.
Your employees are doing the job they are paid to do. With that said, your employees are human beings, and human beings like praise. We like to know that someone notices we are doing a good job. Do you only interact with your agents when something is wrong? When is the last time you surprised your employees with a free lunch, an afternoon off or cupcakes just to say thanks for a job well done? Simple efforts and shows of appreciation go a long way, and cupcakes go even farther.
More information on creating a positive contact center environment
How Gerry Barber has spent his entire career developing excellent contact centers
How a great team lead can improve your contact center environment
Dick Azar, the first Coors Beer distributor in Texas, built an empire bit by bit and block by block with his employees. When you walked into his office building, the first thing you saw was an organizational chart behind the receptionist's desk. Instead of having his name as CEO at the top, the chart was inverted. This showed that, to Azar, the most important people in the company were people like receptionists and delivery drivers -- people who knew the customers.
Everyone in Azar's company was instructed to do whatever it took to make it possible for these specific employees to do the best job possible. Azar knew that if the receptionist and the delivery drivers were happy, they would do a great job, and when these employees did a great job, it made everyone else's job in the company much easier and the company more successful.
Today's contact center environments boast roomfuls of employees who, like Azar's receptionists and delivery drivers, are very close to customers. That's why it's important to treat them like customer service royalty.
CEO Dayna Steele is a leading authority on business and success trends including social media, networking and customer service. She is a rock radio Hall of Famer and author of the 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series. She writes for FastCompany.com, consults Fortune 500 companies and is a popular keynote speaker. Her business card sums it up: Dayna Steele, Creates rock stars. Please visit her website, YourDailySuccessTip.com
This was first published in July 2013