The current pandemic has had a profound impact on every American customer’s relationship with nearly every business they patronize.
It has heightened some needs and muted others. It has softened customer expectations of some providers, while intensifying their frustrations with others. Yet, at the center of all of these shifting priorities, one thing has remained remarkably consistent: the power of a talented, engaged customer care agent to strengthen the bond between brand and customer.
We all know that customer experience (CX) is a critical driver of long-term brand performance. But sometimes, it seems that a pivotal driver of customer experience is employee experience. COVID-19 has driven that point home in a big way.
Put more simply, Happy Employees = Happy Customers.
Here are 5 powerful ways to ensure that your customer care team is engaged and empowered to take great care of your customers.
- Let your agents work from home
Multiple studies over the course of many years have shown that employees are happier about their jobs when they’re able to work from home. But here’s something that I have certainly noticed, first hand – that I think is often missed in those studies: during turbulent times of rapid shifts in call volumes, at-home agents who are offered extra shifts are able to walk from one part of their home to their desk, log in, and they’re at work, making extra money. No last minute prep for the office, no commuting hassles. They arrive at work comfortable, happy, and ready to work. This is something we observe on calls every day – and something our agents tell us. When call center agents work from home, they’re happier and more engaged on every call.
- Make technology easy to use
Nothing throws friction into a call like cumbersome technology. When agents have to switch between tools just to find answers or suffer slow response times because your legacy systems are outdated, you’ve just undermined your customer care team and inadvertently placed a gap between the customer’s expectation and the experience you deliver.
- Make customer care positions into career springboards
Far too many call centers operate under the mistaken belief that their agents aren’t interested in career growth. Like I said, that’s a mistake. Just about every agent – even those employees who are perfectly satisfied in the agent role – want to know that they are respected members of the team. They want to know that the skills they use on the job contribute to brand success and are worthy of promotion to higher positions. If your call center does not promote from within or provide educational and development opportunities, they’re not fully engaging your agents.
- Ask for feedback and show how you use it.
Very few people your organization understand your customer as well as your front line agents. How often does your platform manager seek your agents’ input and feedback on customer needs, expectations, reactions, and requests? When you neglect to ask, you’re not just missing the opportunity to gather important market intelligence, you’re sending a powerfully negative message to your agents: that you’re not interested in their observations or opinions. Agents who feel like their voice is unimportant will quickly become disengaged.
Maybe even more importantly, ask your agents how they’re doing. An annual, anonymous survey is a good start. But a commitment to ongoing, every week communication – both formal and informal – will take you so much further. You won’t be able to enact every suggestion. And they won’t expect you to. But they will notice – and appreciate you – when you follow up and keep the communication loop intact.
- Invest heavily in team collaboration, communication, and recognition
Working from home makes many things easier. But it also makes it much harder for your agents to establish the camaraderie they would naturally establish with each other if they were working on-site. Your agents need those connections with their colleagues. And your brand needs those connections, too. When your agents work from home, the heavy burden for establishing this sense of teamwork falls on the shoulders of your supervisors. Talented supervisors and managers know how to create fun on-screen events, friendly competitions, and meaningful recognition moments. Without the right people in these supervisory roles, it is impossible to create the kind of high performing at-home team you need.
If you would like to know how Skybridge Americas can help you improve customer experience with best-in-class customer care teams, please reach out. We would love to talk!
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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