Why You Need Your Customer Service Team to be Fully Engaged
Oct 25, 2022 · 10 mins read ·Employee Engagement
It stands to reason that if you have a customer service team customer helpline customer support team or [insert the name of your customer facing people here] you want them to be outgoing friendly and knowledgeable individuals who put delighting your users or clients above everything else they do.
Indeed every organization needs to deliver some variety of customer service even if you don’t have a dedicated department staffed with dozens of people all wearing headsets or manning chat support apps.
The problem is customer support or service tends to get a bit of a bad rap.
Automated menus frustratingly long queue times being left on hold getting cut off when you’re being transferred to a different department and then - ugh - being dealt with by someone who either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or who merely parrots a script without getting to the root of your issue.
Of course this is the worst case scenario and there are plenty of great customer service teams out there who go above and beyond. But why?
What makes some customer service teams awesome and others well awful?
Could it all come down to something you might consider when managing the other teams in your organization but overlook when it comes to the customer service department?
We’re talking about employee engagement.
Why you need your customer service team to be fully engaged
It’s funny isn’t it - we all know that employee engagement strategies are crucial when it comes to encouraging our people to show up as their authentic selves day in day out and to be a positive and productive member of staff.
Read more: 10 Ways to Motivate Disengaged Employees
We actively reward and recognize our sales teams marketing and design people business development guys and more. But what about the customer service team?
If you’ve come to the realization that your customer service levels are somewhat lacking it’s probably time to invest as much time and effort into those employees as you do with their coworkers.
Change your culture change your customer service
It makes sense that if your customer support people feel like the forgotten department within your organization that negativity and resentment are going to fester.
Employees won’t stick around and will seek employment elsewhere and their replacements are simply walking into a pessimistic environment which will quickly kill any enthusiasm they had for their new role.
And this of course has a knock on effect on the way that your employees deliver customer service.
Why go the extra mile if you feel like your bosses won’t notice don’t care and won’t reward you for it?
So to change the way customer service is delivered by your people you need to change the culture within if not your entire organization within that department at the very least.
How to engage with your remote customer service team
We’ve looked before at engaging with your remote teams and it may well be that some or all of your customer service people are working remotely or from home.
If this is the case let’s look at a few key pointers to help remote workers feel more engaged:
- Check in with remote employees who’ve just joined the company
- Ensure that communication and being able to communicate is straightforward
- Communicate with consistency
- Hold virtual team building events
- Hold regular team meetings
- Provide the same opportunities you would to office workers
Crucially it is this last point that you need to focus on. Specifically you need to be providing your customer service team with the same opportunities that the rest of your teams and departments enjoy.
You also need to create a work environment and company culture that motivates and inspires these employees to deliver excellent customer service.
How to engage with your onsite customer service team
Let’s address your physical environment first.
Create an environment that inspires
Customer service departments are traditionally associated with small cramped booths or gray banks of desks stretching as far as the eye can see.
But employees who are crammed into rabbit hutch sized cubicles with strip lighting overhead and screens between them and their coworkers probably aren’t going to deliver first rate customer service.
Now granted changing your entire set-up might not be possible but are there ways in which you can make your customer support department’s surroundings a more pleasant place to be? After all it’s a rare employee who’s going to feel engaged if they hate their office and feel excluded or forgotten about by the powers that be.
Plenty of natural light is important in maintaining employee wellbeing as are plants and greenery - aka biophilic office design. You could also ask your team what they want their office space to look like.
Develop policies and procedures that benefit employees
Whether your people are remote or onsite you need your policies and procedures to work with your customer support people not against them.
If unwieldy systems and workflows are making life more difficult than it needs to be your people are going to be stressed out and frustrated - and they aren’t going to be delivering awesome customer service.
Especially if those procedures directly affect your customers.
Solid policies and solutions that make life easier for everyone will increase job satisfaction and engagement and enable your team to better help your customers or end users.
Recognize and reward your customer service people
If someone on your business development team lands a big contract or a new client chances are their manager recognizes this and gives them a shout out a small reward - such as a gift card - or even a bonus.
If your sales team upsells a service or product resulting in great end of quarter figures a team lunch or night out might be in order.
But what about your customer support team? The unsung heroes on the frontline?
Employees who deliver excellent customer service deserve rewards and recognition too. When someone consistently exceeds expectations tell them. Acknowledge them in the team meeting. Say thanks with a gift card to the local coffee shop.
When your employees feel valued and recognized they’ll be more engaged and will continue to provide great service. It’s a domino effect and a positive one at that.
Even better when employees are feeling seen and know that their efforts are appreciated they’ll be more likely to be proactive. For example thinking on their feet and offering a solution if a customer is threatening to take their business elsewhere or even figuring out ways to increase customer satisfaction without spending loads of money.
Set (realistic) expectations
We’ve all heard the stories about companies who demand that employees answer a huge amount of calls pick and pack an eye-watering quantity of products or make a barely-possible number of deliveries.
And these stories never fail to mention how stressed and unhappy their workers are.
Of course you need targets but you need them to be achievable. Your customer service team deserves some sort of work-life balance just like the rest of your staff.
Employees who don’t know what they’re aiming for - or who are given unattainable goals - are not going to be engaged. They’re going to be listless in the first instance and frazzled and burnt out in the latter.
Set customer service performance expectations and track employee performance and then crucially provide feedback training and support if necessary. (And recognition if it’s not!)
Why you need a fully engaged customer service team: conclusion
The obvious benefit of an engaged customer support team is better customer service. But in order to up your customer service levels you need to have a happy productive workforce. And that means ensuring that people are engaged.
I'm a UK-based content writer here at Hezum. I've an interest in all things HR and company culture.