The pandemic was bad enough and then the holidays came upon us. Historically, the last few weeks of the year always bring more stress on people for a multitude of reasons. And for customer service employees, this stress even extends into the new year with the usual crush of holiday gift returns, exchanges, complaints, and a host of other issues. It’s hard enough that 40% of customers want service reps to resolve their problems faster, according to customer service platform Feefo. What can leaders do to help relieve or reduce this stress?
Making employees feel appreciated and invaluable has always been the mantra of many CEOs. Making the customer support team a priority by providing them with everything they need to do their job well steps it up even further. This could mean everything from updated software to the addition of chatbots to handle the most frequently asked questions and requests, as well as more training, detailed FAQ sheets, etc. Arming reps with what they need not only allows them to do the best job possible but also decreases their likelihood of feeling overwhelmed.
Publicly recognizing exemplary customer service also raises the entire team’s spirit. Congratulate and recognize members who are role models of excellence. And don’t forget to also thank and acknowledge any consumers who may have called attention to this great service. It will further instill brand loyalty among them knowing that the brand’s culture cherishes excellent customer service and recognizes its employees.
Stats from Feefo say that employees who feel they’re being heard by company leaders are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best as well as being less likely to suffer burnout. Being open and candid with customer support teams and inviting their feedback is powerful. Also know that some reps may be reluctant to broach a potentially sensitive issue so consider sending out surveys which they can elect to answer anonymously. Some may deliver even deeper insights into upcoming or potential issues.
Aim to make life and work easier for both customers and staff. If this means investing in tools and software to help reps work faster and more efficiently, place this in the budget. Audit the reason for calls and if some can be answered by providing more and better information on the website, act on it. To gain customer perspectives, ask them for suggestions as well in addition to completing a survey after they’re connected with the brand’s reps.
It takes patience, empathy, being a good listener and knowing where to get answers to be an effective customer rep but that doesn’t necessarily make the work less stressful. Some customer personas aren’t wired that way. Encourage regular breaks, whether the reps work remotely or at the company and insist that they physically step away from their desks. When and where possible, have an expert available whom they can call on and speak to in confidence to consult with and share problems.
Burnout among employees working in customer service has historically been higher than other departments and has also led to greater turnover, absenteeism and other issues. The result is more vacancies while calls keep flooding the call center and greater costs for ongoing training and orientation. Brands experiencing these issues would do well to implement these suggestions.