Motivating Your Customer Service Teams

“Motivation will almost always beat mere talent.” – Norman Ralph Augustine

The quote rings true – motivation is crucial for the performance of people in their everyday lives. In companies, it is essential to keep the workforce motivated, and amongst the most stressed and high-pressured roles in a company are the ones that exist in the customer service teams. Since the customer service teams are the ones who deal directly with customers and would be the ones to create positive experiences for them, it makes sense to motivate the customer service teams in every way possible. Poorly treated customer service teams would have low morale, lack enthusiasm, and would overall provide shoddy treatment to customers – sad employees can never make happy customers. Despite the crucial role of these teams, it is sad that some companies continue to ignore them, which in turn means that the company’s customers receive poor service resulting in lowered sales and declining profits for a company.  Strangely, companies would look at several factors trying to understand why their business would be failing – poorly treated service teams would probably not be one of the factors they look at.

Motivating your customer service teams is neither hard, and nor is it unimportant, which is why companies do not have any excuse for failing on this count. A service job is tough, gruelling, onerous, and even boring – hence it is the onus of companies to do whatever they can to take some of the stress off, and keep their customer service teams motivated and happy. What steps does your company take to boost the morale of its customer service teams? The most important step in motivating your customer service teams (and overall workforce) is to show them that the company respects their work, and that they are valued and trusted. Knowledge databases and information about the company must be accessible to all – rather than being filtered and trickled down from the leadership. Everyone must be able to easily access and find information relevant to them as individuals, and for performing their job roles to the optimum.

When a company is able to show trust for its workforce, especially towards the customer service teams who have access to sensitive data about the company and its customers, the company motivates them to do their job better, and be worthy of the trust. Companies that seem to distrust, and constantly ‘breathe down the necks of their employees’ would notice a pronounced fall in the performance and motivation levels of their employees. The customer service teams specifically should be empowered to make spot decisions to help customers – since slow and bureaucratic behaviour can be extremely irritating for customers. It would be essential to provide these teams with the necessary tools, technology, and knowledge required to do their job – and then stand back and allow them to perform. For a company too, not trusting its customer service teams would mean added expenditure, by way of employing more people to supervise them and constantly tell them what to do. Given the work they do, customer service teams must have the ability to ‘think on their feet’. However, through constant supervision, service staff could lose the will to use their intelligence, and would rather wait for instructions than speedily help customers. We know that customers hate to wait, and if the customer service teams are prone to waiting for the next order, customer wait times and service levels are bound to fall.

It should be the job of immediate supervisors and managers to motivate their customer service teams. Each person in the team must be treated at par, and with respect. They must receive adequate time-off, have a flexible working environment, receive regular praise and feedback on their performance, receive their salaries, increments, and bonuses (if any) on time, have equal access to training and development programs, and have avenues to express their feedback and concerns with fear of being ridiculed or punished.

Companies expect customers to trust and like them. However, this is only possible when a company gives them reason to do so. Service to customers happens mainly through the customer service teams, and hence unless these teams are shown respect and trust, they would not be equipped to provide this kind of service to customers. Employees that feel valued, are happy to come to work and give their best. Treating employees, especially the customer service teams, poorly would lead to higher absenteeism, ill-health, and general feelings of hatred towards the company. Happy customer service teams on the other hand, would be the positive voice of the company, leading to happier customers, resulting in more business and higher profits for the company.

One of the key aspects of motivating the customer service teams is ensuring that their knowledge and skills remain at par with the changing needs of customers and demands of the market. By providing and creating time to avail training and development opportunities, it would be a lot easier to motivate the customer service teams to upgrade their skills, learn new techniques, and become more proficient in helping customers. Accessibility to training and development opportunities shows employees that the company is willing to invest in them and is interested in their welfare, both professionally and personally. It also gives employees something additional to look forward to, have a higher aim, and be more inclined to work together cohesively. Training and development is a great way to motivate customer service teams and other employees since it increases the possibility of them moving up the hierarchy, earning better, and taking sure steps to success.

We know that customer service teams have a tough job, however, with able leadership and empathetic leaders, their job would seem a lot easier. The job of the supervisors and managers must ideally be to lead, coach, guide, and correct the teams when required. Hand-holding and constant supervision, and micro-management is passé, and continuing to engage in over supervision would lead to disgruntled teams. People want to feel trusted and responsible, and micro-management results in the opposite feelings. In addition, it is the job of the managers and supervisors to ensure that the workload is distributed equally, that each team member has enough time off, and that a suitable reward and recognition program is in place for those performing consistently well against their job requirements. The customer service teams are often overworked, resulting in working non-stop without breaks, and or a proper lunch. This in turn would affect concentration levels, leading to poor productivity and quality of work. It should be the job of a manager to ensure that each team member takes adequate breaks, and has a relaxed time for eating their meal.

Motivating customer service teams is quintessential to the success of any company now. A number of customer service roles are not very high paying, but if a company valued them and showed them respect, they would work harder and produce better results. Service staff are directly responsible for helping customers, and it is them who are responsible for providing the kind of experiences that would keep customers coming back to the company. However, sad and unmotivated staff would be unlikely to provide enthusiastic and friendly service to customers, which ultimately would lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn.

By consistently motivating your customer service teams, your company is actually investing in its own future and success. Strong service teams would serve customers to the point of delighting them, which in turn proves to be the competitive advantage for a company, leading to long-term profitability and success.

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