It’s said that when you’re interacting with someone and smiling, that person can perceive you’re smiling, even if they can’t see you. So what do your customers perceive with they interact with your customer service representatives?
Within many organizations, CSRs don a perpetual frown as the low-paid, low man on the corporate totem pole. But that perception is changing as more businesses and organizations recognize their customer service representatives’ direct impact on corporate brand and top-line revenues – and their potential as future leaders within the company. After all, who knows your customers better than someone who has interacted with them on a daily basis for the past five or ten years?
Accentuate the Positive
By ensuring your CSRs are happy and feel valued, your company is also ensuring that your customers feel happier and more valued, because strengths emphasis – when it’s perceived as sincere – directly correlates to employee engagement. Consider these impressive statistics:
- When managers recognize, praise, and manage to specific individual strengths in their teams, employee performance increases by 32.4%. Conversely, when they emphasize weaknesses, performance drops by 26.8%.
- In a Gallup survey of management techniques, 61% of employees whose managers primarily emphasized their strengths said they were engaged in their work, with just 1% saying they were “actively disengaged.”
According to JoAnna Brandi, founder of customer service consultancy JoAnna Brandi & Company, high-performing service organizations use positive reinforcement, recognition, and similar productivity drivers five times more often than negative enforcement techniques.
And for those organizations that can’t afford to implement sophisticated pay-for-performance programs, non-financial incentives such as increased status and perks (i.e., performance-based department celebrations, the opportunity to request scheduling times, have the first choice of holiday leave, or to occasionally work from home) can work equally well. “Efforts that highlight appreciation are huge to engagement and retention,” says Brandi.
What Engages Customer Service Employees?
Christopher Mulligan, CEO of TalentKeepers, notes that an engaged agent is a better agent and much more geared toward high performance. “An engaged service employee is more motivated to make discretionary efforts – they take that extra call or chat session, and try more solutions before they escalate a contact.”
He cites four engagement attributes that rank high on all agents’ needs lists:
- Credible leadership: Agents want to work for managers they see as knowledgeable, skilled, accessible, and compassionate.
- Support of co-workers: When agents feel part of a good team, they perform better individually and are more open to coaching and mentoring. Overall team performance climbs as well.
- A job within a high-performing company: People want to work for a winner, and raise their game if they feel the company is doing well.
- Job and career satisfaction: Agents want the opportunity to leverage their strengths and have a defined path to achieve their career goals. These may change as the worker matures and they gain experience, but organizations that manage to strengths, review individual goals, and offer career-path options significantly increase their chances of retaining their best workers.
Read Mulligan’s advice for meeting these needs, more about what makes customer service representatives happy (“the three Ts”), low and no-cost ways to achieve employee satisfaction, and more beneficial customer service insights, as the experts weigh in on the best incentives to motivate your front-line workforce and make them true champions of your company and brand. Download Parature’s new FREE white paper: Treat Your Agents Well: Service Thrives on Engaged Employees.
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