You would think it’s a no-brainer, but often companies aren’t making their customer service agents’ satisfaction a priority, even though a clear correlation exists between happy employees and happy customers.
“If you ask a company, whether it’s a small business or a big corporation, ‘Who’s most important to you?’ you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t say, ‘It’s my customers. If I didn’t have my customers, I wouldn’t be here,’” says Deborah Navarra, senior analyst at DMG Consulting and a former contact center agent, supervisor, and manager.
“Then you look at who is talking to the customer,” Navarra says. “Shouldn’t those people be considered relatively valued, based on the fact that they are the ones you’re putting on the front line to talk to the most important people? I think it’s such a paradox because companies forget about that.”
Aimee Lucas, vice president and customer experience transformist at the Temkin Group, also believes that engaging agents means more than just hiring to fill seats. “It’s critical, because when you recognize the assets that you have in employees, they’re going to in turn to be able to better engage and serve customers who call in. They really are assets and need to be treated that way.”
Supervisors Can’t Get No Satisfaction Either
While agents on the front lines are often maligned by customers and ignored by their employers, sometimes their superiors, the very people they look to for guidance, can be stuck in a worse situation. That problem bears out when considering that research has shown that the front line staff has the most trust for their direct supervisor, Lucas points out.
“Unfortunately, in a lot of organizations, supervisors are even less respected than agents,” Navarra says. “It’s a lower-level middle management position. What does that tell an agent?
‘I don’t respect the work that your supervisor is doing,’ and you report to that person. It’s a residual effect.”
Instead, Lucas recommends that companies consciously go about activating that middle management. “Have them be part of engaging their employees and they’re going to be more successful,” Lucas says.
Can You Train Your Agents to Happiness?
On top of that issue, companies sometimes don’t provide enough training or the support needed to turn contact center problems around.
Lucas says that companies should be mindful that agents have the information they need so that they are clear with what is expected, and give them the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to successfully deliver on expectations. This includes keeping agents in the loop and sharing feedback that a company gets from its customers.
Lucas also believes that when management is able to take feedback from the customer and marry it with data from an interaction, a more valuable coaching conversation or broader education of a group can occur. This helps elevate everyone’s performance.
“You are reinforcing the values of the company because you have an employee who’s aligned with the goals of the organization, who is then going to be able to service the customers at a much higher level,” she says.
Technology Can Make Agents’ Lives Easier
Every day it seems as though there are new tools coming to market to help organizations glean information about their customers and get immediate ROI. Speech analytics and big data solutions, to name just a couple, are becoming as popular as the latest iPhone—must-have technology that will