Good customer service is integral to maintaining a solid reputation and increasing your sales. Unfortunately, something that sometimes gets in the way of that is customer service agent burnout. Check out the highly popular #customerserviceproblems hashtag on Instagram and you'll quickly understand the pervasiveness of pessimism and unhappiness in the customer service industry. Because the issue is so common, it's especially important for business owners and managers to ensure their agents are happy and productive. Here are a few tips.
One way customer service agents get overwhelmed is when they're not properly or adequately trained in the appropriate protocol and processes for all situations. Lack of training can have an array of negative consequences, including inconsistent customer treatment, policy not being enforced, and agents picking up the slack when past agents mess up (which, of course, only compounds stress).
That's why creating a comprehensive onboarding process is important. After you onboard your agents, your job isn't over, though. Making sure leadership is available to answer questions can alleviate the stress of guesswork.
Lighten Their Load
Another big cause of customer service burnout is forcing agents to do too much in a day. Yes, being efficient is important, but making sure your agents are not spreading themselves too thin is just as essential. Without a good attitude, agents can misrepresent your company and even tarnish your reputation.
Easing up agent workload can be accomplished in a number of ways including: providing adequate self-service (the Help.com app offers a knowledgebase tool); creating efficient routing processes (automated routing is useful--we have that, too); or simply increasing your service team by hiring more agents.
Praise and Incentivize
As the saying goes, "Critique in private and praise in public." Don't skimp out on praising your team when they deserve it. A little goes a long way.
If any agents on your team are doing exceptionally well, the best way to reward them is with an incentive. When members see a leading agent getting a bonus or a raise for their hard work, it encourages and motivates them to do better. And that's the goal, isn't it?
Give Them Breaks
Yes, your company is busy. But without appropriate breaks, your team's morale can easily spiral downward. Giving your team adequate time to decompress isn't just a benefit for them; it plays in your favor, too. Happy agents interact with customers more positively, meaning more positive experiences with your business.
In addition to physical "time off" breaks, you should make sure to go easy on your team in other ways, too. It's incumbent on management to create a culture that does not demonize mistakes--we all make them. While performance monitoring may be helpful, it can also be a source of anxiety if expectations are too strict or unrealistic. Instead of training your employees to fear making any kind of mistake, nurture a company culture that views mistakes as an inevitable part of the learning curve. By doing this, your staff will feel more comfortable around you. They'll be more transparent, too.
Don't Dim Their Light
Customer service is a part of almost any business model, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring. Oftentimes, sitting at a computer answering questions all day can grow tiresome. Let your employees insert their personality into their workflows. Encourage employees to decorate their spaces, dress casually, and have a little fun with each other. It won't be the end of the world.
If your employees are communicating with customers via chat, give them the freedom to use emojis or even GIFs. Not only does it add levity to dry conversations, it also demonstrates a certain level of trust in your team. Nothing inspires confidence like knowing leadership trusts you.
What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.