All companies are looking for answers on where to find excellent customer service personnel, how to motivate them to enjoy their work and how to maintain an excellent customer service level still after many years.
And no wonder –customer service and its quality is something to focus on since its effect on a company’s success is tremendous. Companies providing excellent customer service stand out from their competitors. The company’s productivity increases when their clients do not need to turn to competitors thus decreasing new client acquisition costs. Customer service is also the key for attracting clients from competitors.
In terms of saving recruitment and training resources, a company should hold on to good customer service personnel. It is important to listen to their wishes and the efforts spent in good quality management will pay off in the long run.
PHONE CUSTOMER SERVICE QUALITY IS MEASURED BY HEARING
The phone customer service person, whether a Customer Advisor, Front Desk Employee, Service Agent or a Service Advisor, uses phone and his/her voice as main tools. As there is no visual contact with the customer, the focus falls on the voice.
Humans have a natural talent to distinguish different emotions from the tone of voice. As Teija Waaramaa-Mäki-Kulmala mentions in the prologue of her 2010 Yearbook of the Oral Communication (in Finnish language), the data gathered from listening tests have proven that speech, which is intended to be emotionally neutral and fails to show any hints of positive nuances, is easily perceived as being entirely negative or rude. Therefore, it is not necessarily enough that the customer service person is being neutral and polite, positive nuances are weighed also and a smile is heard on the other end of the receiver.
Customers want only positive experiences as well as sudden changes towards positivity, if the initial moments in the phone call have tuned towards negative. That is a hard challenge. Only a genuinely content and happy employee can provide the customer with high quality customer service. It is thus important to invest in the smile – first for the employee and thus for the customer.
THERE’S A HUMAN ON THE OTHER END OF THE RECEIVER – NOT A MACHINE
Anyone who has ever worked or is currently working in a Contact Centre environment knows the occasional harshness of this profession, something which is often reported by tabloids. Even the most skillful customer attendant cannot avoid customers who unload their rage and frustration at them, if things don’t go their way. This can upset the employee or even momentarily break him/her regardless of the pleasant work environment or their high motivation.
It is at that exact moment of an emotional breakdown where the team spirit and the co-workers’ empathy skills are crucial. In order to remove the piercing pain caused by an angry phone call and to pick up the next call with new confidence, one might need a few encouraging words, a coffee break, a walk outside, hug or the right kind of look given by a teammate.
The working environment an employer creates tells much about how much the individual employee is respected in the company. The employee might not expect the newest and the most expensive work-space possible but rather good social environment where he/she feels safe and happy; a place where the co-workers support and encourage each other. This is especially true in the service sector where good team relations increase working comfort significantly. That is why the manager and the Human Resources personnel can affect the working atmosphere by selecting the right team players already during the recruitment process.
But what about the manager? How can he/she look after their employees’ wellbeing and smile? The answer is by being brave, listening to his/her employee and asking them straightforward how, when and where would the employee like to work at. What makes an employee happy and gives him/her strength and energy to perform well in his/her job? How could they be assisted to carry on fulfilling their duties?
A customer support employee gets a positive feeling from his/her work, if there is a good balance between work efficiency requirements and workplace wellbeing. The manager has a great role in what kind of ground and social working environment he/she builds for his/her employees.
Since companies are competing for good customer service personnel, the employee has the power to choose what kind of working environment he/she wants to work in. Employment and work nature have changed dramatically. 70% of the people aged below 36 years feel that the central part of their life is anything else but work. Work and spare time can sometimes intertwine and as the work becomes more demanding, it makes employees pay more attention to recovering from their workday and having a good mental wellbeing.
When everything else that is interesting in the world is competing for the employee’s time alongside with work, the work should be something the employee can be proud of and it should feel meaningful to him/her. That is when the work starts to feel appealing taking the focus off from everything else for the moment. The feeling of importance is crucial in a work where one needs to confront faceless critique.
In a five minute long phone conversation it is possible to create an unforgettable customer experience and to get the customer bring the company more profit and value. However, before attempting to achieve that value, before answering the phone calls, the employee should feel recognized and respected.