With unlocking potential one of the key themes at this year’s National Customer Service Week (2-6th October), Kenny Bain, CEO of Rant & Rave looks at ways to drive engagement with employees working in the customer service sector and, ultimately, help them to reach their full potential.
If you ask any CEO what the most important factor is when it comes to the success of the business, they will invariably say it’s people. Employees are key – even more so when they are responsible for providing a memorable experience to customers – and so regularly engaging with them, and keeping them satisfied and focused at work, is a vital aspect of managing a business.
A happy and motivated employee is much more likely to do the best job they possibly can and fulfill their potential, which in turn will mean that the end customer receives great quality service.
Employee and customer engagement are intrinsically linked; if you think about any positive brand experience you’ve had, it will almost certainly include someone who did something out of the ordinary.
While frontline agents will realise that sticking to the script isn’t always the right approach for the customer, the truth is that many are restricted by processes and protocols. Although they are encouraged to solve problems for the customer, they’re rarely empowered to do this proactively. To achieve effective frontline employee engagement and help staff to reach their full potential, I have outlined below a few key approaches:
Gamification is an approach that helps to improve employee engagement; aligning individual behaviours and characteristics with those of the wider organisation. At its most basic level, it involves turning work tasks into games by introducing a healthy level of competition.
There are multiple ways to introduce gamification; for example, a company could install a fun, interactive leaderboard system or a real-time dashboard, through which staff can view and assess their own performance and see where they rank among their peers, as well as within their department or the organisation in its entirety.
It could also include the individual attributes that customers are asked to provide feedback on, such as: attitude, training, skills and knowledge, speed and quality of service, allowing managers to identify the areas in which their team is succeeding and areas in need of improvement.
This approach has been proven to affect customer satisfaction, with clients recording significant improvements on how their teams are engaging with customers.
Companies will find it much easier to keep their teams aligned if they share their objectives and strategies. By sharing plans and celebrating achievements together, the whole organisation can get excited about successes and individuals will feel like they are part of the bigger picture.
Feeling valued is integral to motivation.
This transparency allows agents to realise their role within the organisation and get a better insight into the company as a whole. Taking this approach means that employees will receive feedback that the organisation receives about them – both good and bad. With positive feedback, they can develop a clearer idea of what customers like about what they’re doing, and, with negative responses, they can work on those areas of improvement.
Empowering frontline agents is about providing them with a clear framework to work within, but with flexibility. It’s not about throwing away the rulebook – the definition of why and how they do things should remain, but they must feel they have some power to use their personal skills to adapt their interactions.
This approach will enable a greater emotional connection between agents and customers. It’s about giving employees a real sense of purpose and demonstrating to them the power they have in creating great customer experiences.
If they feel trusted and have the power to solve problems, companies will see them taking pride in their role and the results will speak for themselves.
You don’t need to hand out medals at the end of every day, but it’s important to recognise agents’ achievements. A simple ‘well done’ will provide a lot of encouragement and reassurance; it tells an employee that they’ve done a good job and that they’re doing the right thing.
Positivity goes a long way – and the satisfaction that celebrating successes gives employees will improve performance all around.
Frontline staff are the key to an organisation’s ability to provide outstanding customer service. If a company develops a comprehensive employee engagement strategy focused around listening to and empowering people then they, in turn, will have the ability and inclination to do what is best for the customer.
When all is said and done, it’s worth remembering that it’s your people who are forming emotional connections with your customers every day and it’s those emotions that drive the hearts, minds and wallets of customers, ultimately determining whether they’ll become a ‘Raver’ or a defect forever.