Delivering great customer service and that amazing customer experience has never been more important. In an ever-increasing market, customer experience is often seen as the competitive advantage. Businesses are (mostly) good at ensuring their staff are trained to handle the array of calls that are likely to come their way. There will be process flows, a few handy scripts, post it notes dotted around their desk with reminders of the things usually forgotten and training sessions that they no doubt attend. They will know what they can do and what they can’t do within their position. Their screen will (hopefully) guide them through a logical process flow in the same way you might expect a conversation to flow with a customer. (We all know that the level of technology available will differ considerably from business to business).
They will have been “trained” to show empathy, establish a rapport and create a positive experience amongst many other typical customer service attributes that are required for the position. They will then be monitored to make sure they are delivering the service expected and in line with the company policies and processes. And in doing all of this, it demonstrates that to the boss, that they have the capability to do their job.
Great. If we didn’t know how to DO our job, we’d be in trouble. Doing the job is one thing – but doing it well, consistently, is another. We know we have the capability to deliver great service, but do we have the capacity to deliver great service every single time.
But to do that – we have to be on top form. We need to be able to take every single customer transaction with the zest that we had with that very first call.
So delivering customer service is far more than simply whether we are trained to do the job or not. How we are feeling at any given time will influence the type of service we deliver. That’s often why we see inconsistencies across the service. People know how to deliver the calls, but they may not have the capacity to deliver their calls.
Morals vs Business Process
Whilst employees are paid to complete a job, it doesn’t mean it is easy, neither will they always agree with the processes they have to follow. Inevitably, there comes a time where an employee is faced with a “difficult customer” (I hate that term but it’s one we’ve come to use). Someone who is angry, frustrated, annoyed, rude or even abusive. Most will have a policy for dealing with those types. But then they may also talk to someone who is struggling in life, maybe even struggling to make their payments, who can’t afford to put food on the table for their children. They may have someone cry whilst they try and battle through their own feelings. The agent is then faced with a moral dilemma, following a business process and their own morals on the situation.
Even with a policy in place, it doesn’t mean that an individual isn’t emotionally affected by the experience.
And therein lies the challenge with Customer Service – we know how to do the job, but we also need to know how to manage the emotions of the job.
The formula is simple – the less stressed or emotional exhausted we feel, the more energy we have and will naturally put into delivering outstanding customer service.
If enhancing the wellness of call centre agents and helping them to develop the behavioural capacities they require to cope at work could lead them to delivering the consistency of service, optimising the experience for the customer and being productive for longer, surely it’s a no brainer?
It’s all about the bounce
Resilience in its broadest sense is the ability to “bounce back”. To be able to effectively deal with the ups, downs and challenges. Resiliency is the individual’s capacity to respond and deal with what is happening in life. In a work capacity, this may mean dealing with tough workloads, difficult calls and challenges that work situations may create.
“Resilience is arguably the most vital skill that we need in customer service”
Resiliency is the missing ingredient to delivering exceptional service. Without it, it’d be like forgetting to add the lemons to a lemon sponge cake and wondering why on earth it was just a bland, stodgy mess with no flavour. It’s the icing on the cake, the garlic in the garlic bread, jam to the doughnut, the mince in the cottage pie.
Developing resiliency can yield great benefits for business. Developing resiliency in individuals, helps to be able to deal with the demands that are placed upon them, especially where those demands might require them to be dealing with constantly changing priorities and heavy workload.
What should you be doing?
The ability to cope with pressure, adversity and uncertainty relies on developing behaviours, thoughts and actions. It is about learning habits and creating strategies that help to increase resilience.
So, it’s time to invest in developing the resiliency of your front-line staff as a priority. If you haven’t delivered customer service training yet, have it combined with customer service skills and resiliency as a package.
What else can you do? Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t underestimate the effect of mindfulness – it really helps to regulate stress. There are some great apps and access to mindfulness activities online that you could make accessible round the office.
- Mindfulness is practical and effective in decreasing employee stress, whilst improving resiliency and work engagement, thereby enhancing overall employee well-being and organisational performance.
- Allow time off the phones after someone experiences a difficult challenge like a call. Don’t expect them to be able to “jump” back into it without just taking those moments to reset.
- Detachment from activities, even for a few minutes can help to reset energy and attention.
- Develop flexible working arrangements for employees. There is a lot of focus on this area at the moment and for good reason. It’s great for helping develop resiliency.
- Create an open communication platform where people are able to talk openly about the challenges they face. Gathering feedback helps to monitor the pulse of the team and utilising employee feedback helps to drive leadership focus and attention into the area. Problems can be pinpointed quickly and addressed. It will also help to determine motivation techniques that are needed.
“Resiliency should be ordinary not extraordinary”
It’s a critical skill for any front-line staff.
Contact [email protected] who can help you develop your Customer Service & Emotional Resiliency training.