One of the most important ingredients in the creation of a great customer experience (CX) is the employee experience – how does your team feel and behave when they are at work? Do you have a truly engaged team full of people energized by the process of helping customers or are they all watching the clock and counting off the minutes until the end of their shift?
If it’s the latter, then just imagine how they sound to the customer on a call or chat. We have all experienced the agent that just wants to finish the call, even if they have not resolved your problem. How do you avoid this?
This is all connected to your corporate culture. What are the values of your organization, how do you engage your people, and how do you create an environment where people genuinely enjoy their work? Culture is not a fridge full of free Cola and a table tennis room.
There are three basic steps, but each is as important as the other:
Hire the right people
you need to ensure right from the start that you are hiring people with empathy, people that can communicate well, and people that enjoy helping others. If they hate talking to strangers and are just doing this as a summer job then you are unlikely to create fantastic CX – think carefully about who you are bringing into the team and put processes in place to help create a funnel of new talent. If your selection process doesn’t actively seek out those people that specifically match your culture, you’ll soon dilute and eventually lose your culture.
Once they are on your team, engage them. Create a fun working environment. Create awards and nominations for best performing team member or even just the best dressed. This is especially important if your team is distributed and mostly working from home – ensure they are not isolated by engaging them in activities that bring the team closer. Recognize those people who stand out or go the extra mile, or they may just stop doing so.
Live your values
True values are not just a slide on a PowerPoint deck. Live them. If the CEO doesn’t embrace the values of the company then why should anyone else? Build a set of inclusive values and then demonstrate these values – whether it’s a focus on transparency at work or helping the local community. Whatever your company is focused on, ensure that it is genuine and embraced by everyone at all levels.
I’ve been in this industry long enough to see the difference between companies that talk the talk rather than walking the walk. It’s a popular part of any sales process to talk about culture, but I think that this is one type of business where it really is difficult to fake a genuinely engaging culture.
Companies hire customer service specialists because they want to deliver a great experience to their customers. The agents become the face of that brand. If the agents are bored or unhelpful then that is immediately obvious – the customers aren’t happy and eventually the client will ask their customer service partner why the customer satisfaction numbers are so low.
I also believe that it’s easier and more impactful to create a genuine and embracing culture in smaller organizations. I know that the giants of this industry can donate cash to major charities and rub shoulders with politicians at gala dinners, but do any of these actions really filter down and influence the behavior of the agents? I don’t think so. In a smaller organization where culture is king, it’s possible to build a vision and then to genuinely embrace it – you can really live and breathe those values on the PowerPoint.
Customers are becoming more demanding. They want better service, faster, and on the channels the customer enjoys using. All this is creating a more dynamic and exciting environment. Choose the right people and keep them engaged and this great employee experience will quickly translate into a great customer experience.
Oftentimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the flash and “bells and whistles” of an organization when you’re trying to assess differences and differentiators. And because of that, we often overlook the fact that the biggest component to your success is the same as it’s always been… having an excellent one-on-one interaction between a motivated and capable agent and your customer.
Let me know your own thoughts on nurturing a positive culture inside a customer service organization and what do you think about the difference between larger and smaller companies – have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.