They are the heart of customer service: The service staff. However, finding good employees for this often unpopular job has never been more difficult. Friendliness, motivation, professional expertise, execution orientation and high quality standards are just a few of the requirements for an employee in today’s contact center. Motivation and friendliness, though, are factors that cannot be taught. These are things that call center managers must actively bring about and promote. One of the most important measures is creating the perfect work environment that service staff want to spend several hours and feel comfortable in every day. But what does this mean in concrete terms?
If we look at the real factors of influence that have an effect on workplace satisfaction in a contact center, they are divided between primary and secondary factors. Primary influencing factors have a direct and immediate effect and hit employees with full force. Secondary factors have a more indirect and subtle effect.
What are the primary factors influencing employee satisfaction and how do they work?
Direct customer contact is, without question, the most important task of any contact center employee. No matter what went wrong between customer and company: it is the employee who gets an earful – loud, mean and unfiltered. From my own experience, the greater the misery, the more unhappy the customer. In 90% of cases, however, the reasons for errors don’t lie with the service employee himself, but lie in the up or downstream business processes. In the e-commerce sector this could be, for example, late delivery or a failed reimbursement for a returned order. The service employee has to take the blame for something he or she is rarely responsible for.
Nevertheless: In case of such a negative shopping experience, it is the company’s obligation and thus that of the contact center employee to find a quick resolution and above all to avoid causing the customer any further trouble. This is the only conceivable way to rebuild trust and repair the client relationship. Easy access to a solution is essential during customer contact, which can typically be ensured only by a powerful knowledge management system.
The working atmosphere is the fundamental basis for employee satisfaction. It is shaped by superiors, but also by colleagues and by the company culture. This ranges from employee-oriented management and development to regular events and team building measures. These employee-related points are of above-average importance in the contact center area, as workplace dissatisfaction tends to be much more pronounced here than in other industries. One of the most common reasons is the enormous pressure on the shoulders of individual employees.
A pleasant working environment and up-to-date work equipment are no longer nice-to-have. Surveys show that employees are more satisfied when working with state-of-the-art computers. Equally important is software that should ideally be intuitive and easy-to-use. In addition, the working environment should offer more of a feel-good atmosphere rather than that of a cold basement.
Now that we know the primary factors, what are the secondary factors influencing employee satisfaction?
There is a direct connection between customer contact and a company’s key performance indicators and quality objectives. Calls must be answered and processed within a certain time frame and issues need to be resolved to full satisfaction – without leaving any need for further inquiries. Service level, AHT, NPS and initial resolution rate are the key parameters contact center managers and their teams are measured by. Failure to achieve the set objectives eventually leads to demotivation, as pressure on the service teams is constantly increasing. There are numerous variables that customer service has little or no control over, like the product portfolio, marketing campaigns or essential business processes.
Silent monitoring, a QA measure where telephone calls are monitored, is enjoying increasing popularity among service managers. However, it often leaves employees with a feeling of “being observed” which tends to exacerbate the above-mentioned pressure. That is why managers are well-advised to clearly communicate the intention behind monitoring. In most cases, the perceived “observation” is merely aimed at identifying and closing any potential gaps. By giving personal feedback and swiftly introducing improvements derived from the monitoring, it should be possible to change that perception.
In addition to these primary and secondary factors, workplace satisfaction in service centers is also influenced by institutional processes. There is one guiding principle, though, that can really help – one that we all know but too often ignore. It is called: Simplicity.
Processes need to be simple, especially in a service environment. This is true for both client-facing and internal processes. The more complex a process is, the more error-prone it will be, the more mistakes will be made and, by extension, the higher the level of frustration and dissatisfaction will be among service staff. Additional processes and tasks also take away from the level of attention available for customers, which is obviously a bad thing as any bit of attention directed at internal processes instead of customers is detrimental to the quality of customer service. Some examples of these distracting and unnecessary tasks are:
So, to conclude, what is it that makes customer service employees happy? In a nutshell:
Happy servicing! 🙂
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Head of Sales and Marketing
Hendrik spent several years as a managing consultant for a consulting firm that focuses on customer service, CRM, and customer experience management. In his next role he took over as Head of Customer Service at Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailer. As Head of Sales & Marketing at SABIO he is now responsible for providing the best possible SABIO experience to existing and potential customers.
Phone: +4940 851927-0