Customer service is brutal sport. Whether over the phone or in-person, customer service reps are at the mercy of the customers that walk through the door or dial their extension. To be effective, they need every advantage you can give them.
And happy customer service reps equal much happier customers. So, if you’re wondering how to make their lives a little better, here’s what they’re thirsting for.
1. Technology that is buggy, slow or unreliable.
I can’t even begin to tell you how common this problem is. Pennywise and pound-foolish CEOs love to open their tech needs to multiple vendors – going with whatever set of puzzle pieces creates the cheapest “solution”.
Unfortunately, the end result is a hodgepodge of mismatched hardware, software and peripherals. Because the customer isn’t interacting directly with the workstations your customer service reps use, this is often the most neglected aspect of corporate technology.
And your employees feel the grind every time they power on their machines.
But, alas, there’s hope!
This may come as a surprise, but IBM is one of the biggest supporters of purchasing Apple products for their employees. Why? Macbooks and iMacs offer a near perfect marriage between hardware and software. The former Microsoft vendor has jumped ship, experiencing significant gains in employee satisfaction, hardware reliability and a sharp decline in trouble tickets.
2. Cloud-based resources that are slow to respond or out-of-date.
And workstation reliability goes far beyond the hardware sitting on an employee’s desk. As more and more platforms move to the cloud, the quality of the servers that companies rely on becomes even more important.
One of the pushbacks I hear about migrating to a better server is “We’re not sure which ones actually deliver truly superior performance.” Thankfully, there are dedicated nerds out there that love stress-testing computers, servers and data centers. For example, this in-depth analysis of the five top hosting companies provides a window into how well different solutions perform under stress.
If you want employees to spend 40+ hours a week using a workstation, it better be painless and reliable. Invest in fast technology that’s designed to work together – both inside and outside of your call-center.
3. Customer service policies that reward rude customers.
Have you seen the look in the face of a customer service rep after they’ve been cursed out by a customer? It rivals battlefield shell-shock. Nobody deserves to be screamed at, cursed out of degraded by an entitled customer on the other end of the phone.
There are two things that corporate leaders can do to minimize the emotional stress that CSRs experience during their shift:
Deliver a customer experience that exceeds your customer’s expectations. Focus on quickly resolving issues and prioritize patches or fixes when necessary. Customers that have a good experience with your product or service are far less likely to abuse your support staff.
DO NOT REWARD CUSTOMERS THAT ABUSE YOUR SERVICE REPS. In the crusade to deliver an “amazing customer experience”, some leaders forget that the customer isn’t always right. Empower your customer service reps to flag customer interactions where they feel they were abused. Listen to the recording and judge the situation for yourself. If the customer was verbally abusive, it’s time to personally reach out to the customer and provide a professional, corteous end to their service with you.
By standing up for your team, you’ll find that they are far more willing to put in the long hours of faking a smile and finding new ways to delight your customers. Sir Richard Branson sums this point up perfectly:
"Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”