We won’t sugarcoat it: working in customer service is HARD. Like so hard. Like the turnover rate is more than twice the national average hard. Anyone who has worked a service job understands how challenging it is. If you haven’t worked in customer service, just imagine a never-ending line of people expecting you to quickly solve their problems and getting mad at you for things that are not your fault. Fun, right?
In all seriousness, agents are working tirelessly to meet ever-increasing customer demands while working within parameters set by a brand. One more time for the people in the back: it’s hard! It’s also essential. Agents are the backbone of customer service departments, which are integral to the success of any company. Without service reps, companies would be unable to resolve customers’ issues which would impact brand loyalty and ultimately cause a major loss of business.
Support teams deserve respect and appreciation for all they do. They’re supporting your customers so you need to be supporting them. Beyond that, you should be empowering them. Empowered employees are rated at the 79th percentile of engagement. Compare that to the 24th percentile rate of engagement for employees that feel unempowered. When you cultivate an uplifting and trusting work environment it will strengthen your brand’s relationship with your agents, which in turn will build your brand’s relationship with your customers.
Here are 6 ways you can empower your agents and elevate your customer service:
Assuming you’ve hired the right team and provided them with the training and tools they need to succeed, there is no reason why you shouldn’t trust your agents to do what they do best. Give them autonomy to make decisions and tailor experiences to each customer. Having the freedom of choice and the ability to deliver service that makes customers happy will empower your team and create a greater sense of fulfillment.
2. Reduce Repetition
79% of agents believe their skills increase when they work on higher-level customer service interactions, yet 90% of their time is spent repeating the same answers to the same questions.
You don’t know pain until you’ve had to answer “where’s my order?” or “how much does this cost?” a million times. Hot tip for all you lazy customers out there: check your email for the track order link. Bonus tip: all the prices are listed on the website. You’ll save yourself some and save CS reps some agony.
Even if by some miracle we could always count on customers to handle these types of requests, support teams would still be handling numerous other repetitive inquiries. Leveraging a tool like AI automation to take on transactional ticket types can help save agents from repetitive strain while also alleviating the pressure that comes with high ticket volumes. It enables agents to put their time and energy towards higher-level customer queries - empowering them to deliver more meaningful experiences. It’s a win for your agents, a win for your customers, and a win for your business!
3. Assign Special Projects
Provide agents with projects beyond their day-to-day task of tending to customer queries. Allowing them to apply their skills and expertise in other areas is exciting and motivating. It will reduce burnout and increase employee engagement.
Special projects can also open up growth opportunities. It can help you discover more ways for your agents to add value to your brand and identify who is ready to advance in their career trajectory.
4. Listen to Your Agents
In customer service, we always preach listening to customers. It makes them feel cared for, as it would for any human. This may come as a shock, especially to the Karens of the world, but agents are humans too! And just like any human, they want to feel heard and valued.
Employees are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to do their best work when they feel listened to, so make sure you’re hearing what they have to say. Frequently invite them to provide their perspectives, share feedback, and suggest new ideas.
By taking the steps to support your team’s mental health, you’ll create a better work environment and set your agents up for success. When we feel our best, it becomes easier to do our best. Not only will putting agents’ wellbeing first have a positive impact on the experiences they are delivering, but it’s also the human thing to do.
6. Learn from Your Agents
Agents aren’t only service experts, but they’re also experts on your customers. They’re on the frontlines; interacting with your customers daily and seeing firsthand what kind of issues they face. In addition to having a lot of valuable knowledge about your customers, your agents likely have some great ideas on how to improve policies and processes.
Invite your support team to share their insights and collaborate on ways to enhance the customer service experience. Creating space for this type of dialogue will show agents that their expertise is valued.
The tactics listed above are not one-and-done tips or set-it-and-forget-it solutions. To truly make a positive impact, empowering agents should always be a top priority. Not just during Customer Service Week or following the brutality of peak season.
Continue to invest in your team, build them up, and act on their ideas and feedback. Together you can improve service experiences for your agents and your customers.