Today’s attrition rates are high in the hectic and intensely demanding world of customer service centers.
Organizations who can retain its top performers can not only save millions in direct replacement costs, but can also side step a downward cycle leading to:
- reduced intellectual capital
- decreased productivity
- lower service levels
- tarnished brand status and reputation
To help combat these consequences by trying to motivate employees to stay, companies continue to invest in reward and recognition programs, but the problems remain. Why aren’t these programs working, and what can be done to improve the turnover dilemma? The answers may lie in the following five success pitfalls and remedies:
Pitfall # 1: Vague Vision and Values
Experience shows that failure in the organization’s staff reflects failure at the top. Senior management must articulate a clear and compelling vision and values and ensure they are consistently demonstrated in all of the organization’s activities—from hiring practices to customer contact policies to its performance management system.
Remedy: Develop and Share a Unique Service Vision and Values
Collaborate with your service managers and associates and build a two‐part vision that includes a) why customers love to do business with you, and b) why employees love to work at your company.
When everyone’s voice contributes to the vision, aspirations, hopes and ideals will align, and employee engagement and loyalty can increase.
Pitfall # 2: Mixed Messages from Management
Who comes first – employees or customers? For an organization to excel with customers, it must first excel with its employees. Too often, management’s policies for customer treatment vary greatly with how its own service employees are to be treated. People live what they learn. How a company treats its service associates will always reflect in the quality of its customer service.
Remedy: Model and Reinforce the Message
Model the desired behavior and continually send clear and consistent messaging about the organization and how employees are contributing to its success. And, continually provide consistent reinforcement and coaching to allow successful service‐oriented attitudes and behaviors to take hold.
Pitfall # 3: Inadequate Training
Employees want and expect opportunities for personal growth and development. Studies rank training near the top of benefits that employees value, and also shows employees are three times more likely to leave if a company does not provide job‐related training. Limited or poor training has other consequences including a potential lack of product knowledge or interpersonal skills needed to build and strengthen customer relationships, lower customer satisfaction ratings, and even lost sales.
Remedy: Commit to Developing Your People.
A comprehensive and ongoing training program sends a strong signal to your people that says “What you do matters and we’re willing to invest in you.” Developing stellar performers to raise service quality and make a great impression on your customers every time will far outweigh the development investment.
Pitfall # 4: Hiring that Backfires
Working in a customer service center is not for everyone. It’s fast-paced and stressful. Many companies often don’t deeply consider the many “fit factors” for call center jobs. A GartnerGroup study revealed that supervisors wished their companies did a better job of screening candidates to reduce mismatching. No company can afford the far reaching and potentially destructive impact of a new hire who quickly dislikes their job, and becomes toxic.
Remedy: Get the Fit Right the First Time.
Clearly define the attitude and competencies for the service position, and create a screening process to to find the right fit. Conduct the initial interview on the phone and structure it as a real-life service call scenario. Include questions that reveal if the candidate has a natural service mindset, can perform routine tasks, and demonstrate their experience in a structured, time‐sensitive environment.
Pitfall # 5 Conflicting Measures and Rewards
Recognition and reward are powerful motivators. So why don’t they always work? What matters is first having consistent performance standards and measures that everyone in the organization understands and agrees upon, and then rewarding performance that directly relates to those standards.
Remedy: Set Concrete, Specific and Measurable Standards.
Be sure everyone understands what “exceptional” service looks and sounds like. Develop and use a common language and create a consistent methodology for evaluating and rewarding individual and team performance against these standards. Ensure that everyone in the organization understands and acts in a service focused manner and is recognized for doing so.
Stay the Course
As effective as these remedies are, the most critical action is to stay the course to maintain momentum. Becoming an exceptional service culture takes time. Transforming attitudes and behaviors is an ongoing, improvement process that should be embedded in your business process and culture.
For over 30 years, Communico has trained thousands of customer service associates, and helped companies worldwide deliver service they can stake their reputations on.