Customer service jobs are not easy. Support agents have to face angry/frustrated customers, but have to ensure they don’t lose their cool, and are patient and empathetic at all times. On top of this, there are other challenges like collaborating with internal teams who aren’t always quick to respond, and adhering to strict service level agreements(SLAs) and daily targets. Not surprisingly, the hectic nature of the role can lead to fatigue and demotivation. Their productivity takes a hit, and they often find themselves feeling unsure about what they’re doing.
We’ve already spoken at length about what agents can do to be more productive at work. In this article, we’ll look at how support managers can ensure their employees are working in a healthy environment.
Monotony is one of the biggest factors that contributes to demotivation in customer service jobs. To prevent support agents from feeling the blues every Monday morning, ensure you create a happy work environment. This can include simple things like rotating employee shifts to give each agent the choice to work in a timezone they prefer. You could also introduce something fun like gamifying your support process and keeping track of the top performers through a leaderboard.
The way support managers interact with their team also plays a critical role in building team spirit and maintaining a healthy work ethic. Regular one-on-one check-ins with employees are a must, and they shouldn’t be all about work. Managers must be willing to have more personal conversations with their team to check if they are in the right mental space. They must also be receptive to feedback and should be willing to make changes if something is not progressing in the right direction. For example, if one of the support agents in your team feels that he/she is being bogged down by long working hours, you can ask them to take a break or a paid vacation for a few weeks, so that they spend some time away from the office to get rejuvenated. It’s important for support managers to always encourage their team to speak up and ask the right questions. Only if the team feels cared for will they be able to perform to their fullest potential.
Support agents who have consistently been top performers might want some extra recognition for their hard work. Most support teams today have reward programs where the top performers get some kind of incentives to feel recognized. The incentives can either be monetary or in the form of words of encouragement. Managers can organize reward programs to give trophies and arrange additional cash benefits for employees who have surpassed their targets in a particular month/quarter.
However, one needs to be careful while implementing monetary incentives. Support agents who haven’t performed as well as the others shouldn’t feel left out. Managers should have a word with them to instil positivity and the drive to perform better.
A couple of years down the line, no one from your team should feel like their growth has stagnated. You should give them complete flexibility to explore options both within the customer service function and outside of it. For example, some support agents might want to make the transition from customer support to customer success, as they believe they are capable of sustaining a good relationship with the customer. Some might want to put their product knowledge to use in sales and marketing. Some might want more senior positions within customer support, say the role of a regional manager. As a leader, you should not hold your team back when they are looking for a change. You should chart a plan out for them based on where their interests lie, and help them weigh the pros and cons of transitioning to a different role. You should also be able to do the required knowledge transfer to the employee’s new manager so that their relationship starts off positively.
Your team would love a helpdesk that automates the boring bits of their job and makes them feel more productive. Some of the features that you should look for in a support solution to make life easier for your team are:
Gamification – Gamification can take the monotony out of customer support, and make it more interesting and fun. When agents are competing to stay on top of the leaderboard, they get an incentive to up their game and deliver their absolute best. Helpdesks like Freshdesk, in fact, support gamification natively, so managers can implement a fun work environment right from their support system. You can choose to award points for a variety of metrics like the number of tickets resolved, resolution SLA%, and more, and easily keep track of the top performers.
Real-time dashboards – Dashboards display your team’s critical support stats in real time. Using Freshdesk’s in-built team dashboards, you can create customizable widgets to stay on top of all that’s happening in your helpdesk. You can present these dashboards on the whiteboard or TV, and allow agents to take note of their performance and know exactly what they’re doing well and where they need to improve. Dedicated widgets like Customer Happiness and Today’s Trends can help teams see the impact their support has on the business as a whole and motivate them.
Intelligent automations – Repetitive tasks like the prioritization, categorization, and assignment of tickets can be handled by your helpdesk, so agents can focus their efforts on solving the more important problems. When agents don’t have to waste excessive time doing these little things, it frees up their energy and makes them feel less worn out.
Canned responses – A large chunk of support questions are basic how-tos about your product that new customers tend to ask. This means a large inflow of tickets which are all extremely similar in nature. If your ticketing system allows canned responses, agents can simply create them for different situations and keep them handy whenever they encounter the same problem. They can insert the canned response with a click of a button, leading to a productivity boost and less time spent retyping the same replies.
Happy employees make happy customers. And for your employees to stay happy and productive, you need to create a culture which gives them the freedom and flexibility to be themselves. Rather than micro-managing and excessive nitpicking, support managers should ensure they communicate properly with their team, identify where the bottlenecks are, and keep the morale high.