Customer service is about building relationships, not closing cases. It’s the human element that connects people and creates experiences that lead to loyalty.
Do you ever wonder what’s been done in all of those hours you’ve spent at work?
Have you done something meaningful?
Have you cultivated a relationship?
Have you made a difference?
Scott Eblin with the Eblin Consulting Group recently shared 5 ways that we can break out of the cycle of just doing work and ensuring that we engage with the work we do.
[These] are simple, practical things you can do in the midst of the swirl to reconnect with the idea that you’re not just a human doing [work], you’re also a human being.
Great customer service happens when you make what you do more personal, more meaningful. Because of its influence in making and keeping customers, the importance of customer service has never been greater. Customer service is about building relationships, not closing cases. Great customer experiences happen when we stop just doing service work and start being more human in our service interactions.
5 Ways customer service can be more human
Without the human element making things happen for customers, you have automated menus that create mountains of frustrations for customers and erase any sense of customer loyalty. It’s not enough to just know what is good customer service. You have to be able to deliver it in a way to enhances the customer relationship.
1. Enable workplace friendships
Research has shown that employees with strong social relationships and friends at work actually have greater productivity, can be more passionate about their work, and are less likely to quit their job.
Another survey by the Gallup organization said that of employees who not only had friends at work, but who had a best friend there were:
- 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.
- 35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality.
- 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work.
- 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.
2. Make workplaces more personal
Yoga has the term, “bring your own mat”. Yogis know what I mean by this one. It’s about wherever you are, whatever you may be doing, to stick to what embodies you, what is part of you, make your own place wherever you may be. In today’s business age, we will likely transition between different jobs or different companies every couple of years. It may be easy to just leave things be and not setup shop since we’ll be on our way shortly anyway. But making our personal space that encourages us to stick to our regular routine will have a dramatic effect on the quality of the customer service experiences we create.
3. Encourage taking time off
Do you regularly give your people a day off? As a manager I love my days off. It’s refreshing to be able to get away from it all. For me, I like to soak up the sun. I’m an office 50+ hours a week, so when I’m off from work I love to hit the beach for a vacation. On the weekends I turn to yard work. Sure, I’m not good at it, but the sun rays and hard physical labor help recharge me (and makes me grateful for the job I have during the week).
Give your people time off regularly. Don’t just let it me on holidays or the week vacation they’re entitled to by company policy. Give them a random day off, it’ll mean the world to them and they’re likely to come back more ready than ever to deliver great customer service.
4. Allow people to do something different
It takes a special person to 100% love doing the same exact thing over and over again. Day after day. Year after year. Bless those people, but I’m not one of them. Chances are you aren’t either and neither are most of your people working the front lines of customer service. This means that in order to keep people consistently engaged and effectively serving customers, they need the change of pace. Give your people the variety they need to stay connected with the work they primarily are hired to do.
It doesn’t mean sending them on workshops for days on end. It doesn’t mean expensive vacations. It doesn’t require them spending 20% of their time with another department or taking a week and working with a different group for a change. All it takes is a change in work assignment. A change in the taks. Maybe a special one-time project just for a change of pace. It may be sending them to a meeting in your place. Doing a report for you. You may even work on it with them.
When I have development update meetings I like to generally include one or two additional customer service reps in attendance in order to give them insight into what’s going on in a different department. They get a chance to see how others are working to help them be more effective. It gives them the ability to participate and contribute to something else in the company and feel like they’re part of something more.
5. Make it worth it!
When I hear about terrible corporate policies and the poor customer service people who have to somehow defend it (actually not defend, but just be a sounding board to bad management ideas), my heart sinks. How can we ever expect great customer service to happen when we shackle the people working with customers and prevent them from taking action to actually help customers?
Nothing is more frustrating to customer service agents than to, day after day, have to be yelled at, berated, and despised for corporate policies beyond their power to control. When customer service agents know that the work they do isn’t in the customer’s best interest it makes it hard to claim you’re doing the customer any real service.
As managers we need to empower our people to do more. We need to enable our people to do what is right. Customer service is powerful. Customer service is action. Customer service is a powerful action taken by humans beings caring for other human beings. Customer service is personal.