Finding Customer Service-Based Business Success by Enhancing the Employee Experience
As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series—a collection of articles written by industry thought leaders in maturing software categories—Shiela Mie Legaspi, the President of Cyberbacker, explains how companies can find customer service-based business success by enhancing their employee experience.
If you work in customer service, you may have heard the adage: “The customer is always right.” But in today’s business world, that bit of wisdom may be up for debate, though one thing is sure: serving customers can be challenging.
For leaders whose employees are on the front lines of customer service, there must be extra attention paid to the well-being, happiness, and engagement of those employees. Anyone who has ever encountered a surly customer service worker can tell you how off-putting it can be and how it can sour someone on the entire business altogether. Leaders need to understand that unhappy employees make for unhappy customers, and unhappy customers will not keep one’s business afloat.
So, how can a service-based business leader or owner enhance their employee’s work experience, in turn making the customer’s experience better? There are several approaches to consider, each specific to a service-based business model.
The Special Case of the Service-Based Business
Many service-based positions—such as food service, retail, or delivery—can be deemed thankless. The hours can be long, the customers can be less than forgiving, and the pay can be low.
These factors can cause employees to experience burnout faster than most non-service-based careers and create a higher turnover. Leaders who want to fight against low retention statistics, especially in the wake of the Great Resignation, need to have a plan to engage with these employees regularly, show appreciation for their work, and make their workplace somewhere they are happy to be.
How to Enhance the Employee Experience
Making a service-based workplace a great place to work starts with the hire. Many service-based workplaces that are customer-facing are dealing with high rates of turnover and may believe any employee is better than none at all. However, suppose you are not thoroughly vetting applicants for their customer service skills and overall customer-facing abilities. In that case, you’ll likely leave the relationship disappointed—and down an employee.
Empowered employees deliver
One of the biggest gripes in the customer-service field is often the lack of autonomy among staff, who frequently feel micromanaged by their supervisors and managers. If you are vetting your hires and hiring people with a talent for customer service, trust them to take on complex customer issues, come up with solutions on their own, and be creative within their roles. This trust allows employees to feel empowered within their roles and see a path to growth within the company and in their careers.
Hear them out
Your customer-facing employees have a direct line to your customer base. They hear the good, the bad, as well as the ugly. They also know about the inner workings of the day-to-day organization operations. Employees want to feel that they will be heard by leadership if they have ideas, suggestions, or even concerns. Leaders who make it known that they will listen to their employees and consider their opinions and suggestions are more apt to gain the trust of those employees.
Rewards and recognition
In many customer-service jobs, there is an outdated state of mind that the pay is the reward. Amidst record resignations, organizations can no longer afford to have such an outlook. Employees want to be recognized for a job well done and rewarded for going above and beyond for their company’s customers. Business leaders can create incentives for employees who go the extra mile and recognition programs that allow employees to earn extra money or time off.
In a customer service-based business, good customer reviews should be especially important and rewarded. This not only improves employee morale and satisfaction with their work but also improves their overall engagement at work.
Encourage rest and self-care
Because there can be such a high level of burnout in service-based industries, employers who wish to cultivate a great work culture and happy employees need to encourage rest and self-care for their employees. Employees are not going to be satisfied (or good stewards of customer service) if they are worked to the point of exhaustion.
Many service-based businesses, like waiting tables, can mean hours on one’s feet and long hours full of non-stop busy work, so it is essential within these environments to recognize the work the employees are doing and give them opportunities for rest. Providing stable opportunities for PTO, robust benefits, and breaks to unwind during busier shifts are all markers of an employer who values employee rest.
Business owners want their customers to be happy, and a lot of time and effort is put into tapping into what the customer wants, but your most significant asset remains your staff. If business leaders remember that happy employees make for happy customers, they are more likely to see a return in the success of their business and their bottom line.