Customer Service

How to Inspire and Motivate Your Team for Better Customer Service

September 15, 2016
12:00 am

“The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.”Nail. On. Head. Thanks, Richard Branson, for those wise words.Every organization should embrace the benefits of having a happy workforce. It’s when the magic happens.But who is responsible for creating this?Look no further than the top brass. The onus is really on them to create the right company culture, one in which employees feel consistently motivated. Out of this culture comes truly great customer service.Fortunately, the equation is simple enough to remember.Happy employees = Happy customers.Here’s how to do it:

1. Draw on Theories

Take them, put them into practice, and watch as they are brought to life.Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsFormed in a 1943 paper called the ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’, Maslow believed humans have five basic categories of needs in life, and that they fall into a strict hierarchy, each one building on the one before.They are:

  • Physiological: One’s need for food, water, and all the very basic stuff.
  • Safety: One’s need for job security, good health, and family wellbeing.
  • Love: Friendship and family.
  • Esteem: Confidence and respect from the workplace and peers.
  • Self-Actualization: The freedom to think and create.

Represented by a pyramid, physiological needs form the base, with self-actualization forming the top.That’s all well and good, but how can an organization make use of this?Let’s take a look:

  • Physiological and safety needs are met through proper remuneration and the guarantee of a stable job.
  • Love and belonging come from both relationships with colleagues, as well as with the organization itself.
  • Esteem and self-actualization are also within reach, given the right opportunities and freedom.

The benefits of meetings these needs are felt by both employee and organization alike.But getting there all depends on how you treat your staff. Get it right in terms of pay, trust, and autonomy, and you end up with a motivated workforce. And guess what? A motivated workforce serves customers more effectively. Maintain this enthusiasm among employees and the organization will reap the benefit.

Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y

This theory comprises two different approaches. Theory X is based in managerial assumptions that employees are lazy and avoid work. Employees need to be carefully monitored and punishment dished out to make sure the work gets done.

Theory Y offers a rather more optimistic viewpoint. With the freedom to create and work on ideas, employees will return the good faith by adding value to the company.Companies ultimately have a choice on which approach they adopt. Theory Y is, of course, a preferable state of affairs. Customer service agents handle all sorts of situations and need to be trusted to do this effectively.Maintaining excellent customer service means enshrining an approach that keeps the employees happy and motivated. Fail to do this and agents may find their initial excitement at the prospect of helping others wain after a few months in the job.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg made a distinction between factors that increase job satisfaction and those that decrease job dissatisfaction. Offering a higher salary may decrease job dissatisfaction, but that’s no guarantee that job satisfaction will go up alongside it. To achieve that, a company must address an entirely different set of factors.

So how does that apply to an organization?Motivating employees means addressing both hygiene and motivation factors. It’s no good just removing things that bother employees, you have to focus on nurturing the positive too. Whilst creating the right conditions and pay for employees forms a solid base and minimizes dissatisfaction, without looking at ways to recognize good performance and offer the chance for personal growth, an organization will never get the most out of their employees. A robust culture of autonomy and learning is needed for employees to achieve their full potential.

2. Provide the Right Tools

Without the right tools, your team can’t work effectively. Truly great customer service is only possible when they have modern systems and technologies at their disposal. Inadequate resources will demotivate even the best employees.To create a competent support system, tools like Customer Relationship Management, where your team can easily manage customer data, information, and the interaction process, need to be in place.Live Chat software like Acquire allows the support team to interact with customers in real-time, doing things like co-browse, screen share, video chat, text chat, audio record, and file share, reducing turnaround time. With the freedom to solve issues using their own intellect, employees are motivated to serve clients in a faster, more efficient way.

3. Appreciation and Encouragement

Remember the role esteem plays in Maslow’s and Herzberg’s theories. Give people a pat on the back when they deserve it. The recognition helps to motivate.Feedback is there to let employees know how they are doing. If they do something wrong, they need to know. Equally, management must give credit when credit is due. Good feedback is an important vehicle for enhancing morale. Use a bit of encouragement to pump up deflated employees when required. Guide them with positivity!A strong relationship between employees and managers, based on understanding and recognition, breeds confidence in each other. This confidence creates a happier workplace. The best customer service comes from an atmosphere where efforts and results are recognized.

4. Manage workload

Even a motivated workforce with access to the right tools will fall flat on its face if the workload is not correctly managed. The proper balance and distribution of resources are key. It’s no surprise that if you put too much work on one pair of the shoulder, they will start to sag.Burnout is costly to employee and organization alike and should always be avoided.Try the following:

  • Delegate effectively, spreading the workload.
  • Make sure staffing levels are adequate.
  • Set appropriate goals.
  • Ask for feedback from your team to establish what they are comfortable with.
  • Appoint the right person for the right job.
  • Create suitable timelines.

5. Set Clear and Realistic Goals

More than 60% of employees feel they waste time on low priority work, simply because they are unaware which work has higher priority. Avoid this by setting smart and realistic goals, aimed at fulfilling the company’s objectives. Organizations are more effective with goals in place. Design them to be measurable and realistically achievable, so employees feel motivated to reach them.Reaching goals requires alignment between the organization and the employee.Keep in mind when setting goals:

  • Goals should be clear, specific relevant and achievable.
  • Goals should be measurable.
  • Goals should be time specific.
  • Goals should keep the profitability of the company in mind.

Take regular stock of the situation as you go move towards goals. This way you can avoid any nasty surprises, allowing adjustment along the way.

6. Encourage development

Give employees the chance to focus on developing their skills. By creating cultures that nurture employees, you will benefit by retaining their talents. How about setting aside 10% of their time for personal or professional growth?Investing in learning and development programs for your employees helps to foster a learning culture, and, in turn, encourages knowledge sharing. Both employees and organizations stand to benefit. Arranging training sessions, incorporating current market news and the latest technology, will help you stay ahead of the pack.

7. Motivate through rewards

Show appreciation for employees. Praise them openly for successfully achieving their goals. Reward them for hard work. After all, they deserve it. Their success is your success. This could give them the little boost they need to perform better.Research shows that 81% of employees are motivated by being shown appreciation. Rewards could take any form, gift coupons, taking the employee out for lunch, or a bonus. From this, they will be driven to achieve even greater things in the future.So…Keeping a team motivated is no easy task. But, if you play your cards right, then you will enjoy the benefits of a team brimming with confidence and enthusiasm. Happy employees mean better customer service, positively affecting brand image and ultimately increasing sales.


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