Employee engagement is a big-time buzzword right now. Statistics show how important it is for employees to be engaged. They also show how much productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction boom when engagement is high and bust when it’s low. Experts, surveys, calculators and apps in hand, are ready to tell the story of how engaged your employees are and no group is more important in this respect than customer service.
Amidst the strategies, tips, tricks and trends, there’s one tactic that is often absent. This overlooked utility is the simplest, easiest, most accessible method imaginable: Talk to your team.
Businesses spend countless hours and dollars every year talking to consultants, customers, shareholders, executives, pundits, journalists, vendors and even competitors about the state of their industries and the organization. The people they DON’T tend to talk to are the ones who frequently have the most valuable insights: Their people. In particular, customer service representatives have an enormously important perspective on what goes on in the organization, as they frequently see things from both the inside and the outside. They are also some of the employees who can most easily become disengaged, as they are on the front lines, dealing with customers who are frustrated, unhappy and confused.
Start with simple survey questions. The following questions are a good start with your customer service team:
- On a scale of one to ten, where one is terrible and ten is amazing, how would you describe how you feel about your job?
- What are the main obstacles or frustrations you face to getting your work done every day?
- What is your favorite thing about your job right now? What is your least favorite?
- What could another company offer you that you’re not getting here that would make you want to switch jobs?
If you want to learn about the company, and not just about the employee, try asking company-centered questions.
- What one change could we make to dramatically improve the customer experience?
- If you were a customer, what would you want us to do differently?
How often should you ask these questions? That depends on what you’re trying to learn. When it comes to asking about the company and broad policy changes, probably once a quarter is enough. If you know that there are existing problems or issues, ask more frequently or when those issues are present. When it comes to getting to know your employees, taking the time to talk to them about one or more issues on a monthly or even a weekly basis is a good idea. It shows YOU’RE engaged, with them and their needs, and well, we’ve already talked about how important engagement is.