Whether your customer service agents are focused on answering calls, responding to customers on social media or managing communication via email, it’s important that the people who represent your brand are happy about what they do. It is in fact one of the most important factors in keeping your customers happy too.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy as customer service can be a challenging industry in a number of regards. It’s fast-paced, demanding and to top it off, it can also be quite monotonous, with little recognition or appreciation. As a result, this kind of work environment oftens has a negative impact on employee productivity and morale.
Multi-skilling is the answer
To address this, businesses are looking towards training employees–both as a form of recognition and a way to break the repetitive nature of the job. In customer service teams, this often takes two forms:
- Multi-skilling on a topical level
- Multichannel training that enables reps to provide better service on each channel (phone, email, messaging, etc.).
The former usually takes the guise of training to help solve more complex problems and/or more complex customer dialogues, typically the angry or frustrated customers.
The latter sounds easy, but there’s a lot more to each channel than many people think. They carry different expectations, and more often than not companies use different systems for each channel. For the written channels, reps have to get to know canned responses in different systems and for the phone, there’s actually more training involved in being able to talk to different people and handle or avoid conflicts than most people realize.
All of this makes for a lot of different training that reps can undergo. Over time this will make them happier and better employees—which will ultimately improve their work performance and your customer service.
Let’s take a closer look at how:
It provides employees with advancement opportunities
Employees advance their careers by learning the ins and outs of their duties and responsibilities. Providing them with the opportunity for professional development and learning skills outside of their department creates a well-rounded skill set, provides a better picture of how the organization operates and develops increased awareness of the interrelationship between departments. This also grooms your employees for larger roles within the company and can increase employee loyalty.
Employees feel more productive
One of the biggest de-motivators for employees is when they start to feel stuck in their jobs doing the same repetitive tasks. Training employees to handle more responsibilities and teaching them new skills can help break the monotony of the job and make them far more productive. Especially if agents are able to provide support across multiple channels throughout the day because doing so in and of itself makes agents’ workload less repetitive.
It helps boost motivation among agents
A big motivational push for customer service agents is knowing that they have career growth options. Ensuring agents will receive training that improves their skills across multiple disciplines keeps employees from feeling stuck in a rut. Employees that feel there are opportunities for them to improve their current skill set, expand their job description or even move up the corporate ladder will be more motivated to perform at their job than those who don’t.
It helps prevent attrition
Unhappy customer service employees quit faster. Businesses lose money due to employee turnover and decrease in productivity. A constant rotation of employees quitting their jobs also affects morale and motivation. Offering employees the opportunity to learn new skills and apply them across different areas within the company can help prevent this and strengthen employee retention. Former dissatisfied employees who are now multi-skilled can be rotated between departments where their interests and skills will likely be a contribution; or they can explore new positions within the company.
It helps empower agents
Helping customer service agents to develop and expand their skills creates empowerment among employees in the workplace. It boosts their confidence to make sound decisions and work independently, reducing their dependence on their immediate supervisors. Ultimately, the increased autonomy allows them to really take more ownership of their work and outcomes with pride. You can do a lot as a manager to give them some leeway too.
The bottom line is, the happier your customer service agents are, the more productive they will be at their job and the more your business will prosper. Since many of the common struggles associated with customer service come from the monotony of the job and lack of opportunities, one of the best ways to combat this is by allowing agents to develop new skills and feel they have the opportunity to further their career.