Agent Experience

Building Your Customer Service Team’s Morale

If your customer service team has low morale, it can quickly translate into disastrous customer service interactions. Here’s a closer look at how to address the real causes of low morale.

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Low employee morale is one of the biggest threats to your customer experience. Customer service agents have a tough job. They often work in high-pressure environments with aggressive goals and deal with a wide range of customers. They are on the front lines of dealing with angry customers and failing customer relationships. Often, these roles are among the lowest paid in the company—and may also be among the least respected. If this sounds familiar and you see that it’s taking a toll on your team’s mind-set, here are several ways to start addressing this challenge now.

Show Respect and Recognition

The business world has taken notice of the customer experience on a whole new level over the past few years. Yet one department that is often left behind is the customer service team. Although strategically it’s getting more recognition, these individuals are often overlooked at tactical and real-world levels. Don’t just say that your customer service team is critical to delivering your customer experience. Recognize it. Make sure you’re rewarding these roles accordingly. Take the time to build other departments’ respect for the work the customer service team does. Recognize its members’ contributions to the company’s larger initiatives, as well as the individual successes of each representative. Only when you cultivate a culture of respect and recognition can you expect to get the best work from your customer service teams and managers.

Address the Compensation Gap

As we emerge from a common approach of viewing customer service as a cost center—and evolve toward seeing it as an essential node in a customer experience economy—many companies have to be realistic about addressing compensation gaps. Let me give you one example. A large company I work with has the role of associate. Typically, associates have the same types of responsibilities whether they are in marketing, sales, customer service, or technology. These individuals help with scheduling, data management, events, and other important aspects of day-to-day business.

Yet marketing and sales associates were paid, on average, 30% more than their colleagues in customer service. However, as we looked closer, these individuals shared not only similar workloads but also education and work backgrounds. The compensation issue was largely a perception problem. The company established an organizationwide guideline for compensation for individuals at that level and started ensuring that customer service professionals’ compensation reflected an internal sense of equity and remained competitive with the larger market.

Make Sure Management Cares

As the old adage goes, people rarely leave jobs—they often leave managers. If your customer service manager is operating under an outdated paradigm, this can be the core of low morale among the team. The best customer service managers are visionaries. They should not only be great with your customers but also be team leaders and able to build rapport with a range of employees. Hire customer service managers who really care about their employees and are excited to dive in with mentorship, training, new technology, and new approaches to make their teams successful.

If your customer service agents are falling behind what you want them to deliver, the first and most important place to look is their morale. If engagement or employee happiness is below where it should be, it’s time to take a look at your culture, management, and compensation to make sure you’re offering