My Personal Experience in Building a Positive Environment
I have been working in chat support for over 3 years.
As many might know, working in customer support is stressful and requires to maintain a high level of concentration. To stay sane experiencing pressure every day seems to be the main goal at the beginning of a customer support career.
In most cases pressure fades away after some time and routine is taking over. Still, this work isn't easy and it’s definitely not a good fit for everyone.
In today's post I would like to share my experience and ways to make work in customer service enjoyable, or at least less hard. Besides that I want to point out why happy employees are super beneficial.
1. Communicate to build team spirit
If people are physically, mentally or emotionally uncomfortable in the office, they're unlikely to be successful or satisfied with their jobs
Shannon Gausepohl, Business News Daily
For me, it is all about the communication at work.
Of course, you could put on your headphones and encapsulate, but that isn't the way to go in a long run. In customer support, communication is key not only between the customer and the employee.
As a support agent you need to be up to date and in contact with your colleagues. The support room at LiveChat is by far the loudest place in the office. Besides making bad jokes we communicate a lot regarding issues and customer requests. This way team members share their findings or solutions with the rest which is valuable for all.
Despite its ease at use, to have all features, use cases, customization options and integrations at one's fingertips requires some time and effort. Learning all this stuff and understanding it won't be possible by simply reading articles and use cases. Cooperating and asking others for help is essential and has to feel natural.
The golden rule in your support department should be: if you don't know something, don't be afraid to ask.
This needs to be communicated by team leaders and managers. Making an insensitive comment about someone asking a “dumb” questions have to be prohibited. There are no dumb questions. If you fail to do that, some employees will prefer to provide wrong information to customers because they fear to be laughed at for asking a question.
Such communication is only possible with the right mindset. As a manager and a leader you can’t expect your employees to communicate in a cards-on-the-table manner when you don’t play by such rules yourself. Be a role model and show your employees how to do it right.
Start by telling them what changes you want to apply and encourage them to be part of the transition. One on one meetings are a great way to get feedback and to make employees feel appreciated which motivates them to take an active role in the process.
And don’t forget, a fluent and barrier-free communication is beneficial for the company.
20% of the time is spent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues for help.
Keep that figure low and you will have a more effective team.
2. Be a part of the team and grow with it
Now lets focus on the team.
Cross-training and introducing additional projects fitting best to the particular employee are a great way to involve people in your company. They will feel more important and you may gain someone new for a position you otherwise would have to hire for. It’s easier to estimate if an employee you already know and work with for a while will get the job done than employing someone completely new.
This clear sign will show other employees it’s worth doing more than just what they are expected to. I would call that positive motivation, employees are not forced to take a bigger workload if they don’t feel the need or don’t have the time. Those who do have a real chance to show what they are capable of.
Managers need to understand that if there are different roles in a team, employees should be assigned to the matching ones and not all. It doesn’t make sense to teach everything to all if there isn’t such a need.
A diverse team can outperform a top performing, homogenous group by up to 6 times!
I'm lucky, working with funny, passionate people. They all have their hobbies and various interests. We always have something to talk about. Whether it's a new recipe or the massive hangover after Friday's party, it never gets boring.
It's important that communicating freely with colleagues isn't prohibited in any way. It provides some sort of positive distraction which lets you quickly forget about an unpleasant customer. You could say that communication of all kind is helpful in this environment. Don’t forget about common sense though, when it’s time to pick the phone or a chat you don’t wait because someone is telling a joke and you don’t want to miss the punch line.
A warm and collegial atmosphere can be beneficial in many ways. Employees help each other and can even start to work in teams to solve issues quicker and such cooperation will increase the knowledge of all involved.
3. Even small benefits have a huge impact
LiveChat introduced a nice pack of benefits that not only prevent employees to leave but also keeps them happy.
All employees at LiveChat are covered with private health insurance. Only 9% of the Fortune's Best Companies provide employer-paid health insurance which is quite a pity when you look at the positive aspects.
Besides feeling appreciated and not thinking about leaving, employees simply are healthier which improves productivity. They will take advantage of the insurance if needed and won’t wait till something gets really bad. Because that’s the moment real problems start for both, employee and employer. Long leave of absence and low productivity are only 2 things you may want to prevent.
Other benefits at LiveChat can be found in two drawers in our kitchen, packed with delicious things like nuts, chips, chocolate, dried fruits and much more. Of course, these drawers could lead to obesity and that’s where another benefit comes in handy. We received a card called “Multisport” which allows us to use any kind of sport activity in our town for free or with a nice discount.
It's also the small things that make doing customer support at LiveChat enjoyable. The most basic one is food. I know, you may think, what has food to do with improving the workspace? Well, we at LiveChat enjoy 2 sponsored meals a week. On Mondays, we get soup, salad, and the main dish, and on Fridays, it's "Pizza day". Both occasions are great to talk, relax and to get a break from our everyday tasks.
As the owner or manager, you need to see the bigger picture.
Providing such benefits definitely pays out. There is nothing worse than letting unmotivated employees handle your customers.
4. You don’t have to be a manager to change the work environment
Most things mentioned earlier require to be initiated by managers and/or team leaders, but operators can still make a difference. It's the little things that make the whole experience simply better!
For example, when you're going for a coffee, ask your colleagues if you can get something for them. The famous "sharing is caring" also applies to the workspace.
Sometimes we bring cake, cookies or something else to share. We even made a small donation box for one of our support heroes who loves to bake! So every now and then the support room is filled with the beautiful smell of fresh, homemade cake. Wouldn't a soft and delicious brownie brighten your day?
Why caring for your employees definitely pays out
Some of you might think “this is one of those idealistic posts not possible to implement and too costly”.
But LiveChat is a live example that it works! We have benefits and a fantastic atmosphere. Our customer support heroes are motivated and always ready to save the customer’s world. Our statistics prove it, for 2016 the customer satisfaction was 96%!
To understand that caring pays out, you only need to do your math. Unhappy employees will leave you and replacing them is a hassle. The cost of replacing an employee can be 6 to 9 months’ salary on average, depending on the position and skill set. Some studies predict even higher costs.
Don’t forget about the time a new employee might need to achieve the same level of knowledge and handling speed, the employee you just lost had.
Happy employees on the other hand will improve and provide better customer support which results in happy customers and they are your best advertisement. Selling to an existing customer is easier and doesn’t require the same effort as gaining a new customer.