Providing around-the-clock customer service is proving to be a challenge as companies shift their processes in response to digital trends. The “always-on” culture of consumers, largely created by social media and real-time updates, has now translated into 24/7 customer service expectations for the majority of industries.
In fact, research shows 43 percent of consumers who go online looking for help expect a response within an hour. Unfortunately, responding to hundreds—or thousands, depending on the size of your company—of inquiries in a day can lead to stress, decreased productivity and burnout.
Use the following ideas to help mitigate this burnout, allowing your customer service team be effective without being overloaded.
Treating your employees well is one of the best ways to get them to treat your customers well. Companies who consistently rank in Forbes 100 Best Companies to Work For have caught on to this and, in turn, also provide unmatched customer service. The idea: to better serve the people who serve the customers.
Not to mention, showing employees appreciation is one of the quickest ways to reduce burnout. In a 2016 Office Club study, 66 percent of respondents who reported being “totally satisfied” with their job strongly agreed that management rewarded job performance.
Figuring out how to best serve and appreciate your employees can help reduce the burnout that comes with the “always on” nature of customer service jobs. A few simple ways to show appreciation to your employees include:
Start half-day Fridays each week—a different group of employees can take a half day each time, so you’re not down an entire customer service team each week.
Offer paid lunch once a week, giving them one less thing to worry about.
Set boundaries and processes for dealing with angry customers, so one person doesn’t take the load all on their own.
One of the quickest ways to frustrate employees and customers is not having a reliable and consistent process in place for handling customer inquiries. Delivering an inconsistent digital experience—whether that occurs while switching between platforms, devices or customer service representatives—makes it harder for employees to work quickly and efficiently, leading to frustration and burnout.
To reduce stress, focus on a way to improve the overall experience, making the life of your employees easier, in addition to streamlining the customer experience. The best way to do this is to take ideas from the customer service team, who works in this arena every day.
Pose this question: If you had a tool that could do anything you dreamed of, that would make your job easier, what would it do? Look for a tool that fits the criteria and already exists or consider building a proprietary dashboard or platform that fits those needs.
Technology provides numerous channels for customers to connect, communicate and engage with your brand. Unfortunately, many companies are not yet prepared for this type of customer service, citing that their current technology doesn’t support it (25 percent) and lack of budget for investing in a management service to streamline the process (18 percent), according to SmartInsghts.
This is what leads to burnout—your customer service employees have to find and manage their own workflow, moving from one platform to the next quickly and regularly. One simple way to avoid this problem, without spending money on a new program, is to split your customer service team into platform-specific departments. Think: Facebook customer service versus email versus Twitter, etc.
Secondly, create a workflow using the tools you do have, making it easy for your customer service agents to share issues and work together between platforms. Work with your current CRM provider to add new features at a fraction of the cost of an entirely new program.
Reducing customer service burnout in a digital work can be a challenge for business owners and leaders. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you can to make it better. Consider how you can show your team greater appreciation, perfect the multi-channel process, and systemize workflow—with less stress, employees will be happier and healthier.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She's been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she's not working, she's enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.