If you manage a customer service team, then we don’t need to tell you how important quality service is for a company’s bottom line. American consumers expect customer service teams to acknowledge questions, complaints, or feedback promptly—and they’ll take their business elsewhere if this isn’t the case. In contrast, consumers will be loyal to brands that respond to all queries in a timely manner, operate on transparency, and otherwise invest in building customers’ trust and providing a positive customer experience. Moral of the story: A lot hinges on your customer service team.
But customer service can be demoralizing work. (Just ask anyone who’s been berated by an angry customer.) So it falls to managers and executives to develop a culture that motivates the customer service team to stay invested in their work and strive for positive customer engagement. Creating this culture will pay off in spades: Research links employee engagement to company profitability, employee retention, and customer satisfaction. Here’s how to inspire your customer service team.
Nobody knows what motivates a given employee better than that employee. That’s why it’s essential to regularly solicit feedback from employees about what works, what doesn’t, and how positions can be improved. Equally as important? Listening with an open mind. Employees need to know they can speak honestly without fear of recrimination (in fact, that’s another core component of motivational workplaces).
When career site Glassdoor surveyed more than 2,000 people about what motivates them at work, the top answer was overwhelmingly “appreciation.” When employees feel appreciated, they’re more likely to go above and beyond to do their jobs well. Inspire employees by focusing on praiseworthy actions and consistently recognizing jobs well done.
There’s nothing more demoralizing than knowing you could do your job better if only you were provided with the appropriate tools. Give employees everything they need—from high-speed internet to functional customer databases, high-quality computers and phones, ergonomic desk setups, and a pleasant workplace—to do their jobs well. If you’re not sure how to set up the ideal workplace for your employees, solicit their feedback. It may also be helpful to spend a day or more working alongside your team. This will give you invaluable insights into what they’re working with and the tools they could use to do their jobs more efficiently.
Motivation starts to wane when employees feel stagnant. In contrast, when employees are presented with regular opportunities to learn new skills or increase their knowledge, they’re more likely to feel motivated at work. It’s a win-win: Employees feel like they’re advancing their careers and gaining new competencies, and employers benefit from the application of this new knowledge on the job.
Assigning team members to spearhead larger projects or step into leadership roles can grow confidence and cultivate a sense of accomplishment that’s highly motivating. (One caveat: In order for new responsibilities to feel good to employees, it’s essential that you provide them with ample time to accomplish these projects without feeling overwhelmed.) Likewise, empowering employees to make decisions while communicating with customers can free their minds to think creatively and problem solve effectively, which can make work feel more fulfilling.
Sure, inspirational quotes can often be a little corny. But posting them in the workspace provides value. It helps serve as a daily, visual reminder of the team’s core values and mission—and that can be incredibly galvanizing, as it helps reinforce the sense that everyone is on the same team, working toward a common goal. To get started, choose from any of these inspirational customer service quotes.
Punishing employees for failures on the job and micromanaging employees’ time are two of the biggest motivational buzzkills. Trust your employees to do their jobs without a manager breathing down their necks, and work to build a culture where failures are viewed as an opportunity to learn, not punish.
All the motivational strategies in the world won’t keep your employees engaged if they’re consistently on the edge of burnout. A good manager knows that employees perform best—and remain more motivated—when they’re not overwhelmed and overworked. Review team members’ responsibilities on a regular basis to ensure that no one is overloaded.
As a manager or executive, you set the organizational tone from the top. That’s why all of these tactics to motivate your customer service team hinge on modeling these strategies along with the principles of fairness, consistency, and a positive attitude. But none of these strategies should be used as a Band-Aid solution for financial exploitation; pay your employees what they’re worth. When you consistently carry out these motivational strategies and compensate your service team handsomely for their efforts, that’s when the customer service magic happens.