To get the most out of your customer service team, you need the members to feel like they have the authority to make decisions independently, without asking a supervisor for guidance every step of the way. Empowerment of your customer service reps will lead to a better customer experience, increasing customer retention.
Given how critical it is to provide solid customer service, it is important to understand what employee empowerment is and the steps you can take to make that empowerment happen for your customer service team.
Employee empowerment, on an employer’s or manager’s part, is ensuring staff members feel some sense of freedom to get their work done on their terms, rather than asking for permission every step. In other words, it’s when employees have some autonomy.
Empowered employees get to play a role in making important decisions for the business. For them to feel empowered, though, they need to have all the resources to successfully complete their jobs without help. These resources include both knowledge and tools. You need to give your employees the necessary tools to physically complete their jobs and enough training to feel confident that they know how to handle most of what they’ll encounter.
“For us [at our company], employee empowerment comes through engagement,” said Christy Lobst, chief parent officer and general counsel at Colugo. “Ensuring that employees connect with our mission is a key first step. Then, we give them the tools and confidence to always respond to customer questions in a way that furthers our mission.”
Employees are empowered when they aren’t micromanaged and have the tools and knowledge to complete their jobs.
The importance of empowering your customer service team ties back to reaching your company goals. But why should your customer service team members go above and beyond to help you make more money? Sure, wanting to keep their jobs could be one reason, but if every employee does good work instead of great work, you’ll miss out on a greater return on investment. Operating a business is about more than money – it’s about people too, and empowering your customer service team can help you keep your people happier – employees and customers alike.
These are the main benefits of customer service team empowerment:
Micromanaging employees is time-consuming and not always possible for customer service teams who need to handle a constant stream of customer inquiries. When employees are empowered, they feel free to do their jobs properly by addressing customers’ inquiries as they come in and also feel good about owning the process.
Customers who have a problem don’t want to be put on hold with long wait times or bounced from agent to agent. They want the person they’re speaking with to address their concerns. Empowered employees can take care of customer issues without asking others for help. The quicker a customer service rep can resolve a customer issue, the happier that customer will be.
If the rep leaves the customer on hold while they ask their superiors what to do or the customer keeps getting passed off to someone else, they will probably leave the encounter far from satisfied and take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, a skilled and empowered service rep could turn an angry customer into a happy one who would be glad to continue giving you their business.
It boosts employee retention. When your employees feel empowered, they are more likely to stay with your company. A LinkedIn study found that there is a 47% chance of employers holding on to employees who feel they have influence in the workplace for longer than three years. Companies viewed as less empowering only have a 35% chance of employees sticking with them for over three years. High employee turnover often looks bad to customers, especially ones who speak to your customer service team often and have built relationships with them.
Empowerment of your customer service team can result in a number of benefits, including higher customer satisfaction and employee retention.
You can do several things to empower your customer service team, some of which only cost you your time. Here are a few tips to get started.
Not having the right tools can make doing business difficult for anyone. There are many customer service tools that can make service reps’ lives easier:
As your products, services, and policies evolve, it will be important to keep your customer service reps updated on all the changes. While your customer service team does not need to know the ins and outs of all your products and services like your sales and marketing teams should, they do need to be trained enough that they can assist customers accordingly and know how to solve both common and unique problems without always asking for help.
Some industries require employees to take ongoing professional development courses. Even if your industry is not one of them, offer employees the option to take professional development classes paid for by your company.
Several training programs are specifically for customer service reps, many of which are free or cost less than $100 each. Consider these resources:
To support your customer service team, you must listen carefully to them. When talking through problems with them, don’t interrupt them or think about how you will respond before they are done talking. To ensure you are on the same page, try rephrasing their message in your own words and asking if you understand the issue correctly.
It would be best if you also showed appreciation. Let them know when they are performing well. Thank-you emails or even a handwritten note when an employee handles a difficult issue particularly well could go a long way. If you don’t already have an employee appreciation program in place, you may want to consider starting one. Such programs are structured to ensure employees are being recognized for their hard work.