10 Effective Ways to Retain Your Customer Service Team

A strong customer service team is essential for success in any industry.

They’re responsible for helping your customers make the most of your product, and for addressing any issues or concerns — both of which are essential for achieving high customer satisfaction rates.

But as anyone who’s worked in customer service will tell you, it can be a challenging field.

Fielding questions and concerns all day can be stressful, and unhappy customers aren’t always the most pleasant to work with.

So to maintain high standards of customer service, you need to take a proactive approach to creating a positive work environment for your team.

10 Tips to Maximize Your Customer Service Team’s Retention

If you’re looking to boost your customer service team’s retention rates, these 10 strategies can help.  

1. Start with Your Hiring Process

Achieving high retention rates starts with your hiring process.

After all, if someone isn’t cut out to work in customer service, it’s unlikely that they’ll stick with a position in the field.

Stephen Covey claims that success is 20% knowledge and 80% people skills, and this is particularly true in customer service.

So as you interview candidates for your team, pay particular attention to people skills and empathy.

It’s easy to teach a relatively inexperienced employee the answers to common customer issues, and the technical aspects of your support software — but it’s far more challenging to teach the personality traits they’ll need to succeed.

2. Invest in New Hire Orientation

Once you’ve hired a new employee, take the time to give them a comprehensive orientation — with a focus on the values you want them to exemplify.

As Ritz-Carlton Vice President Diana Oreck explains, the brand focuses on cultivating a passion for the company culture at orientation.

During the two day program, “they are solely revolving around our culture, which we call the gold standards. And the reason we do that is we know that the culture creates passion advocates for our employees.”

And this approach works for the brand. Their employee turnover rate runs in the low 20s, while the industry average is 60-70%.

3. Build a Strong Company Culture

Company culture can have a serious impact on how your employees interact with one another, as well as your overall work environment.

It also plays an essential role in employee retention.

Companies with a strong company culture have an average 13.9% turnover rate, while those without average 48.4%.

Establishing a positive company culture can benefit your business in many ways — but the potential for much higher retention rates is one of the most compelling.

4. Emphasize the Impact of Great Customer Service

If employees don’t feel like their work is being valued, there’s little incentive to stay.

But given that customer service can have a huge impact on your company’s overall success, it’s not difficult to illustrate the value of your team’s efforts.

After all, most of us have had at least a handful of memorable customer service experiences, both positive and negative.

Remind your team that they have the potential to create these kinds of memorable associations with your brand.

Highlight how important they are to customer satisfaction, as well as for reaching your company’s overall goals — and make it clear that you understand the impact they’re making every day.

5. Set Aside Time for One-on-one Check-ins

If your support team seems to be performing well, you may assume that they’re happy without your help.

And that might be the case!

But it’s still worth your time to regularly check in with each member. Ask what they need to succeed, as well as any frustrations they may have.

Addressing these concerns can go a long way in showing each employee that they matter — and increase the chances that they’ll want to stay with your company.

6. Highlight Customer Service “Wins” and Achievements

If one of your employees goes the extra mile or turns a particularly challenging situation around, recognize them for their work.

This can be anything from a shoutout on Slack to a handwritten note, as long as it acknowledges their accomplishment.

Even small gestures will show your team that you value their work, and can motivate them to keep up the same level of customer service.

7. Encourage Healthy Work-life Balance

A healthy work-life balance is essential in any field — and today’s workforce knows that.

In fact, in Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, employees indicated that greater work-life balance was the second most important attribute when considering whether to take a job, beaten only by “the ability to do what they do best.”

And while this report illustrates that work-life balance matters in all fields, encouraging it is often particularly necessary in customer support, where employees may be working remotely and with irregular hours.

Make sure your team knows that you want them to have this balance, and encourage them to let you know if their workload gets in the way of it.

8. Provide Opportunities for Advancement

Even employees who are happy in their roles often look for opportunities to advance.

Glassdoor study says that companies who increased their “Career Opportunities” rating by one star were more likely to retain employees.

If members of your customer support team don’t have opportunities to move forward with their careers within your company, they may switch companies to do so.

9. Make Sure Your Team is Being Challenged

Most employees today aren’t looking for positions that are “easy.”

They want to be challenged, and they want opportunities to learn new skills.

As Christa Collins, former VP of Customer Care at Squarespace, explains “If you want to keep excellent talent, you have to provide them with a development path, challenge them, and compensate them appropriately. The development path makes sure that they can grow with you and stay with the company for the long haul.”

Look for ways to give your team opportunities to learn and grow beyond their daily tasks, and you’ll be much more successful in retaining your top talent.

10. Establish Open Communication

If the only people your employees are engaging with during their work hours are customers with problems and concerns, they can quickly become burned out.

You can prevent this from happening by providing channels that enable your team to communicate with one another.

Then, once you’ve established these channels, make sure that your team feels comfortable using them.

Encourage them to reach out with any questions or concerns, and make sure that they feel supported in their roles.

As a more senior member of your company, you may think that this a given. But particularly for new employees, asking questions can be intimidating.

Removing that barrier can go a long way in boosting retention.

Plus, companies with effective communication are 3.5x more likely to significantly outperform their peers.

So if you don’t yet have channels in place to enable communication at all levels of your company, establishing them could go a long way in helping you reach your goals.

And the more comfortable your team is reaching out with concerns, the better you’ll be able to address them — and handle any issues that could be harming your retention rates.

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