Why Is It Important for Your Customer Support Agents to be Happy
It’s well known that if someone is an excellent fit for a support role, they are empathetic and kind to those around them. As empathetic people, support employees tend to take on the emotions of all of the customers1 that they talk to. Not only that, but as people trained in detecting and responding effectively to emotions, support people may even be prone to their own feelings being deeper and more intensified2. It’s incredibly important to pay attention to what is happening with your agents in terms of happiness, life balance, the things your company culture offers to them – in short, overall agent wellness. Your support team is responsible for putting the oxygen masks on everyone, but they need you to help them put theirs on first.
The Importance of Agent Wellness at Work
“92% of customers say that an agent’s mood affects their experience. A tough statistic to ignore!” says Murph Krajewski on Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken3. If your customer support agents are in a bad mood, that mood permeates to everyone around them, including your customers. Imagine, if you reach out to a company and the response from the agent looks like this:
You’d probably be disappointed, right? But, if you received something like this, you’ll probably feel respected and relieved.
Your customer service representatives’ enthusiasm rubs off on your customers. So, it’s important for them to stay happy. Similarly, we spend 40 hours of our week (if not more) at work—wouldn’t you want your employees to feel happy about where they are spending a majority of their time? HBR writes4 that people who are happier at work aren’t just more productive, but they are actually driven to be more engaged in their lives outside of work and achieve a better quality of life, overall.
The Wheel of Self-care
While a lot of work can be done by your company to ensure that employees are happy and content, there are some things that they can do on their own to find balance both within and outside of the workplace. One of the more useful tools for determining the best practices for personal wellness on an individual level is the wheel of self-care.5
The wheel of self-care is useful because it gives six segments that people need to hit in order to have a successfully balanced life, namely, professional, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and personal. While your company is certainly responsible for helping on the professional level, there are many ways that you can support your agents in the other five aspects of self-care as well.
For example, you can provide them with benefits and flexibility they need, to see a doctor whenever required, or provide them with religious holidays off so they don’t feel a lack of spiritual care, as that may be important for many. No matter what, pointing your employees in the direction of the wheel of self-care is an excellent way to get some knowledge built around some of the things that they themselves can do to feel better.
But if you want to do more beyond advocating and promoting the wheel of self-care, there are some specific steps you can take within the workplace, to help promote wellness and happiness amongst your support team.
As was mentioned above, benefits can be a great way to support professional wellness as well as agent wellness outside of the workplace. If you provide benefits of health, vision, and dental (especially if you’re in the US) you take a huge burden of stress away from employees. Some other companies offer benefits like healthy in-office lunches, monthly happy hour parties and other things to help promote a feeling of fun and joy within the office while still providing tangible features, like food. Happy employees are 20% more productive6 than unhappy ones, so it’s in your benefit to provide your employees with the benefits they deserve and need, to have a healthy and happy life.
The Happiness Index writes “Put simply, if your people don’t view work as a chore, then they will work harder, make fewer mistakes and are more likely to become advocates for your brand.” While you hear things like “work-life integration” or that work-life balance doesn’t exist, it merely means that the company responsible wasn’t willing to work hard enough to create the balance.
The best way to create work-life balance within your company is to make it part of your culture and lead by example. Have all of the managers, executives and other individuals in positions of power work a reasonable amount of hours each day, leave and be away from official communication except in times of urgent need. Make plans so that everyone is able to communicate when they will be unavailable and what the best way to reach them is in case of emergency. By having these plans in place across the company, it gives every single employee in your organization the permission to take time and be away from work. This is an invaluable gift to your employees’ happiness.
Opportunities to Give Back as a Team
While some people might not think so, the wheel of self-care says that 74% of employees say that their job is more fulfilling when they have opportunities to make a difference7. For many companies, this looks like a benefit that allows people to take off one day a quarter to go volunteer. For others, it could be something like the whole company getting together to give back on an offsite trip. Sometimes, companies do both. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you are providing employees with the opportunity to give back, ideally around their team members.
Working together to give back to a community brings people together and makes them feel like they are making a meaningful impact, that is in tandem to the work that they do.
An Open Culture of Communication
Creating an open culture of communication where people are able to speak up and talk about what is bothering them is a great way to promote happiness in the workplace. According to Columbia Business School8, it helps to decrease opportunities for frustration to bubble up and also promotes the idea that it’s okay to talk about things that don’t feel good or might be frustrating.
This is a huge initiative to tackle if you don’t already have it built into your culture. So, starting from a small scale might be the best way to go. Start talking about it in your one-on-ones, then in your team stand-ups, and then if the company as a whole is on board with the initiative, you can bring your town halls into the mix. The more people you get talking, the better. That way, the communication and willingness to receive and provide insights will permeate through the company, rather than just through the support team.
Everyone is in relentless pursuit of happiness. If it was easy or could be bottled and sold, much of the world’s problems would be solved. While we don’t have an answer to those particular issues, we hope the suggestions above can assist you in making an impact on building a happier support team and a happier company as a whole, wherever you are. The wheel of self-care is an excellent guide for you and your employees, for simple steps that will make a more integrated and happier environment. Besides, it will have a lasting impact on sustaining agent wellness over the course of time. Win-win! 🙂
1 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-freedom/201602/10-traits-empathic-people-share
2 – http://mhprompt.org/2017/10/02/dangers-of-grief-in-the-tech-industry.html
3 – https://hyken.com/amazing-business-radio-show/amazing-business-radio-murph-krajewski/?utm_content=buffere4074&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
4 – https://hbr.org/2014/11/being-happy-at-work-matters
5 – http://www.olgaphoenix.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/SelfCare-Wheel-Final.pdf
6 – http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Social-Market-Foundation-Publication-Briefing-CAGE-Are-happy-workers-more-productive-281015.pdf#page=9
7 – https://blogs.volunteermatch.org/volunteeringiscsr/2017/05/16/why-employee-volunteering-is-about-more-than-team-building/
8 – https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/articles/node/1746/10-ways-to-create-a-culture-of-open-communication