Here are a few hacks to increase productivity for your customer service teams that will help them push through the chaos and stress.
The holiday season is behind us and for many customer support teams, especially in e-commerce and retail, it meant busy season. Even without the holidays many teams are stretched and overworked. With growing to-do lists and even longer customer ticket queues. I’d bet that there are more than a few people wishing for more hours in the day.
However, until the day those extra hours get added, we’ll all have to work with what we’ve got. Fortunately, just because there’s limited time, doesn’t mean we can’t work a little smarter and make the most of each workday. Afterall, time is a precious commodity, that we need to make the most of no matter what time the year.
Evaluate Your Processes And Put Automation To Work
Is your team still doing things ‘the way they’ve always been done”? If so, then it’s probably a great time to re-evaluate the systems and processes in place. This includes purging all rules and processes that are no longer working (you know the ones you’ve held onto all this time but know there’s probably a better way) and simplifying things where you’re able to. There’s nothing wrong with shortcuts if they get the job done correctly!
Use tools to make your work easier
Speaking of shortcuts, we live in a pretty amazing day and age where powerful automation tools exist. Tools like Wrike, Trello, and Basecamp can help your team stay organized and on track. Automation can help customer support teams become more efficient, allowing them to focus on more important projects or tasks. Automating the mundane is not only a load off your team’s shoulders. It also ensures that things aren’t missed or overlooked. Invest in tools when and where you can but remember it’s not about having the best or most pricey tools on deck. But it’s about the tools that will work best for your team. Just be careful not to remove the most important customer service element when implementing your new processes and automation – human interaction.
Encourage More Breaks
Taking multiple breaks might sound counterintuitive if there’s have a busy day ahead. But doing so can actually help you increase productivity. Aside from the normal lunch and bathroom breaks, regular breaks can help your team become more focused. Not to mention it can help them to steer clear of overwhelm. Besides, working long hours, solving complex problems and undoubtedly coming across a difficult customer or two is a recipe for burnout.
Breaks allow us to re-energize ourselves and come back refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of our work. Even if it’s just 15 minutes. And when someone does encounter said difficult customer, it’s nice to be able to take a breather before working with someone else. Whether that be a customer or team member, and carrying that negativity on throughout the day.
Feel guilty about taking breaks?
You’re not alone because one in five employees do. However, rest assured that it’s backed by science as good for you and your mental health. So, encourage your team to go take a walk, get up and make that second cup of coffee (or fourth, no one’s judging). Sneak in a quick meditation – whatever works best to get back in the zone.
Empower Your Team
Happy employees equal happy customers. Especially when they’re engaging with customers daily, no new news there. Yet research shows that only 1 in 4 non-management employees feel engaged, happy and motivated at their jobs. Most likely due to the fact that no one is naturally bursting with happiness and excitement to come to work every single day (and if you are, please, show us your ways), and your team could probably use a little external help.
If your team is constantly stressed out, overwhelmed or facing the same issue over and over, it could be time to take a look at how things are being handled.
Value of Soft Skills
Help your customer support team to increase productivity and feel more prepared and supported by teaching them the soft skills required to work through conflict, de-stress and remain engaged when dealing with difficult situations and customers.
Also, letting your team know (with words and actions) that should a situation ever need to be escalated or they really need help, that they can count on you or someone on the management team to be there for them. If that trust in management isn’t there, that’s when people start brushing things under the rug and living in fear of the dreaded office bureaucracy. Which as you can imagine is never good for morale. After all, 80% of employees who are unhappy with their immediate supervisors are not engaged in their actual work. And if an employee isn’t engaged it’s probably safe to say they aren’t being productive.
Thank Your Team For A Job Well Done
Aside from equipping your team with the right skills, an occasional pat on the back is always nice. Someone ever said, don’t be afraid to let your team know how they’re doing! Quality feedback and in-depth employee reviews are a necessary component to keep your team in the loop and show them how to improve, but it doesn’t always have to be that serious.
An example of genuine employee recognition can be taken from a previous job of mine. We all used Slack to communicate and whenever someone did a great job, no matter how big or small, we sent them a virtual taco via HeyTaco!. Yes, it sounds silly, but it was a fun little gesture that we all enjoyed. A simple ‘job well done’ could be just the pick me up needed to keep someone moving on even the most stressful, unproductive days.
Lay Down The Foundation To Increase Productivity
There are hundreds of books, articles and even whole websites dedicated to crazy hacks to increase productivity. You could use the Pomodoro technique. Buy a standing desk, turn the office into a Pinterest masterpiece or start working from home more often. By all means, experiment! But the hacks, to increase productivity, are great guidelines for setting the foundation of productivity. And that’s what we love about them.
So, start thinking about how your team can work smarter (not harder), leave room to breathe and come back refreshed. But most importantly, let customer support know how awesome they’re doing!