On Tuesday, I hosted a webinar called Five More Obstacles to Outstanding Customer Service.
The title was a riff on a session I facilitated at ICMI’s recent Contact Center Exposition & Conference called Tackling Five Hidden Causes of Poor Customer Service (see a conference re-cap here).
The webinar revealed five additional obstacles that I’ve uncovered through my research. Below are links to additional information on each obstacle. You can also watch the webinar here.
Obstacle #1: Too Much Feedback
We often think that employees don’t get enough feedback on their performance. A few studies suggest that employees might be getting too much!
Even worse, all that feedback is hurting their performance. The short version of the story is excessive feedback gives people too much to think about.
Obstacle #2: Fight or Flight
“Don’t take it personally,” might be the worst advice you can give to a customer service employee.
The advice is well-meaning. We don’t want employees to get into an argument with a customer or do their best to just get away.
Unfortunately, taking it personally is an instinctive reaction called the Fight or Flight response. We’re hard wired to do exactly what we shouldn’t do when we’re faced with an angry or upset customer.
Obstacle #3: Caffeine
Most of us have a caffeine habit.
One or two cups of coffee in the morning (or energy drink, soda, etc.) followed by a pick-me-up in the afternoon.
You probably already know that caffeine can be addictive. Studies show that the problem might be worse than you think. That daily caffeine habit might be the root cause of a lot of poor customer service!
Obstacle #4: Empowerment
Employee empowerment is often viewed as a panacea for a lot of problems.
The truth is not many employees are being empowered. A recent study from ICMI found that 86 percent of contact centers don’t fully empower their employees.
Real empowerment is scary. It turns out there’s a whole host of things customer service leaders worry about when it comes to employee empowerment. We ran a poll in our webinar and discovered the number one concern: consistency.
Obstacle #5: Learned Helplessness
Employees may eventually stop trying when they aren’t fully empowered.
This is a condition psychologists called learned helplessness. It happens when a person believes that any effort to change things is futile. The result is they stop trying.
Engaging employees in problem solving can help. Customer service employees love to help their customers, but they often perceive obstacles in their way. Help your employees take ownership of tough situations and you’ll see motivation soar.
Customer service isn't easy.
These are just a few of the many obstacles customer service employees face on a daily basis. You can read about ten more ways that customer service is hard in my book, Service Failure.