It’s likely that your company is one of the 93% of businesses whose executives say that improving customer service is one of their top priorities. But does your support team feel like they are the company’s top priority?
Probably not, because even though they are directly responsible for one of the most important business functions, many – if not the majority of – customer service agents feel inferior to other teams in their company.
That doesn’t add up, does it? If you want your support team to deliver outstanding results, they must feel valued.
#EmpowerCustomerCare brings attention to the feelings of inferiority that show up in customer service. It’s an article series, a movement, a mindset, and a new way of building and leading businesses. Show your support and contribute to the community:
- Share your stories with the hashtag #EmpowerCustomerCare,
- Join the discussion in the global online CX community Quality Tribe,
- Let your customer care team know how much they matter.
That’s what this article is all about: here are seven easy ways how you, as a support manager, can stand for your team and empower them.
- Talk about feelings of inferiority: Though it might sound trivial, opening a discussion about self-worth can change your team dynamics. Let your support reps know that they are not alone in this.
Ask about your agents’ feelings in your next 1:1 meeting. Create individual goals and strategies to help your team members overcome their feelings of inferiority. Check in on them regularly.
- Watch for signs of feelings of inferiority: agents who can’t handle criticism or who tend to beg for compliments for everything that they do probably don’t do it out of arrogance or high self-esteem. On the contrary, many people who struggle with feelings of inferiority tend to overcompensate for their emotions differently (read more about the signs of inferiority feelings in customer care).
Be aware of how your agents react to different situations and try to understand the underlying reasons for their behavior. Talk to your team members when something worries you.
- Remind your agents about the impact they’re making: people who suffer from feelings of inferiority think that they perform worse than (most of) their colleagues and feel bad about themselves because of that.
Reach out to your agents and tell them how their achievements impact your customers and your business. Do it regularly.
- Build career paths in support: customer service is often a stepping stone to other departments like product management, engineering, or marketing. But it doesn’t have to be.
“Support at Intercom isn’t a career stop gap. It can be a stepping stone to other departments/roles, but we’ve built a team where a long and successful career can be fostered within Support. Many teams provide limited progression (agent → supervisor → ceiling) and experience high turnover, which leads to poor support. Who wants to continuously lose their best people to other teams?!” explains Ruth O’Brien, Senior Customer Support Manager at Intercom.
Becoming an excellent customer service agent – or manager – can be an exciting career path on its own. Encourage your reps to explore these options.
- Voice the issues in your company: Keep in mind that it’s often not the agents’ insecurities that cause feelings of inferiority, but how they perceive other people’s attitudes towards them and their jobs.
Talk to the execs, managers, and team leads at your company. Let them know that the way they and their teams treat your support reps affects their mental well-being. This can, in turn, have a negative impact on their productivity and motivation, leading to poorer overall performance.
- React immediately: whenever you encounter a situation that could potentially make somebody feel less valued, take a stand. Confront the people who are putting your support team down, and talk to their managers, if necessary.
Rooting out behavioral patterns that recreate feelings of inferiority in customer service is the only way you can solve this problem once and for all.
- Advocate for your team: share your support team’s successes with your colleagues. This will help them understand the value that your agents bring to the company and appreciate their work’s importance.
Be the biggest fan of your customer service team. You’ll be surprised how fast others will follow this positive vibe. #EmpowerCustomerCare
Start working on your agents’ mental well-being and see how this changes your team dynamics and results. These seven action items will help you get started on building strategies to eliminate feelings of inferiority in customer care.
- If you’re not sure whether your team thinks they are less worthy than other teams, see if they show any of these most common signs of feelings of inferiority in customer service.
- Help your agents help themselves with these guidelines for handling feelings of inferiority in customer care.
Pay attention to your team’s mental wellbeing. Feelings of inferiority are more common in customer service teams than most of us are willing to admit. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Let’s open discussions around feelings of inferiority in CX communities and help each other overcome these problems for good. Check out our previous posts in the #EmpowerCustomerCare series:
Customer service agents bring massive value to all businesses, let them know how much they matter, #EmpowerCustomerCare.