As humans in our personal and professional lives we are regularly in situations that can be escalated. “Can be” is the key statement that should be considered. We are either the customer or the professional in either scenario.
As an agent in the call center industry, there are many opportunities to improve communication. This industry is mentally draining and can be deadly. Customers don’t consider there is another human on the line trying to do their job. The agents take calls back to back. It can be a demanding career. In such high stress environments, illnesses such as high blood pressure, anxiety disorder, and heart disease are common. It is important to find opportunities to refresh and provide excellent service for each caller.
To recover from the last call, you must have a strategy in place. This ensures you are prepared for every interaction. Here are some important tips:
Similar to life interactions, the un-expected will happen in your professional life as a call center agent. After your initial introduction is when the customer must “have the floor”. Always make sure you listen after you introduce yourself, this will allow you to assess the situation. Simply, take a breath and become the answer to their question. This will give you confidence and the customer respect.
When I decided to embark in the corporate world in my 20’s, I figured if I just display that I am articulate and smart this will be a snap. I was wrong. Apparently, there is this unspoken rule that black women must stay within a medium of: not too happy, not too sad, never angry, and always willing to be the team player (even if the team does not want to play).
I have walked this fine line for 20 years. I have found I can never be fairly judged based on the negative stereotypes given to black women. This is what I do know about myself:
Many companies are already understanding the importance of accepting all races, genders, and age ranges. These companies are enriched with diversity and a range of experience and skills that further grow the company. If an employer wants to take the necessary steps to understand how individuality leads to true diversity they need to eliminate stereotypes. Many opportunities can be missed by not understanding the negative effects of stereotyping.
This new segment will specifically be labeled on a page titled “Opportunities for Excellent Service”. When you see this title, the content will include a review of one of my many adventures or research trips. The goal is to provide an objective view of the experience. The information will have facts about the experience, my personal feeling on the experience, and what could have been done differently (if anything at all). The company name will be listed; however, employee names will be left out for purposes of anonymity.
This past week my husband and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. Due to personal medical issues, the goal of the trip was to remain in stress free environments that allowed the opportunity for rest and health monitoring. The trip started with a short cruise and ended at the Historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa. (http://www.missioninn.com/)
The Mission Inn is near and dear to us since we renewed our vows at this location 12 years ago. We have stayed at the property 1 other time after renewing our vows. We were familiar with the beautiful property and amazing guest service. On this stay however, something different happened.
The true opportunity for excellent service is something I talk about in other blogs when it comes to setting the customer expectation. If the hotel was going to dismiss the incidental deposit policy that is listed on their website and on their front desk counter, they should have advised me correctly. This changes my willingness to order room service at all.
It also appeared the front desk manger was not trained correctly in some manner on how to address incidental holds in relation to incidentals charged to the room. When the agent heard me, and acknowledged that there were already holds on my account, he should have followed standard hotel policy to release the holds or allow the charges to settle. If he was not aware how to do this he should have waited for senior management to assist.
This does not change my view of the property and how amazing the grounds are. I would still recommend this property. I will however work with management to make sure this does not happen to any other guest. This is just another opportunity for excellent service.
We tend to be selfish human beings with this expectation that everyone should be in a special charity that develops and helps us personally. It is not possible for everyone to make you feel great all the time. It can be a slap in the face when you try to move forward in life seeking the support from friends and family only to find out they do not support your goals.
It is more important that we develop each other and give life to our goals and dreams more in this generation than ever before.
When you talk to people about what's new or important to you, there is an expectation of overwhelming support. Instead you are given a weird look and an underwhelming response. This can be deflating.
It is helpful to everyone's success to provide helpful information or necessary criticism. If you can't provide that, give feedback that lets the receiver of your information know that you may not be as informed as you need to be. As a result, you truly can't provide feedback. There is nothing wrong with this.
Let's work together to breathe life into our goals. At the end of the day we want to succeed. We can succeed if we have the right support and the right information to succeed.
Healthy competition in the workplace is a good thing. At the same time, too much competition with no rewards can have a negative impact on the morale of employees. The negative morale of too many employees can create negative results for customers. It is important to add positive balance to work environments in which competition is inevitable such as sales conditions.
To create an inclusive environment in competitive environments, allow a relaxed environment. Adding fun games and employee spirit prizes create an alternative to the work competition. Many companies include community events and team sports to create a fun environment outside of the office. This creates a positive company morale.
As an employee, it is important not to be frustrated by any losses a competitive environment may create. The goal is to win together as a team. Employees can add to the positive and inclusive environment by staying actively positive. If there are concerns that may appear to create a negative environment have a strategic meeting with a supervisor on how you both can create change together.
Companies can only win as a team. Competition is inevitable. If your team is not on the same page with the business goals, you have already lost. Create reasonable expectations and challenge employees to exceed these expectations. Employees are willing to compete if they know they are winning as a team.
Companies are uncomfortable with employees who ask too many questions. It's just this simple: If you ask me to jump off a bridge with you as an employee, I'm willing to do it. I just want to know why we’re jumping off the bridge. I need to know is it worth it for me to jump off the bridge. I want to know will I have a parachute. I want to know what's going to happen when I get to the bottom. I am asking questions because I want answers.
This seems like extreme reasoning when comparing an employee asking questions to jumping off a bridge, however employers become nervous of employees who ask too many questions. This puts them in a predicament where they must talk about their processes and policies. There may be many reasons why companies want employees to follow directions with no question. One thought is most of the processes and policies have been in effect so long, no one knows why they exist. In addition, it may be costly to make changes. Either way, this should not be such a negative experience for the employee.
Employees are not robots and should not be treated that way. Employees who ask questions actually want to be invested in the company. It should be a positive experience to have employees ask questions. This does not make the employee a negative person. They just want to know more.
It shouldn't be complicated answer the questions. Don't be afraid of the employee who asked the question. This may be the employee who can help take your company to the next level and point out something that is failing in your infrastructure. Companies should not be intimidated by the employees who ask questions. If you answer the questions correctly the employee may be willing to jump off the bridge for you and with you provided you answer the questions they ask.
Common sense coaching makes the difference between a positive and negative work environment. Particularly in the corporate environment. There should be a balance between coaching and improving the employee morale. There is no value to providing negative feedback to employees and leaving them feeling diminished. The employee can place the negative energy back into the customer experience. The goal at the end of each day of the positive feedback from customers since they provide revenue. If you provide negative feedback only, this is a 50% to 90% cut in revenue to your company. This is huge.
Coaching is as simple as this: provide feedback that improves the customer experience. It is neither positive or negative. It is constructive and based on the perception of the person receiving the feedback. It sounds complicated, but it is simple. The fewer adjectives, the better to explain how the employee can improve. Provide directions and point of reference. As a coach, it is important to provide the reason why based on personal knowledge. This is complicated for supervisors or managers who have never worked in the field, yet have been hired based on networking or education. I feel every supervisor, manager, or VP needs to humble them and understand what the employee does to coach appropriately. Employees take coaching seriously from someone who truly understands what they are coaching.
Management teams have an opportunity to provide feedback that provides direct results to the company revenue. It is important to look at the opportunities to build an employee up and give them direction to excel in their position and even grow with the company. This is just common sense.
Watching one of my favorite TV shows, the narrator made a statement that described communicating fearlessly. The lead actor in the show went to visit his father after not seeing him. He made many visits to him trying to negotiate in his mind how he wanted to resolve his feelings. On his final visit to see his estranged father, he made the decision that he was going to tell him exactly how he felt regardless of how it made him feel. It was now the narrator made the profound statement “The worst thing said, is saying nothing at all”. This dialogue described the feelings that the character would have had he left without opening his heart to lift the burden he was holding in for so many years.
Communicating with others is a strategy. We all want to be heard. We all have stories to tell and emotions to express. We also want to represent how successful we are. There are opportunities where we need to leave nothing behind. It is just important to know when it is appropriate.
Technology has changed the way interviews are done. Most interviews are now done on the phone or another form of technology. In the new interview process, this means you don’t have the opportunity to see expressions or show the future employer your best look. As you are answering the questions, avoid rambling about things that do not showcase your most important attributes. Provide as much information as possible about your experience that relates to the position. When asked is there are any questions or comments, do not be afraid to ask questions about the position. One of my favorite questions to ask “how do you like working for this company?” Don’t forget to express your gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to interview. If there are any details about education or experience you think are relevant, share them. You can’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
We must learn to communicate with no fear. Communicating with no fear is a vital component in our social lives as well as our careers. When you do this, you will be able to network successfully and see doors open that you would have never dreamed would open.
Many companies place stock in employee tenure. Employees can work in a front line position for 12 plus years before being considered for another position. At the same time the recruiting process is designed to search for recruits eager to grow with the company. This becomes counterproductive for all parties involved. This depletes the morale for existing employees and new employees.
Time and tenure should mean absolutely nothing when it comes to growing a company and being open to fresh ideas. Companies should be willing to continuously seek the perspectives of all employees equally. This can be the game changer to being competitive. There are several ways to open opportunities for all employees to be part of the success of the company.
Having town halls or gathering in which management talks about the company can be intimidating for employees. However, establishing programs that seek the perspectives of all employees can be effective. These programs should address where the employee wants to be with the company in the future and how the company can help them get there. This can be done with supervisor one on ones or with a company HR website that builds profiles based on the employee information.
Employees should effectively be aware of all opportunities available with the company. They should be reaching out for network opportunities. Build a network of peers, managers, and mentors within the company. Take every opportunity to let your ideas and perspectives be heard. This can help provide opportunities for growth.
It is time to look outside of the box for company growth. Employers need to change the way they provide opportunities to employees. The opportunities should be equal all employees. This is just another way to build employee morale and create an inclusive environment.
The focus on employee morale is neglected by many companies. Employees are the driving force revenue, yet employers take employees for granted. When companies take the time to change the way employees feel about the company, the customer experience will improve. This has a direct impact on revenue. Employers need to find solutions for employee morale. Employees need to be willing to contribute to the experience.
As an employee it is important to ask yourself “am I doing everything I can to add to the positive morale in my company?”. Employers need to be in the mindset of always providing solutions for improving employee morale. This does not always require money. Supervisors can schedule and complete positive one on one meetings with employees. Regularly scheduled team meetings that provide insight and clarity to the company goals that can put everyone on the same page. It is just the little things that show employees are more than just a number. This and many other things can create a positive employee morale.
If you are the owner of the company, you should be comfortable with knowing how each employee feels about the company. It is an opportunity to create a positive experience that can benefit all parties. There are popular TV shows that allow owners and CEO’s to understand frontline employee concerns. This experience does not need to be on TV. Owners and CEO’s can take the time to learn the job functions of all departments and understand any frustrations employees have. It is about creating positive experience and everyone needs to be part of this experience.
As an employee, if you feel awkward in a work environment regardless of how positive it is it may be time to go. It is just as much an employee responsibility to be part of the positive morale in a company environment as it is the employer. Try being part of the things that are positive about the company. If the company is still not a good fit, find the right environment that works for you.
The average working American spends between 25 – 40 hours per week in the work environment. It is important that work life balance is a priority. Part of the work life balance is creating as many positive moments in life as possible. This is healthy for the mind, body, spirit and soul. Do everything you can to be part of creating a positive work experience. Only good things can happen from being persistent in this conquest. Focus on creating the true positive environment. The benefits are endless.
Juanita Espino B.S. Comm., M.A.Ed.
Communications Consultant and Professional Advisor