When Your Agents are Your Product, EX is a Must

Customer support organizations have it rough. Many companies have an employee turnover rate that is 2 to 3 times higher than other industries, which makes it hard to maintain a respectable level of continuity, and even harder to provide an exceptional customer experience.

Granted, we're not talking about McDonald's-level churn here, but we still need to ask the question: why do so many employees leave customer support organizations? While there are several factors in play, in large part it comes down to employee experience (or EX). Many executives and managers lose sight of a vital fact: when customer service is your company's core competency, then your employees are no longer facilitators for a product. They are the product. And as such, they need to be treated well, so that in turn they can treat the customer well.

They say that the best part of any job is the people, and the worst part is... the people. The fact is, customer support agents often deal with a lot of upset, irate, and demanding people in the course of their day (especially if they work within a complaint resolution department). It's no surprise that work-related stress can easily build within an employee, leaving him or her burnt out, exhausted, and desperate to find other employment.

This is such a common scenario that the customer support industry has a higher annual turnover rate than the waste management industry. Think about that for a second: people who literally take garbage from other people are happier at work than customer support agents! The point is, CSOs should do everything within their power to mitigate stress triggers for their employees, and make their experience as pleasant and pain-free as possible.

Here are some stats that underline the importance of doing so:

  • Only 12% of employees leave a job for more money
  • Companies with "great employee experience" have significantly higher CSAT scores
  • Organizations that invest heavily in EX gain up to 2 times more average profit than their competitors that don't invest in EX

The bottom line is, customer support organizations that take employee experience seriously will have lower turnover rates, greater customer satisfaction, and ultimately higher profits. So now the question becomes: what can a company do to provide better EX?

How to Develop Exceptional EX

In order for any employee experience initiative to really take off, it needs to be rooted in the culture of the company. That starts from the top. Of course, once company leaders really get behind the idea of EX the details of the program have to be hammered out. Some crucial components of EX include:

  • Feedback. Any EX program that doesn't incorporate employee feedback is DOA. It's only natural for employees to want open lines of communication with management. However, one survey found that at least 39% of employees don't feel appreciated at work - in part because they don't have many opportunities to express themselves to their team leaders or senior management. Providing your employees with consistent, regular opportunities to give and receive feedback will contribute greatly to the ultimate success of your EX program.
  • Recognition. We all enjoy it when others notice the good work we do, and express their appreciation for our efforts. Customer support agents are no different; a study found that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt that their managers recognized their efforts. By integrating recognition into the foundation of your company's culture through on-the-spot praise, formal accolades, or (best of all) some combination of both, you can help your employees to understand how much they are valued, and motivate them to put in their best efforts on the job.
  • Simplification. Another big detractor from EX is the lack of accessible tools and technologies to help employees perform their duties. This is a big problem across several industries, including customer support; actually, only 38% of employees feel satisfied with the tools and technologies that they use at work on a regular basis. Leveraging innovative technologies, like a comprehensive CXM platform, can help lighten your employees' workload, eliminate their UI frustrations, and enable them to be more productive.

The Impact of Employee Experience

If you work within the customer support industry, then you know for a fact that businesses face a lot of challenges when it comes to agent retention, not to mention productivity. Still, if your company invests in employee experience then you will almost certainly see lower turnover rates, increased efficiency... and more smiles on your team members' faces.

It's actually pretty simple: if you want satisfied customers, then you need satisfied employees. And if you want satisfied employees, then you need exceptional EX.

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