This Post Originally Appeared on CEPro.com on January 25, 2017
Customer service teams interact with frustrated clients, at odd hours, during emotionally-charged moments. Here’s how to prevent burnout and keep your service team happy and productive.
Providing great customer service requires that someone is available for your clients right when they need you. Unfortunately in our industry, this is often on nights and weekends when our clients are at home (and so are we).
Unlike the project side of your business, where demand can be met during “normal” business hours, the ’round-the-clock nature of client services can put a great deal of strain on you and your employees. When combined with the emotionally charged nature of many service incidents, burnout is always a very real concern.
Here are five steps that you can take right away to reduce the likelihood of burnout for you and your team.
1. Consolidate Communications
The first step is to set up a dedicated support phone number and email address for your clients to submit requests. By setting up these dedicated channels, you can make sure that the workload is evenly spread through the company using a rotating on-call schedule.
Phone calls can be managed either by using a dedicated cell phone that gets handed off according to the on-call schedule, or by using a modern phone system which allows you to create preset forwarding schedules.
A distributed phone system, such as RingCentral, has the added benefit of protecting the privacy of employees by keeping their cell phone numbers private and protecting the company’s flow of information if/when employees transition away.
Responsibility for fielding emailed support requests can utilize the same on-call approach by using a dedicated and shared inbox for centralized management. Even better, a dedicated support email can be automatically routed into a ticketing system, which we highly recommend as it helps immensely with handling support requests in a collaborative manner.
2. Condition Your Clients
Setting up these dedicated channels is only the first step. Once they are in place, you must notify your client base and condition them to use these new channels.
Acclimating your clients to these new modes of communication requires prompt and consistent responses to 100 percent of their support requests.
If using these dedicated support channels does not yield reliable results, your clients will immediately revert back to directly contacting their lead technician, programmer, salesman or company owner. The last person your clients should want to call is the boss.
These after-hour requests on a personal cell phone are a surefire recipe for employee burnout.
However, once your clients perceive the dedicated support channels as the path of least resistance to getting great support, they will naturally gravitate towards using them.
3. Define and Manage Expectations
It’s critical that you set and maintain clear expectations with your clients regarding the days and times they can expect to receive prompt support. At OneVision, we are firm believers that this support should be available to clients 24/7/365. In fact, providing this ’round-the-clock Instant-Triage is the central tenet of our service product.
However, we understand that providing 24/7 support may be impractical for every integrator. Regardless of your hours of service, the most important thing is that your terms are well defined.
Clients hate playing guessing games when it comes to whether or not they’ll receive support. And employees will benefit from an unambiguous understanding of what is expected of them during their on-call shift.
4. Sell Remote Troubleshooting Hardware
The single quickest way to burnout within a service team is to constantly be rolling trucks or spending unnecessary time walking a client through a power cycle exercise over the phone. This is why we should ensure that remote troubleshooting tools are in place whenever possible.
Falling prices on remote service management (RSM) products (such as Ihiji, Domotz, OvrC and Krika), as well as their associated licensing fees, have made them easier than ever to sell regardless of the budget.
Additional tools such as remotely re-bootable power outlets should also be part of your troubleshooting solution for all critical devices.
These various troubleshooting tools, should be proactively marketed to old and new clients alike. Thoroughly penetrating your client-base with these tools is one of the best ways to avoid burnout stemming from your service efforts.
5. Hold Your Project Team to High Close-Out Standards
Poor execution on the project side of the business is another large contributor to service team burnout. Inaccurate documentation, missing login credentials, unlabeled or messy wiring, and other issues all make service much more difficult (but not impossible!).
By ensuring that your project team is held to high standards, you can free your service team from undue tail-chasing.
This will greatly improve their efficiency by reducing friction points and overall stress while providing your clients with the best possible experience.
There are many unique challenges to setting up an effective service team. Chief amongst them is the need to avoid burnout. Service is a very demanding job and often requires interaction with frustrated clients at odd hours during emotionally-charged moments.
It is important to implement strategies that help maintain a healthy work-life-balance for your whole team. By setting up dedicated channels for this service demand, spreading the workload evenly, having the right tools in place, and ensuring high standards on the install, you can minimize the likelihood that burnout will take hold in your business.
Are you a business owner or service manager? Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out this post as well – The Key Ingredients of a Successful Service Team.
There are plenty of articles in our blog that you might find helpful. Or even better, use the contact form below if you want help taking your service and RMR efforts to the next level!