In an increasingly digital economy, few barriers to entry remain in most industries. As a result, competing on price is typically a losing battle. Instead, the most innovative companies are differentiating themselves through best-in-class service experiences.
Customers are responding to this strategy, and researchers have determined that customers will pay more if an organization’s value proposition includes exceptional service.
The Connection Between Employee Engagement and Customer Experience
Delivering a quality customer experience begins with front-line employees — the individuals who interact directly with consumers. Research demonstrates that happy employees lead to happy customers, and there is a strong connection between employee engagement and customer experience.
One study determined that organizations with better-than-average customer experience scores have 60% more engaged employees than their competition.
Increasing employee engagement requires comprehensive planning, and consistent results are only possible with consistent company-wide focus.
The Role Of Coaching In Employee Engagement
Contact center coaching is one of the areas that has a strong impact on front-line customer service agents’ engagement, and it is one of the areas that most organizations manage least effectively.
Many business leaders are uncomfortable with coaching conversations, which leads to poor handling of the emotional impact on employees.
Ultimately, employees who don’t feel empathy from their managers tend to lose interest in achieving business goals, and eventually they leave the organization. Before they do, they may be responsible for dozens of negative customer experiences.
Bringing Performance Discussions Full Circle
Few managers enjoy delivering constructive feedback, and fewer agents enjoy receiving it.
However, coaching is a critical element of improved performance. Unfortunately, during the discussion, many employees are unable to absorb all of the information because they are feeling a variety of negative emotions: embarrassment at failing to meet expectations, anxiety about losing their livelihood or defensiveness over what is perceived to be an unfair interpretation of the situation.
Many managers end the conversation as quickly as possible, and they assume that additional follow-up will only serve to further upset the employee. In fact, the opposite is true.
Follow-Up Best Practices
After delivering constructive feedback, the most effective managers let employees spend a day or two thinking it through, and then they reconvene for a follow-up discussion.
In the second meeting managers should:
1. Empathize with the employee’s experience, for example saying, “I know it can be upsetting to hear that something isn’t going quite right.”
2. Take the opportunity to reassure individuals of their value and areas of strength, for instance, “You are such an important member of our team, and I notice that you have a lot of talent when it comes to training newer team members.”
3. Express confidence that the employee can be successful, for example, “We talked about the length of time you are taking between calls, and we discussed the expectations for this team. I am confident that we can work together to get this issue resolved, and I know that you can be successful here.”
4. Make an effort to preserve the collaborative relationship by reminding individuals of their availability and interest in providing support, for instance, “Now that you have had a chance to think about our conversation, do you have any questions or concerns? Is there anything that you would like to discuss? If anything comes up, or if you think of anything later, please be sure to email me or stop by my office anytime.”
Agents Want To Be Successful
This follow-up meeting is often more important to employee engagement than the original coaching conversation.
The majority of agents want to be successful, and they rely on recognition and approval from their leaders.
A constructive coaching conversation can bring these areas into question, but the follow-up can serve to rebuild self-confidence and, subsequently, ensure engagement levels remain strong.
Learn more about the tools available on Sharpen’s platform to help managers provide feedback and improve the lives of their agents here.