Happy customers mean happy employees
I have been preaching to my clients for years that what happens inside an organization is felt outside by the clients. When it comes to the world of customer service, it’s often expressed as, “Happy employees mean happy customers.” I had the chance to interview Baker Johnson for Amazing Business Radio. Johnson is the CMO of UJET, a cloud contact center solution that helps its clients deliver a better customer experience. When we brought up the subject of employee focus on the customer, he called me.
It’s not that he disagrees 100% with me, but he said we need to look at this from a different angle. When a customer has a problem and needs to call customer support, they are already frustrated. And what often happens next can make it worse: long wait times, multiple menus that require you to press 1 for this and 2 for that, and anything else that creates friction about how to talk to a live agent.
By the time the customer finally connects with an agent who wants to help, they’re even more frustrated. This is not fair to the customer or the agent, but more importantly to the agent who now finds themselves in a situation compounded by the process and friction the customer had to go through to finally speak to a live person.
Johnson said, “Very few people start out by saying, ‘I want to work in a contact center and make customers happy.'” a second job to supplement their income. They are decent human beings who prove to be good at taking care of customers, and the next thing you know is 20 years later and they are a manager or supervisor.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the common path or not. What matters is that these good people end up in a job where they are not as valued as they should be. The exception occurs when the companies they work for become customer-focused. This is happening more and more as organizations realize the power of the customer support service and how it contributes to a better customer experience (CX).
Johnson notes that many companies focus their investments on sales and marketing departments. This is where they saw the most revenue generated. Smart companies see the opportunity to make the right investments in the world of customer support, as well as other areas that directly impact CX after the sale.
It’s not just about hiring and training the right people, although that’s a big part of it. It’s also about investing in the right solutions that provide both customers and agents with the best experience. The result is that when customers have a problem, they become confident about the support they will receive from the company. When they do finally speak to an agent, they aren’t bothered by the process, which fuels their frustration with the company before speaking to the agent. With the right process supporting the right people, the result is customer retention, customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
I’ve been saying for years that the department that handles customer questions and complaints shouldn’t be called customer service or customer support. A better name might be customer retention service or revenue generation service. If the agents are doing their job well, the customer will know they can call with any questions or problems. If the company supports agents with up-to-date technology and a great process for the customer to contact them, with little to no friction, they have better customer conversations that drive future business.
That said, Johnson points out that many customer support organizations say the right things, using terms like customer centricity, but if you ask front-line practitioners, they admit they always look at KPIs that are internal. and operations-based, such as average handle time or efficiency, versus metrics that measure customer results. Moreover, their companies are not properly investing in technology that serves both customers and employees.
So back to the original concept. While we should focus on employee happiness because research indicates that happier employees will interact better with customers, we might want to consider the point Johnson makes when he says, “Happy customers make happier employees. The happiness he refers to is what the customer experiences in the process that leads to connecting with a live agent. If it’s easy and convenient, the customer is relieved and even happy to be able to connect without the friction associated with calling customer support.
Make the right investments in the customer support department, create a process that’s better for customers and employees, and recognize that those investments, like those made in sales and marketing departments, have a return on investment in the form of dollars from future revenue and repeat business.