It is no news that team culture can impact staff retention, happiness and productivity. Gallup found that engaged employees were 59% less likely to search for a new job in the next 12 months. This is especially true for Customer Support teams who are on the front-line, dealing with customer issues, complaints and queries each day. Without a solid team culture around them to help them through the challenges, many will opt to move on.
When a Support team loses members it has a direct impact on everyone. As tickets begin to build up, First Response Time becomes slower, and customers are more likely to be unhappy. This puts more pressure on the team and can lead to further staff losses as things spiral out of control.
So what do you do if you find yourself in a situation where staff retention in your Support team is becoming an issue? Focusing on a team culture that breeds engaged and happy agents will ultimately lead to a better overall customer experience. Why? Happy teams with good morale will stick around longer, enjoy their roles, support others and provide great service.
We explore some tactics suggested by leaders in Customer Support to build a team culture that agents will be proud to work within.
Offer training and development opportunities
Give your team the chance to grow by providing them with opportunities to develop skills that will help them progress their careers within the Support team and beyond.
Many small Support teams face the issue of flat structures with relatively few progression opportunities for agents. This can lead to promising team members moving on before their time in search of opportunities to grow elsewhere.
Helena Pilih (former User Happiness Lead at Big Health now Product Manager at Geckoboard) suggests building opportunities for your team members in a number of ways that will help them get a sense of progression even if the opportunities themselves are not physically there.
- Offer mentoring within the team. Give those new to the role the opportunity to learn from peers and longer-standing team members the opportunity to build leadership skills.
- Encourage side projects. If your agents have interests and ideas that will help support the work the team is doing give them the chance to work on these. Projects outside of their direct role, i.e building team dashboards, will positively impact them and others.
- Support horizontal moves within the company. Keep talented individuals within the organization as a whole by supporting moves to other departments.
Celebrate the wins
Get into the habit of celebrating your wins - even the small ones!
Working in support can be stressful, especially when the tickets start piling up and you have frustrated customers waiting on the line. When it feels like you’re firefighting, the positive feedback can be lost and the team can end up feeling deflated.
Share the positive news within the team and with other departments. Send shout outs through Slack channels, play great phone call recordings in meetings, display positive feedback from Twitter on a dashboard. There are many ways to celebrate the great work being achieved all whilst generating recognition and appreciation.
It’s important that the Support team feels their effort is recognized by the rest of the organization too. If the hard work they are doing is valued they will be able to push through the tougher times knowing they have the full support of everyone in the business.
Jennifer Grant of CUSI “You can do a lot to keep it fun and keep the stress off your team. Always celebrate the wins! Having a poor day of service carries home on everyone's shoulders, the wins are 10000x as important...get everyone addicted to the win!”
Reward the team as a whole as well as rewarding them individually. This encourages everyone to pull together around a mutual goal.
It is common to reward individuals in the workplace but this can have unintended consequences. For example rewarding your top ticket solver might encourage agents to cherry pick “easy” tickets to be crowned champion.
Healthy competition works wonders in some cases, such as Vend where each of their international teams was competing against each other to get the best results. The team who was able to secure top place on all 4 KPIs would be bought edible treats by the other teams. The key is to find a competitive balance that works for your team.
Staffbase have a charitable incentive for their Customer Care team. Each time a customer leaves positive feedback Staffbase donates €1 to a charity chosen by the whole Support team. They report on the amount raised each month which gives a sense of achievement with a great cause at its heart.
Review your progress
Put steps in place to review the bigger picture and how you’re progressing as a team. Sometimes it’s hard to see how far you’ve come if you’re focused on the daily grind. Find ways to highlight the progress the team has made so they can feel momentum moving forward.
Sharing your KPIs on a dashboard is a great way of making everyone (not just the Support team) aware of the progress your team is making. With Geckoboard you can send daily snapshots of your dashboard via Slack which is a handy reminder each day, but also good for looking back over the past weeks or months to see how things have shifted.
Retrospectives are another opportunity for the team to voice how they feel things are going, what they’d like to change, and areas for opportunity. They give team members a space to speak freely and work together to build changes they’d like to see.
Figure it out together
These are just a handful of tactics that you can consider for bolstering team culture and improving staff retention, one size certainly does not fit all. Speak to your team and gather feedback, find out what motivates them and what doesn’t, and build tactics that work best for your team.
Those who work in support are often resilient and empathetic by nature, these qualities lend themselves to building a strong team spirit. You’ll often find that Support teams are closely knit and very supportive places to work. There is a huge opportunity to use these foundations and grow a culture that enables and encourages team members to flourish.
Want to have a go at building your Support team a dashboard? Try Geckoboard for free today.