Frost & Sullivan identified customer service as a strategic imperative for brands who want to differentiate themselves from the competition. Consumers have a breadth of options when it comes to buying goods and services, so cutting prices or introducing small tweaks in products often isn’t enough to ensure brand preference. Eighty-nine percent of consumers, according to F&S, switch loyalty because of poor customer service.
Because of this reality, more and more brands are placing greater value on front-line customer care teams. As F&S identify, one major prong of a solid customer service strategy is the consistent customer experience across digital and non-digital platforms. Every customer should get the same brand experience, whether from a phone call or a tweet.
Ensuring great customer service, however, is just one reason to place emphasis on social care. An Aberdeen study found that employees tasked with customer care are happier and less prone to burnout. The working environment of social care employees contributed to greater job satisfaction which, as managers are well aware, is crucial to consistent and customer-centric front-line service.
Reasons for Customer Service Employee Burnout
In all industries, customer care employees are the first point of contact for concerned consumers. They balance the extraordinary pressure of having to convey a consistent brand message, solve problems and maintain a positive attitude in the face of negative customer feedback.
It’s not a surprise, however, that customer service employees working through traditional platforms, such as phone and face-to-face contact, have high rates of burnout. Harvard Business Journal identified three factors that lead to employee burnout across professions and roles: exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. In sum, people become tired, feel distant from their work and have no sense of achievement.
In order to reduce those feelings of burnout, employees are encouraged to engage in self-care and take whatever steps are possible on the job to make things better. That may include shifting tasks to other team members. Outside of working hours, employees can prioritize the development of strong social connections that offer them emotional support.
While these recommendations are important for all employees to stem the tide of burnout, there remains a role for team leaders and managers to make life easier for customer care teams. Front line staff often have little flexibility to manage or delegate tasks. They also lack the liberty to interact with employees however they see fit. Changing the overall structure of front-line engagement is one way to support employees who may otherwise experience burnout while giving customers a superior experience.
Why Social Care Employees Love Their Jobs
Social care employees communicate with customers over all forms of digital media. They engage through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms that consumers regularly use to chat with friends and family. Consistent customer experience puts social media and digital messaging channels on equal footing with established forms of engagement, like phone, online chat and in-person discussion.
When employees engage through digital platforms, however, they tend to have a more satisfying workday. They feel like they have made a difference with customers and have increased brand visibility and trust. According to the Aberdeen report, Customer Messaging: Happy Customers, Productive Employees, & Better Financials, social care team members have a level of enthusiasm about their role that is superior to that felt by their colleagues working on traditional platforms, for example:
- Social care agents see the role as prestigious;
- Interactions with customers are largely positive;
- Social care agents are the public face of the brand and feel proud of that association;
- Social care teams are close-knit and work collaboratively.
Compared to parallel channels offering customer service, therefore, social care team members are less likely to burn out. The longer they are with the company, the greater their loyalty to the brand, and the more the company benefits from their tenure. After all, longer serving employees have valuable institutional memory, have a stronger skill set in their roles and provide stability in the workforce.
Preventing Burnout of Customer Care Teams
In all working environments, however, burnout is bound to occur. While the employee is often the best individual to take direction to stop burnout, management can take positive steps to improve working environments. In addition to helping customer care teams transition into a social care environment, they can also encourage staffers to take advantage of the benefits of workplace culture.
For example, workers should be encouraged to attend staff recreational outings, take their vacations and breaks, and overall find a rhythm that helps them achieve optimal performance levels. Many managers may also institute an open door policy and encourage employees to come to them with concerns, or to seek support. More and more brands are adopting the philosophy that strong customer care teams leads to increased customer satisfaction.
Social care may appear to be an innovative concept, but it is simply meeting customers where they already are, online. For brands that want to demonstrate they care what those buying their products think and feel, instituting a social care team is an essential step. For those employees tasked with conveying the brand message, the platform contributes to their own positive associations with the company and their role in its development.