Employer Problem: High Turnover Rates in Customer Service
In the customer service (CSR) department, there are problems. The turnover is very high, and there is poor on-boarding for employees that are newly hired. Currently, they are only given a manual and asked to read it. That does not help them if they have questions beyond that manual, and it certainly does not give them any kind of additional training that they could and should receive from the company. Due to the problems there, the CSR department has a very low morale and the employees are generally not motivated to do much or make any kind of changes. Because the CSR department deals with more than customers, the job can be highly stressful. Many of the newly hired workers are not prepared for this level of stress when they begin their employment.
The programming department, the manufacturing department, compliance, scheduling, and other departments and areas of the company are all handled and dealt with by the CSR department, and the people who work there are often overwhelmed and confused because they have so much on which they must focus and they are not being successful in their endeavors to learn more about their job. If people do not want to teach them, why should they focus on trying to learn all they can? Where will they get the information if they want to learn more about how to do their job effectively? The main problem is two-fold: these employees are not being taught what they need to know in the beginning, and the information to keep them learning and growing in their jobs is not being provided to them.
Clearly, some type of intervention is needed in order to help employees feel more comfortable about their job. They must be provided with good information from the very beginning of their employment, but they also have to be given ongoing training and encouragement (Blythe, 2008; Frain, 1999; Tennant, 2001). If this ongoing opportunity is not presented to them, they will quickly lose morale and may move on and look for other jobs (Papasolomou-Doukakis, 2001). In order to accomplish a proper intervention for this very important issue, a good on-boarding process has to be established. on-the-job training (OJT) is a very valuable tool, and it needs to be used in this case. If it is not used - and used appropriately - the morale problems and high turnover rates will continue. Naturally, that is a serious concern for the business, because hiring and training people can be expensive. The expectation after all that effort is that the people will remain with the company.
By developing an OJT program that includes shadowing in every department and that allows a CSR employee to partner with a new employee and mentor and train would be helpful to the company. A work process for continuous improvement needs to be set up for the company, and being able to use a checklist to work with current employees and check off skills and tasks that are learned by new employees could mean more success and better retention. Training and development modules are also going to be needed, because the new employees are currently not taught how to deal with difficult people or resolve conflict. Both of those issues are very important areas for the company to address if it wants to see a lower turnover rate and better morale in its CSR department. Training for a customer service job must be ongoing, or the company risks further financial loss.
Benchmarking/Best Practice Review
Other companies have handled the idea of CSR problems and training in the past. Walmart, Kmart, and any of the other large retailers have all had to focus on customer service in recent years because there is more to the equation for shoppers than just the price of an item. When companies focus on benchmarking and best practices, they can really make important and significant changes to their CSR departments (Kansal & Rao, 2006; Tennant, 2001). There are many different ways in which a company can affect change in its employees, but that change generally starts with a company that is committed to making its customers number one (Kendall, 2007; Kelemen, 2003). It is easy to say that customers matter, but if a company does not show that customers matter it is possible that company will lose a large amount of business (Blythe, 2008).
One of the main best practices is to ask how a company can make it easier for its customer to do business with that company, and then take steps in that direction (Reeves & Bednar, 2005). The help desk (i.e. CSR department) should have a checklist for what to ask customers and what to answer customers who ask the most common and frequent questions. By providing something of this nature, companies allow their CSR departments to handle customers and other departments more easily (Reizenstein, 2004; Stracke, 2006). Additionally, the checklist helps teach new employees about the issues they will face. The more information they have, the more comfortable they will be and the more likely they will be to remain on the job. Training matters, and the main thing seen with other companies is that they provide proper training to their employees - not just at the beginning of their employment, but on an ongoing basis (Blythe, 2008; Reizenstein, 2004).
Another thing that companies do when they want to see success in their customer service department is to focus on brainstorming ideas that can help both the employees and the customers (Stracke, 2006; Tennant, 2001). Bringing some of those customers into the focus groups and brainstorming sessions can make a serious difference in what the company is capable of providing (Tennant, 2001). It can also help the employees focus on what they need to do in order to make sure that customers are truly happy and employees remain as stress free as possible. The stress of the employees in the CSR department is a serious issue, because too much stress can cause the employees to quit their job, have poor morale, mistreat customers, or mistreat other employees (Blythe, 2008). These are all issues that can be avoided if a person gets the proper training and understands what he or she needs to do to care for himself or herself and the customers.
Companies that have had to deal with the problems of poor customer service before have tried many different things in order to discover what works for their company and their customers. Some of the things tried have included ideas mentioned above, along with being more accessible to customers and doing what one says one is going to do. Among the biggest "pet peeves" of customers of any kind of company are employees that will not do what they say they will do for a customer. Making promises one cannot keep is a very bad choice for any kind of company, because customers remember that kind of thing and will tell a number of other people about the problems he or she faced with that company (Kendall, 2007; Reizenstein, 2004). If those kinds of issues can be avoided, it can be much healthier for the company and the employees. It also helps to reduce the stress that is felt by employees, because each and every employee is subject to customers that do not treat them well - especially if they fail in their promises to the customer in some way or do not live up to promises.
From looking at the best practices and considering the problems that the company currently has, it is easy to see that there are issues that have to be corrected. Here, it is important to discuss how those issues can be addressed in a way that will work for the company, the employees, and the customers. The first thing that needs to be done is an evaluation of why employees are having trouble. What, specifically, are they missing from their training experience? Until what they are missing is clearly understood, it will not be possible to do anything to fix the issue (Blythe, 2008; Reeves & Bednar, 2005; Tennant, 2001). From a preliminary evaluation of the problem, the main thing missing appears to be a continuation of the training the employees receive when they are first hired.
The manual they are given is helpful, but ultimately it does not provide enough information to continue to move forward and understand the entire scope of their job. Another, more explanatory, manual is not the answer, however. Instead, one thing that should be studied is how much the employee knows about the job after he or she has read the manual. What questions do the employees still have? There are certainly questions, and there may be parts of the manual that the employee skims because it is dry, boring, or otherwise uninteresting. If the information in the manual is not presented properly and does not provide…