We all go through times when we’re not feeling the whole work thing. The mere thought of work brings on dread, we mop ourselves into the office later and later, and our eyes are rolled to the back of our head more often than not. These are all signs that we’re burned out or morale is very low.
If you’re a supervisor or manager and you see signs of work exhaustion in your people, you need to act fast, or you might lose your people to burnout, or another job. I’ve had depleted employees, and I’ve been the used up person (even in my current position).
Here are three things I know for sure meaningfully motivate employees. I know these ideas work because I’ve used them in call centers I’ve managed, and right here at Myra Golden Seminars.
1. Plan a Team Building Outing
I keep things spicy at Myra Golden Seminars by regularly getting the team out for fun. We’ve done escape rooms, painting with wine in hand, and I once brought in a game from my childhood home, Simon, which gave way to energy and belly laughs. Look for ways to bring your team together outside of work.
I got my first management title when I was twenty-six years old. The person I’d beat out for the position had been with the company 26 years, and in one hiring decision, this woman, who wanted my job, become my direct report.
She’d been with the company since before I was in kindergarten. And now I was her boss. Nobody said my new management job would be easy.
And it was not. Easy, that is. Managing a person old enough to be my mother, was just one of the challenges I faced in that job. I had peers who resented me leaving the familiar flock and joining management. I was seen by many as too young, too inexperienced, too favored – based on my education.
When I look back at the decision that took me from employee to boss, and all that followed, I realize I did several things right. I made lots and lots of mistakes, but I managed to do some things right. Here’s my story.
Too many hiring managers focus on candidates’ work history when filling customer service roles. They get excited when they read that the candidate has six-plus years working in customer service.
But past work in customer service is not a reliable indicator of future success in serving your customers.
To consistency deliver the best possible customer interactions, you need to hire for emotional intelligence —hiring people with empathy, friendliness, and connection, and then train those people on your systems and policies. These are the people who will do the best job for you.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to hire for emotional intelligence using eight strategic interviewing questions.
The Goal In Interviewing for Customer Service Jobs
We’ll get to the interview questions in a moment. But, for the questions to work, you have to set up the interview properly. When you interview candidates for customer service jobs, you want to get them relaxed and confident, so they can authentically communicate with you. Here are four things, precisely, for you to focus on in your interviews.
Make the Candidate Feel As Comfortable As Possible
Small talk is a fantastic way to get candidates relaxed. Talk about anything – traffic, the cup of coffee you spilled in your last meeting, or a unique piece of jewelry the person is wearing. You want candidates to relax because when people are relaxed, they are more communicative and genuine.
Get Candidates to Tell You Stories
When you ask interview questions, and I’ll give you several questions to use, encourage the person to provide you with detailed examples of how they recently handled specific situations. When candidates talk to you through stories and examples, you’ll get honest and comprehensive insight into how the person is likely to perform in a similar situation at your company.
Laying the Interview Foundation
After making a little small talk and getting your candidate relaxed, set the interview up by saying something like, “I’m going to ask you some questions and what I’m looking for is specific examples that illustrate how you have responded to specific situations in the past. I’ll be taking notes as you talk, but you keep going. Feel free to take your time and think about responses before answering the questions.”
While your candidate is telling you stories of how they’ve handled specific situations in the past, you need to be taking lots of notes. I want you to jot things down so you can go back and take a close look at how all of the people you interviewed measure up to your expectations. It will be easy to forget the many examples you’ve heard during interviews, so you need to take meeting notes.
One of the most significant challenges facing companies today is attracting and retaining right-fit front line customer service professionals. For sure, this is challenging, but you can find and keep good-fit employees if you know what’s important to Millennials as it relates to the job search and company culture.
Millennials now make up about 50% of the workforce. And Millennials approach jobs and careers differently from Generation X (my generation) and Baby Boomers.
When I work with companies on finding, hiring, and retaining the best customer service employees, I focus on three things.
1. Developing an attractive social presence (This is tremendously important merely to get Millennials to consider a company.)
2. Hiring for motivational fit. You want people who are motivated to deliver exceptional customer interactions, people who are the best cultural fit for your brand and your customers.
3. A solid coaching and motivation strategy. You’re going to have to coach to develop your people because this is extremely important to Millennials.
Let’s look at each of the three elements of attracting, hiring, and retaining Millennials.
The twentieth of May marks 16 years that I’ve been in business for myself, doing the things I’ve dreamt about, the things I love – training, writing, designing curriculum. I love where I am and what I do; yet recently I have experienced burnout.
Guilt was my first response to burnout. How dare I feel bored, disinterested and un-creative. So many people would be happy to be where I am; I should be grateful. I’m my own boss. A typical workday for me includes dining at a highly recommended local restaurant, perhaps a walking tour of a historic city in the south, shopping for shoes in Toronto’s fashion district or meeting beautiful spirited Native Americans in Milbank, South Dakota. All this is after a well-received training session or keynote.
I am grateful, actually, and yet, I was experiencing burnout. I wonder if your employees have ever been where I am just now emerging from – the brink of burnout. Maybe you, too, have felt unmotivated at work. I’ve addressed, really still addressing, my burnout by doing 3 things. These 3 things, I believe, can help your employees (or you), out of a rut when they feel burned out or simply un-motivated.
1. Don’t allow customer service employees to spend more than 80% of their time on the phones
Now you can get even more ideas for motivating employees, specifically how to motivate employees working in customer service. View or download for my high energy video, How to Motivate Customer Service Employees. It’s loaded with practical […]
I was sitting at my desk looking at my Outlook calendar. Four meetings, two of them overlapping, and literally only a break of about 15 minutes for a bite to eat. On my desk, stacks of papers, notes, and folders reminded me of the two major projects I was running behind on.And I still needed to sit down with Jim to talk about issues with his recent tone with a customer. The thing is, this day wasn’t unusual. This was pretty much everyday life for me. I was overwhelmed.
Looking at the two meetings that overlapped, I thought, “What if I sent someone to the second meeting in my place?” The second meeting was a task force to look for ways to increase customer loyalty. I needed to be there, yes, but my budget meeting took priority.
I called George into my office. George was a bright, energetic, proactive frontline customer service representative. “George, I have an opportunity for you,” I said. “ At 2:30 I have a customer loyalty task force meeting. I can’t attend due to a budget meeting and I’d like you to stand in for me.” George jumped at the chance to get out of the call center and sit in on a meeting with managers and directors.
The next day George came to my office to brief me on the meeting. He was beaming with excitement. He had so many creative ideas for how to help our company build and strengthen customer relationships. I knew he added more value to that meeting than I would have, especially given that my priority was on the budget meeting. George offered to continue going to the task force meetings in my place going forward. I didn’t even have to think about it, “Yes, George, you will be great at this!”
Delegating a meeting to an employee lightened my load and empowered him to exercise untapped skills.Months later I could see George beginning to blossom in the areas of leadership, public speaking and championing ideas. I had truly motivated him in a very unique way.What if, I wondered, I could give all of my employees a similar experience? I began to seek out tasks for delegation, opportunities that would not only make life easier for me but would truly empower and motivate my employees. I found the opportunities and in the process, I relieved my stress and created a culture of empowered and motivated employees. Here are 3 things being an overwhelmed manager taught me about motivating my call center employees.
1. When All Else Fails, Go to Your Employees for Solutions
When I first took over the call center at this company, I inherited big problems – with everything from employee morale to delivering a quality customer experience. New to the position and still very much learning as a young manager, I really didn’t know how to tackle the myriad challenges. Fresh out of graduate school, I turned to one of my textbooks for help. In my Human Relations textbook, I found something known as the “Quality Circle.”
In a Quality Circle, managers go to employees for solutions to problems. Following the text to the letter, I assembled a group of call center employees who volunteered to be part of the quality circle. We met once weekly for about 10 weeks. The first week I put a problem on the table and said, “Here’s the deal. This is a problem that we must fix and I have no idea how to do that.You guys are the experts. What ideas do you have?”
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There was a time when customer service departments/jobs were solely reactive. The job was to answer questions and resolve problems. But increased competition and higher expectations from customers have led companies to require customer service professionals to take on a more proactive role.
Customer service representatives are spokespeople and even sales people in addition to problem solvers. Customer service professionals have significant influence on customer loyalty and purchasing habits. Therefore, the hiring, selection and performance of customer service professionals are of extreme importance to the overall success of organizations. We have prepared a selection of interview questions to equip you to hire capable, right-fit employees for the critical customer service role.
The following questions are designed to elicit specific examples of the core competencies of successful consumer affairs professionals. All questions are open-ended and call for the candidate to offer an illustration of their performance in each of the core areas. You should take detailed notes on the responses during the interview so you can go back and review in greater detail.
I’m going to share with you 7 categories of great interview questions. Consider setting the meeting up like this: “I’m going to ask you some questions and what I’m looking for is specific examples that illustrate how you have responded to specific situations in the past. I’ll be taking notes as you talk, but you keep going. Feel free to take your time and think about responses before answering the questions.”
1. Customer Service
Clearly, any candidate for a consumer affairs position must have a customer service mindset. This includes anticipating customers’ needs, thoroughly answering questions, having a positive attitude and understanding that the client is the reason you are in business.
What does giving “excellent service” mean to you?
Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty to serve a customer.
What do you like most about being in customer service?
What do you think is likely to be the difference between success and mediocrity in this position?
I’m working with a small call center in a large city-county library system. One of my main focuses for this library system is to improve the overall efficiency of the call center and to drastically improve the customer experience that is delivered through the call center. One of my recommendations for improvement in this contact center is for my client to begin using a tool to help the library forecast call volume and to use this projection data to better schedule for coverage.