The Customer Contact Team’s Unique Position Within The Organization

In a recent poll, the majority of the voters indicated to struggle more with keeping team members on board, than attracting new employees. The challenges surrounding staff turnover are keenly felt, with solutions elusive.

What does it mean, when employees find their way out fast than you would like? In my opinion, there is only one reason why employees are leaving your team and company, and that is because it’s more attractive for them to be someplace else. That could be another job, a different role, a different sector, or perhaps something in their personal life that weighs more heavily than working for you.

Customer contact teams usually have a unique position within a company. They are different from other teams in the following aspects:

1. Motivation to work in customer contact

Customer contact is a very important part of organizations that deal with customers. It is an easy entry position for most people, as few skills are required before on-the-job training, and it offers flexible hours. However, not many people dreamed of working in customer contact when they were a kid, so for most, it is not the dream job but rather a stepping-stone to another role.

As a leader, it’s important for you to understand how the need for security and safety influences behavior in the workplace.

2. Scheduled shifts in Customer Contact

Flexibility is increasingly playing a significant role within the policies of organizations. Whether it’s about working hours, location, or the work-life balance, post-COVID, flexibility has accelerated at a greater pace. In customer service departments, flexibility is less hard to find. We advertise flexibility, but by this, we mean that we would like you to start earlier than other departments, work into the evenings, and also be available for two weekends per month. We consider it crucial that the customer service department is easily reachable at optimal costs, and therefore, we invest a lot of time and effort in planning shifts. We consider it crucial that the customer service department is easily reachable at optimal costs, and therefore, we invest a lot of time and effort in planning shifts. Also, when after-work festivities start (December parties, Friday drinks), the customer contact team needs to finish the shift even if this means they miss a part of the party.

What’s also common within these teams are the sanctions for not adhering to the rules. Official warnings, dismissal for repeated lateness, different policies regarding reporting sick and waiting days—these are matters you generally don’t encounter in Marketing or Finance departments.

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to understand how this special treatment compared to the rest of the company affects your team.

3. The connection between customer contact and other departments

While customer contact agents focus on helping the customers, other departments might wish to deflect direct interactions with the customer contact department. To prevent receiving too many questions, for example. Let the customer contact team handle that. At the same time, you also see that this creates a distance between departments, the so-called “us versus them” effect. However, the result of this is that there is no shared goal to work towards, which does not benefit the organization as a whole.

As a leading bridge-builder, it’s your noble task to continue finding common ground between teams and to maintain connection in a positive and constructive manner.

4. Focus on mistakes

The customer service department has a love-hate relationship with mistakes within the organization. If nothing goes wrong, the customer service department has no work. As long as things go wrong, the customer service team has work, but they also have the ungrateful task of resolving the mess caused by other teams. If not much goes wrong within the company that affects customers, let’s say 10% of sales result in a customer inquiry or complaint. Indeed, 90% going well is a great result, you would think. For the customer service representative, 100% of the work consists of dealing with the things that don’t go well. Customers rarely contact us to let us know they’ve had a great experience or are happy with the service. As a result, it’s sometimes difficult for the customer service team to see the bigger picture of the organization, and there’s a feeling that others aren’t doing their job well or don’t know what they’re doing.

Communication, communication, communication. As a leader, you have the task of not only making the invisible visible but also tangible and palpable. Both within your team and towards other departments.

5. Social status of the customer service team within the organization

Unfortunately, customer contact teams tend to have low social status within companies. Due to the ease of entry into the role, it is – unfairly! – assumed that the work in customer service is simple and trivial, and thus the same applies to the employees. As a result, it can be quite a struggle to move team members through, increase salaries, or even for other departments to see the value of the customer contact team.

As the leader of the customer contact team, you have a firm belief that your team is the most important of all departments in the company. Through your enthusiasm and conviction, you know how to convey this within the organization.

With this, you now have concrete tools to understand in what ways a customer contact team is so different from other teams, what impact this has on motivation, and what you as a leader can do to respond. But how do you tackle this? You read it here.

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