What’s better than a weekend? A three-day weekend, of course! Thanks to the federal holidays that fall on a Monday, seven times a year the banks close, retailers put out special ads, and some businesses even shut their doors and give their employees the day off. President’s Day falls into that category.
President’s Day was the first holiday to be dedicated to an individual American, and furthermore, it’s origin is an ode to the nation’s worker. In the late 1960’s, Congress set many federal holidays to predetermined Mondays, with support from labor unions and the private sector. They had hopes that new efficiency would spur the economic life of the nation, and that employees would take advantage of the paid holiday and the freedom to travel.
Employee engagement is key to any organization that holds CX as a priority. Whether that engagement comes through time off on a holiday such as President’s Day or through other company perks such as a free gym membership, employee engagement is critical to sustaining a workforce. When there are unhappy employees, there is a lack of interest in the overall customer experience and the customer on the other end feels the impact as well.
Calling for Quality
From an internal perspective, I have seen the positivity of how bettering the employee experience overflows into a better customer experience as well. In my past work experience, I was a phone representative for two different companies. The first was a research company, where we would make outbound calls to try and gather information for other companies. Although there were incentives such as pay raises for following scripts and turning over results, the overall mood in that center was dismal at best. It was fully apparent that no one wanted to be there. The leadership had a lack of interest in what employees tried communicating, even down to simple things like timesheets. There were many times the supervisors would hold us past the end of our shift, promising that a few more hours would bring us to the point of finishing up a project. They’d make it seem like leaving would result in being penalized or losing your position. For a center that employed college-aged kids, this was not a demand that was met happily. I myself stayed a few times out of fear, which was frustrating when you have homework to return to.
Reading long surveys to people over the phone, even if they were mildly interested would usually turn into a painful exchange, trying desperately to complete the questions and move on. People would lose interest, but if you could keep them on the line, their answers were lacking in substance. I wondered how helpful the data was, when it seemed like pulling tooth and nail to get the results. As peppy as I tried to be over the phone, when both parties aren’t happy and engaged, we both suffered. I know my performance was lacking, but when the entire process was sure to depress, I thought, what was the point?
Atmosphere and Attitude Affect Engagement
The other center that I worked for was completely different. Customers called in to manage their accounts and make purchases. The site they were using was very interactive, so it was important to give them clear directions. When I arrived on shift there, we were given plenty of breaks in an area with a beautiful view. There was medicine for headaches, snacks available, and even free chocolate milk. Simple, small things that have a larger impact on how the course of the day goes.
As important as call centers are to gather research, only speaking over the phone and staring at a computer screen is taxing, and the company understood that. They had a sincere desire to not only keep their members happy, but the employees serving them as well. The supervisors were eager to help, and they were always standing by ready if we had questions.
The difference between the two work experiences was black and white. When I was handling calls in the center where we had support from our leaders, adequate breaks, and other incentives, I found my day speeding by. I enjoyed helping the people who called in because I enjoyed what I was doing.
In the other center, it felt like everything was very forced. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing and though I tired, it reflected in the quality of the call service. This company didn’t care about their employees, so how could I even fathom them caring about their customers?
A CX Transformation
More than ever, in the customer experience world, the whole picture needs to be considered. There’s a reason they say on airplanes the adult must put their own oxygen mask on before helping a child. Without taking care of yourself first, it is difficult to take care of another person.
Whether you are working this President’s Day or have it off, take the time to consider the employee engagement levels at your organization. Do you feel like your organization cares about its employees? Are you engaged at work? As more companies embrace the benefits of being employee oriented, the customer experience world itself will continue to greatly benefit. We will have a CX world where employees want to see the company succeed and grow and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. In return, they will share their joy and passion with the consumer, and ultimately, everyone will win.