A poorly performing Customer Service Representative isn’t just falling below par; they may be actively sending your Customers or Prospects off to the opposition. A whole Team of Customer Service Representatives who is performing badly can be a threat to your survival! And yet a Team can go off over a very short period of time. They can quickly become negative, have a bad attitude or just be totally de-motivated to perform well with their Customers.

Understanding Motivation
Motivation is the drive to WANT to perform well. Motivation refers to the DRIVE to use their skills effectively to achieve a positive outcome with every Customer – on each and every occasion. A motivated person wants to improve, to do better and better. A highly motivated Customer Service Team wants to beat the opposition – to be better with their Customers than any other Company! To do this they continuously work at their knowledge, skills, attitude and Customer focus.

The Prerequisites of Motivation
Obviously, there are prerequisites, some things that must be in place before motivation becomes relevant. It is important that the CSR knows exactly what the ‘desired’ performance is – that they truly understand what they are paid to do. People often talk of de-motivated staff, when the poor performance is really caused by something quite different. The staff has never really been told the goals with Customers in general, and on each specific call.

For example, a Technical help desk agent may think his role is to give information, and he does this in a way that is clear to HIM. The fact that other people find him totally unintelligible is the ‘fault’ of the ‘stupid’ callers. This agent may never have been told that his goal is to explain the information, preferably in one go, so that it is clearly understood by the LEAST knowledgeable of people. These are the skills he or she must build up, and a ‘professional’ is one whose callers never have to ask for clarity! Ensure your Team really do understand their goals, and what success is.

Work on Positive Attitude
Improving the Customer Service Team’s attitude to the Customer, to the Company and to your products or services is the first area of focus. A negative attitude to one or more of these factors can seriously de-motivate a Team if it gets imbedded in the culture.

The Team Leader is critical here. Often the Team Leader actually creates the negativity by displaying negative attitude themselves. Their Leadership influence cannot be underestimated, and they can bring a Team down very rapidly. The reverse is also true. Talking positively, praising positive attitudes in their Team and gathering positive evidence to present to the Team will help turn the negativity round in a very short period of time.

The quickest and most motivating way of changing Team attitudes is to engage the Team itself in actively working on this. For example, if the Team have a negative attitude to the Company, the Team Leader can help the Team brainstorm ideas to improve this. They might invite people from other departments to give a talk on their activities, invite sales people to give the benefits of their products or share briefings from Management on the direction the Company is taking at this point in time.

Lack of Skills is De-motivating
Your Team must also have the knowledge and skills to perform well. They must have a good working knowledge of your products and services, of the language to answer queries, and of the flow of interactions. They must have the skills to deal with every type of caller or situation, and to deliver a successful outcome on every occasion. Indeed, they must understand that this DOES require skills, and is not just a matter of ‘liking’ some Customers and not others!

If the Team lack product knowledge, or the approach to handle a tricky situation, they can quickly build up defences. These defences prevent them from even LOOKING for a good solution for this Customer or for good skills to handle this type of interaction.

Again, the Team and the Team Leader together can work on improving skills. They can workshop a difficult call at a Team meeting and work out the best approach and timing of this call. They can work on improving a specific area of the call each week – the beginning one week, good closes the next etc. Team goals with a fun reward can be put in place to help focus on their skills, like ‘phrase of the week’ or ‘best save of the week’.

Listening back to calls always helps. It is much easier for someone to improve if they listen back to one or two of their calls every week. The Coach or Team Leader should guide the Customer Service Representative to identify 1 or 2 strengths on the call, and one area to work on for next week. This is an opportunity for praise and recognition as well as setting goals for next week – both highly motivating practices.

Praise and Recognition
Praise and recognition are your most important tool to motivate your Team to perform well, to have a positive attitude and to be good Team players. Management, Team Leaders and Coaches should use this motivational tool effectively to build high performing Teams.

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi is Customer Service Trainer and Consultant in Ireland. She designs and delivers customized Customer Care Training and Customer Service Programmes.