When service leaders attempt to improve the efficiency of issue resolution, the majority of their focus is on the wants and needs of the customer and making the service experience easier. Yet, they less frequently think about the needs and experiences of their own reps.
The key to improving frontline performance is to gain deep knowledge of rep workflows, and no one knows that better than reps
Leaders want to improve frontline productivity, but it’s more difficult to achieve than in previous years. Service reps constantly deal with customers who have increasingly complex problems without simple solutions, and they are sinking under the weight of multiple systems and tools. Gartner research found that customer experience is better at companies that simplify reps’ day-to-day experience and make it easier for them to concentrate on helping the customers they serve.
Increase rep productivity
Leaders who shift focus from empathizing with customers to emphasizing with reps will begin to uncover the easier, quick and lower-cost ways the service center can become more productive.
“The key to improving frontline performance is to gain deep knowledge of rep workflows, and no one knows that better than reps,” says Devin Poole, Director, Advisory at Gartner. “Don’t just listen, but also focus on prioritizing smaller improvements that are far easier to act on over large cumbersome system overhauls.”
A rep-led program empowers reps not only to submit feedback, but to be involved at the prioritization and implementation stages. This is important, as reps have on-the-ground insight that might not be visible or obvious to leaders.
Not only does this capitalize on the great ideas sitting in the minds of frontline reps, but it also empowers them to share those ideas and be confident that action will be taken if they do. This transparency builds reps’ trust in the system, which helps sustain the program.
“To ensure high-quality submissions, it’s important to adopt a structured approach to gathering feedback,” says Poole.
Create a structured feedback system
To create a feedback structure that enables reps to identify and respond to common challenges, customer service and support leaders must:
- Create a formalized system for feedback submission: Be deliberate in identifying key individuals and their roles in managing a rep-led feedback program. Adopt a structured approach to gathering feedback with targeted prompts to help reps specify challenges, causes, frequency and, most importantly, potential solutions. This specificity forces reps to think through their submissions, weeding out unusable feedback and generating actionable, high-quality submissions.
- Launch the feedback program: Make submission systems easily accessible for reps. It’s also important to prompt and help them understand what makes a valuable submission.
- Establish ongoing mechanisms for sustained participation: Create opportunities to ensure that all reps, regardless of whether they submitted feedback, stay involved in the process when ideas are selected for implementation. Be sure supervisors follow up with reps on the status of their ideas and the rationale behind why they were or weren’t accepted. Reps who do not submit may play a role in prioritizing issues that they encounter, too. This transparency builds reps’ trust in the system and creates a self-sustaining dynamic that requires minimal external pressure to keep it going.