Embed the “What am I going to do?” not the “What is management going to do?” mind-set into the DNA of your organisation.
When I took over management of Customer Care the team lacked organisational skills, were understaffed for the workload and there were unresolved conflict issues between management and team members.
The team lacked the skills for resolving conflict successfully and communication was poor. Morale was at an all-time low, and the team had little respect from the rest of the organisation, who were largely unaware of the issues within the department.
As a result of this, the team, although managing as best they could, (given the workload and lack of support) were underperforming in many areas and working inefficiently due to a lack of cooperation and in-fighting.
The team needed to be expanded, but the environment was not right for new staff to be brought in – the culture needed to undergo a considerable shift.
The team was suffering high stress, low engagement and a lack of support and morale. Christmas was already happening when I arrived, and our main priority was to get through this. We used temporary staff and muddled through our busiest period while I was becoming aware of issues in the team.
We implemented An Even Better Place to Work (BP2W) as soon as we were able to take the team out of the office for the initial 2 day foundation course. The course itself was hugely beneficial in helping team members to understand one another, and to realise and appreciate the differences within the team. All of the feedback was highly positive and the team was delighted to be given some really helpful communication tools. The second day was very challenging as we held an open feedback session armed with the techniques taught by Shay McConnon (creator of BP2W). A lot of the conflict was aired and some big steps were taken towards resolving them.
Before the training we took the BP2W engagement Diagnostic with the team. We carried on with the BP2W speed training activities, focusing on feedback & conflict initially, and the team thoroughly enjoyed the activities. Initially we did 2 per week as the team needed opportunities to give and receive feedback around real work and relationship issues.
I carried out 1-2-1 meetings with each member of the team, asking them to share the results of their diagnostic with me, to understand where they were coming from and what they needed to improve their scores. In addition to this the team had monthly 1-2-1 reviews from their email quality audits and lots of additional training and support.
The results were incredible for such a short period of time. We retook the diagnostic after three months and there were significant improvements in all areas, including conflict resolution.
We still have some work to do, but the team continues to improve and bond, and we have recently added 5 new team members who have fed back that the team is friendly, helpful and welcoming. The atmosphere is much happier, the team is more relaxed and in situations where conflict would normally have arisen, team members are talking to each other and their new level of understanding has meant that differences are managed without escalating into conflict.
Once the conflict was no longer there, I was able to see the strengths within the team and to place people within specific roles to the benefit of the team by playing to their individual strengths. This has reduced levels of frustration within the more ambitious team members and created a more harmonious and self-sufficient team.
Emails and social media quality have improved due to increased cooperation within the team. Now that manager’s time is not taken up with squabbles, they are able to provide additional training, mentoring and support which is leading to higher levels of productivity.
Customer satisfaction with the helpdesk has increased from 92% to 95% and the team is clearing down emails and social media within SLA’s. Further to this, the reputation of the department has significantly improved among stakeholders and other areas of the business.
Escalated complaints have reduced, as the team members are applying their new understanding to customers both over the telephone and in emails and social media. This has freed up much more of my time. I now spend very little time on people management activities or on escalated complaints. The time I lose on people problems has reduced from around 60% to less than 10%.
After just three months we are now in a stable, self-sufficient position and we can move on to phase two – moving from a complaints cost centre to a self-sufficient sales through service environment, proactively contacting lapsed customers, adding live chat and improving social media reach.