This week I am focusing my blog on the importance of developing ‘authority’ as a Customer Experience Professional in celebration of the upcoming CXPA Members Insight Exchange on the 10th February in London. If you have not read all about how to earn authority as a Customer Experience Professional here.
I am delighted to follow my post up with a guest article that also speaks of the importance of ‘personal growth’ – this time from the perspective of the Customer Service Professional. Written by Deanna Ayres, I am sure you will find a lot of value in her wisdom…
Customer service professionals are one of the major points of contact between the consumers and the company. Considering that they are a representation of the brand, customer service workers must be well trained and knowledgeable in a wide variety of topics, both general and pertaining to the company itself.
When people leave school, most people consider it the end of the studying, exams and assessments. For customer service professionals, however, it is important to continue their learning process to meet the continuously evolving needs of the customers.
Whether we choose to accept it or not, employees are constantly being judged on their skills and benchmarked against their colleagues. And, unlike studying for a final exam in college, new technology, customer demand and legislation make for an ever-changing environment.
According to a 2012 survey by an adult learning organization, there is a strong correlation between continued learning and sustained employment, especially when it comes to those fields with direct customer contact. Staff that participate in learning programs are more capable of adapting to changing requirements of organizations, putting them in a better position for promotion in their current company or with a competitive edge in the job market. They are also more likely to be viewed by their superiors as highly motivated and engaged in the business, two positive attributes to have for any employee.
Some organizations are good at providing learning opportunities for subjects that directly translate to improved performance on the job. In customer service environments, as well as many other work environments, keeping your employees happy is a way to boost the bottom line. To keep employees happy, companies often invest in creating a culture of learning by organizing continuous learning programs for employees to better themselves and their performance. There is plenty of evidence that these types of work-based learning programs are dollars well invested by the company. They cultivate engagement, flexibility in work schedules and an increased sense of appreciation and connection with the company.
To promote personal growth, companies can bring in guest speakers; encourage employees to start office-based clubs built on their interests, and implement computer rooms in the office where employees can participate in online training programs. Each of these three possibilities can be tweaked according to the type of business you operate in to meet the needs of your employees specifically. To help the company help its employees, it is worth it to invest in a call center management software as well just to ensure that the entire process stays on track and remains beneficial for everyone.
What the company offers in terms of training options, however, may not be in line with what you really want or need for your career. Depending on what area of your job you are looking to improve, there are a variety of ways to get started with your personal growth.
A great place to start is to look at past performance reviews or speak with managers, colleagues and the human resources department to seek advice from those whose skills and careers you are aiming to achieve. To improve these areas, you can identify workshops; approach someone in the business to be a mentor or sign up for an online study program. Another idea is to shadow someone who is very good at the skill you’re looking to improve. You can shadow them for one day, one week, or once a week for a longer period of time.
Instead of identifying areas of improvement based on comments of those working close by to you, you can benchmark your skills according to the job market. Check out advertisements of roles similar to yours to understand what it would take for you to get hired in the case that you were unemployed. Are your IT skills up to par? Negotiation skills could use a little improvement? Whatever the job market is looking for, you can adjust your learning program to accommodate those skills.
Sometimes the skills you need to work on aren’t so much about learning something completely new, but rather about refreshing and updating old skills. For customer service professionals, a brush up with handling difficult customers, communication skills or people management skills, for those looking to climb the ladder.
Outside of professional training, personal development outside of work can often lead to the gain of soft skills that can improve your performance in the workplace as well. Volunteer work, fundraising projects, joining local committees or participating in research activities are all ways to create personal growth without focusing on one, specific skill.
A good workplace makes employees feel like their company invests in and believes in them for the long term. Providing and promoting personal growth for customer service professionals leads to happier employees which creates bigger returns for the company and its investors. It’s a cycle with an endless amount of benefits, which just keeps going around.
Deanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group & Kova Corp. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in business & marketing. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek. Follow her @deanna_ayres