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Happy people give great service White Paper

White Paper

Happy people give great service White Paper

White Paper

  • White Paper
  • Collaboration
  • Behaviour
  • Customer engagement
  • Training
  • ITIL

Author  Sally Bogg

July 23, 2019 |

 21 min read

  • White Paper
  • Collaboration
  • Behaviour
  • Customer engagement
  • Training
  • ITIL

Studies have shown that there is a huge difference between the performance of motivated and demotivated employees. Consequently, it is necessary to invest time and effort in those responsible for service delivery, in order to provide an excellent customer experience. For those wishing to improve the customer experience it would be advisable to first start with the employee experience. This may appear to be an easy thing to do, but in reality, it can be difficult and challenging. This paper will outline guidance for creating dynamic and contented teams.

Creating a sense of direction and purpose

For employees to be successful in their roles they need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how their work supports the overall organization. Vision and mission statements can be used to define organizational purpose and communicate values. A good vision statement will provide a strong sense of direction and provide a guide for clear and directional decision-making. Mission statements are used to bring focus to underlying business goals and objectives based on organizational values. However, these are often written by those in very senior positions, using complex business language that can fail to have the required impact on staff working on the front line.

Below are specific team vision and mission statements, that demonstrate how the teams and service fit into the bigger picture.

Mission statement

The mission statement should always be written from the customers’ perspective and must answer three questions: who the customers are, what they do and who they do it for. This will provide the team with a common goal. It will inspire the team and ensure that they coordinate their efforts in achieving the objectives of the service.

Vision statement

A vision statement should set the standards of excellence. It must inspire commitment and passion through its ambitious scope. Yet, the statement needs to have clear and coherent language. A vision statement should offer up a challenge but still be achievable within a reasonable time frame.

Wherever possible, the team should be involved in the development of both vision and mission statements. These statements could be created during a team workshop, which could start with questions such as: what is the desired state of the team and the service, where do we want to be in 12 months, where do we want to be in 5 years, how do we want to position ourselves in the market, how do we fit into the bigger picture, what inspires us, what do we think our customers want? When this is complete, build upon the vision statement by creating a series of memorable and succinct quotations that summarise the results of the team workshop. Carefully consider the language used. Phrases such as ’we want to’ or ‘we are going to’ are more powerful than phrases such as ‘we will’. The inclusion of the entire team, in the development of the vision statement, will provide the team with the opportunity to voice their opinions. This will result in a greater sense of ownership and will ensure effective adoption. The next stage will be to implement the vision and mission statement. They should be used to make day-to-day decisions about the team and the service. Specifically, the statements must be used in the recruitment and development of staff. The team and any potential recruits must accept the aims within the statements. To achieve this, anyone with a leadership role will need to lead by example by exemplifying the vision and mission statements.

Code of conduct

The code of conduct builds upon the vision and mission statements and can be used to set out the standards of professionalism. The code of conduct can protect staff by providing clear expectations of what is required. Regardless, it is not enough to simply create guidelines and principles. They must be adhered to by all staff, who as a result should demonstrate excellent people skills, technical ability, and good business awareness. It may be useful to use a combination of industry best practice standards as well as internally agreed standards. Together, these can be used to form an overall code of conduct. A good code of conduct will: set clear expectations for higher standards of service delivery, include company rules and professional standards, and define company values. This will result in a consistent service delivery and ensure that staff are working in agreement with one another. As in the case of the vision and mission statements, the code of conduct needs to be implemented in reality and used in the management and development of staff.

Developing your people

It is important to create a working culture which provides staff with the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their knowledge. In many organizations support staff receive very little credit for the important role they play within IT. Generally, the service desk is viewed as a starting point into other IT roles. However, professional development and evaluation better equips staff to be able to deliver the excellent customer service that is expected from them. Professional development is an important motivating factor for staff as it can assist them in their career progression.

Job shadowing and secondments

Job shadowing and secondments can be a great way of actively supporting professional development. This could be achieved through the creation of specific processes and working practices. The opportunity to work alongside an experienced member of staff in a different role, can help an employee expand their knowledge and skills. It can also help the employee gain a greater insight into the organization. Job shadowing and secondments provide staff with the chance to see things from a different perspective, develop their professional network, and reflect on their current role and working practices. In my 10 years as a manager, I have had the chance to support lots of staff in both short and long-term secondments and have over the years seen many of them fly the nest and move into other roles and careers, often within the existing organization. This sends a very positive message that there are career and development opportunities within your organization. Allowing staff the opportunity to step into leadership roles or take on additional responsibilities is a method of rewarding their performance and can help identify promotable individuals. Opportunities to take on leadership roles can motivate staff, so be aware of opportunities that allow staff to take on roles outside of their day-to-day job. This could involve anything from covering for an absent manager to being the main point of contact for a new project or service.

Key Performance Indicators
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is the measure of performance of an activity that is critical to the success of an organization.

Recruitment and induction

Attracting, retaining, and developing valuable support staff is essential for a good service. To achieve this a rigorous recruitment system needs to be created and implemented. This should include induction and training procedures with standard training packages developed for each role within support teams. For example, industry best practice qualifications such as ITIL Foundation could be used as training. Best practice qualifications could also be supplemented with bespoke internal courses, such as IT Security and Equality and Diversity Training. Opportunities to consolidate learning should be provided, either through refresher sessions or by providing staff with time to enhance what they have learned. I have found it useful to set specific metrics and KPIs around staff training could also be used to demonstrate commitment to development. Overall, training must be treated as an ongoing development mechanism.

Call coaching

Support teams could be provided with call coaching, which will provide both the individual and management with an effective development mechanism. Call coaching can assist the management team in understanding individual skill levels, as well as the quality of processes and procedures. It is a useful method of ensuring that the teams are performing at their best, as well as providing staff with the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge. Although they are time consuming to implement, one-to-one coaching sessions will continually enhance the performance and productivity of support teams. Organizing one-to-one training demonstrates a commitment to staff progression and will be act as a motivator for staff.

Variety

Working in support can be a high-pressured environment. Creating variety and interest in the role can help relieve some of the pressures faced by support staff. It can be worth making a bit of effort to ensure the role is a varied and interesting as possible; nobody wants to take phone calls for eight hours a day, weeks and months on end! It can be beneficial to ensure that each person has the opportunity to work in a different area of the service. For example, by rotating phone, face to face, and email support, as well as providing staff with the opportunity to work in different areas on different services. Not only does this make the role more varied, but it helps staff develop greater knowledge about the business and learn new skills.

Skills matrix

The development and implementation of a skills matrix is an effective mechanism for understanding the skill level of each team member. A skills matrix should list all of the skills, the knowledge and experience required for each role, and focus on the customer service viewpoint as well as the technical need. A skills matrix can also identify hidden talents among staff. The benefits of a skills matrix to the individual is that it improves their understanding of their current level of competencies, what they have to offer, and where there are areas for improvement. The benefits of a skills matrix from a team perspective is that it can help the team understand their strengths and weaknesses. A skills matrix can also accentuate any areas where knowledge could be shared among the team. Moreover, a skills matrix could assist managers in understanding any high-risk areas, understand any single points of failure, and where development should be focused. Accordingly, a skills matrix should be used to identify gaps in knowledge and experience. A development plan should then be created to address these gaps. This should be done in a positive manner, with a focus on the development opportunities. A skills matrix should not be used for managing performance and capability issues. The use of a skills matrix in a negative way can lead to distrust and a lack of honesty around skills, ultimately undermining the whole process.


Measuring employee satisfaction and engagement

The most productive staff are often found in organizations that care most about staff wellbeing. Employees that are treated with respect, receive regular recognition, have positive management and leadership teams, and are given the opportunity to develop, are typically happy. Happy staff are likely to put more effort into delivering a great service. It is therefore necessary to take the time to understand satisfaction and engagement within the team.

The terms satisfaction and engagement are often used interchangeably when describing the general employee mood, but they do in fact have separate meanings. Satisfied employees are happy in their day-to-day role and feel that they are treated fairly by the organization, whereas engaged employees are passionate about their work and will take a proactive role in driving improvement. Satisfied staff will keep the service functioning yet make little progress. However, engaged staff are truly committed to the delivery of excellent service. It is important to understand the difference between satisfaction and engagement when considering survey questions, as it would be sensible to measure the responses to both terms.

Employee satisfaction and engagement surveys can provide an understanding of the issues and concerns within the team, enabling you to address them early before they start to impact the service and the performance of the team. They also provide individuals with the opportunity to raise issues that they may not be comfortable with doing face-to-face. However, it is essential that any information provided by staff will be confidential and treated sensitively.

The questions included in employee satisfaction and engagement surveys must be carefully considered. They must cover topics such as: an understanding of the role and organizational fit, experiences of management and leadership, opportunities for personal and professional development, communications, environmental factors such as office space, the effectiveness and appropriateness of reward and recognition initiatives and so on.

It can be useful to have a third party deliver and manage the survey process. This can ensure that team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions, regardless of whether they are negative or positive. Avoid asking any questions that cannot or will not be addressed as this can devalue the process and leave staff feeling overlooked. When the responses have been received the results should be analysed and any specific issues or areas of concern identified. When you have this information, you can use focus groups or workshops to further explore the issues and come up with the appropriate action plans. It is imperative that your feedback and results are shared openly with employees. Transparency is key to building trust and using the information to take positive action will develop further engagement with future surveys. The frequency of the surveys will depend on the size of the teams and the level of staff turnover. Nonetheless, there should be a survey at least annually, as things can change significantly within the space of a year. It can also be useful to track the data over time. This can demonstrate the impact that any action plans have had on satisfaction and engagement levels and accentuate any improvements.

High satisfaction and engagement imply a potentially lower staff turnover rate. Consequently, there would be a reduction in costs as fewer individuals will need to be hired and trained. This will also result in a retention of skills and knowledge as staff will stay on for longer. Although challenging at times, employee satisfaction and engagement surveys can be positive. Surveys can accentuate concerns that management leaders were not aware of yet could be easily addressed.

Celebrating success

To celebrate success, good performance needs to be recognized and rewarded by managers and leaders. The celebration of success can boost motivation and lead to the continuous development of team performance. Consider the accomplishments that can be celebrated at an organizational, team, and individual level. The celebration of success can aid managers and leaders in keeping their teams motivated, as well as keeping the teams focused on achieving the common goal.

External recognition

Industry awards are another method for recognizing and celebrating success. Furthermore, having the team involved in writing the submissions can be a great team building exercise. There are several awards that are specific to the service management community. These include: the IT Service and Support Awards run by the Service Desk Institute, the Professional Service Management Awards run by the IT Service Management Forum and the UK IT Industry Awards all of which focus on the contribution of individuals, teams, projects and organizations that are excelling in their area or field. Simply putting an individual or team forward for an award can have a really positive impact as it demonstrates that the organization values the contribution of staff. Encouraging and enabling people to give presentations and sessions at industry events raises the profile of services and provides the speaker with a sense of achievement.

Internal recognition

Another low-cost, but impactful, method of celebrating success is by having articles and blogs published in internal publications which recognize the achievements of individuals and teams. Celebratory events after big successes can also have a positive impact. In the past I have held events following service accreditation and the completion of big projects. These events were attended by team members, customers, and senior management. We made them fun occasions with speeches, nice food and even champagne. Recognition from senior management should not be underestimated and can play a key role in improving motivation and performance. Recognition can include anything from public acknowledgement of good customer service to a personal handwritten note. Positive praise from the highest levels of the organization can provide a boost to the support teams who are at the front line of service delivery.

Rewards

An army marches on its stomach but a support team delivers with pizza. Food can be a great, low cost method of rewarding and recognizing staff effort. It is also important to use the more formal methods of reward, such as bonus schemes and cash incentives for hitting targets. There have been a number of interesting reward methods, such as granting staff an extra day’s holiday, a VIP car parking pass, and a months’ worth of free coffee.

Always be clear about what has gone well and be specific about the who, what, and when as this can reinforce organizational values and encourage more of the preferred behaviour.

Finally, an often-overlooked method of recognizing success is saying ‘well done’ to the individual or the team. People value being praised, especially if this is done in a timely and specific method.

Customer feedback

Customer satisfaction is one of the most important mechanisms for understanding if a service is meeting customer expectations by delivering the expected standard of service. Customer satisfaction can be found through customer feedback mechanisms. These can provide many useful insights into what customers think and feel about the service they received, and it can also have an impact on staff performance. Acknowledgement from customers is a powerful method of increasing motivation in support teams. It also shows staff that customers value and appreciate their hard work.

Customer feedback can be a great method for recognizing excellent customer service Share customer feedback with key stakeholders including the senior management team and implement a process for capturing and recording customer compliments. This will provide you with data that can be used to benchmark and trend customer satisfaction levels, demonstrating improvements over time or highlight areas for development.

Customer feedback can be used on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to celebrate success. Social media can be used to promote instances where a team member has gone above and beyond to deliver a great customer experience. The team member will feel proud of their achievement and the followers will gain an insight into an organizational culture that celebrates success.

Customer feedback can be used to empower employees. Staff should have the knowledge and ability to deal with issues and act on customer feedback. When staff can achieve a successful outcome for a customer who was initially unhappy, this will lead to tremendous morale boost and contribute to a feeling of empowerment.

Customer feedback and customer satisfaction levels are often the key drivers for continual service improvement plans and initiatives. They can be used to help teams and individuals understand the need for improvement. This is particularly useful when there is a reluctance to accept the need for change.

Building a team culture

A team does not simply work together, they need to respect and trust one another. It is also important that they get to have some fun along the way. Teamwork should be a core value and it must be documented in the code of conduct. Show commitment to teamwork by allowing the team to seize the initiative.

It is essential that teams have the opportunity to meet regularly in a designated and appropriate space (say no to team meetings in the crowded and noisy cafeteria). This can be a real challenge for staff working on the front line, yet this is achievable through careful planning and support from other teams. All employees should be given the time to prepare and attend team meetings, as well as completing any follow up activities.

Ensure that targets, metrics and KPIs are focused on team and individual goals. Targets should allow teams to contribute and lead important and strategic projects that require a great amount of collaboration.

Job shadowing and secondments can build cross team collaboration. When employees understand the workings of various teams they can have more empathy towards their colleagues and can be better able to make decisions that support the overall organization. It can also be helpful to have senior management spend a few days each year working in support on the front line. Consequently, support staff will feel valued and senior management will gain an insight into the challenges faced by customers and employees. During major incidents and busy periods when the pressure is really on, be ready to roll up your sleeves and help out. Sometimes this needs to be simple things like making drinks or getting sandwiches, but it does send an important message: “we are all in it together”.

Encourage the team to participate in activities outside of the day-to-day job. Cake bakes, sponsored sport activities and other charitable initiatives are great for team building and can bring some fun to the working day. Social activities outside of the work place can build a team but be aware of different cultures and preferences. It is important that events are inclusive.

A team is only as good as the individuals in it, do not only consider the skills and knowledge required when recruiting, instead consider how the team will work together as a whole. Diversity is essential for high performing teams, so focus on producing the right mix of skills, knowledge, personality, and attitude. Recruit for the team and not for the role.

In addition, recognizing and celebrating success is not the sole responsibility of management, and should instead involve every single team member. Get your team to praise each other and celebrate their successes as a team.

Summary

If you are serious about creating an empowered and high performing workforce, treat staff well, listen to what they have to say, be helpful, and give them room to develop. Employees who are paid well, challenged, and appreciated, will deliver an amazing customer experience.

  • For people to be successful in their roles they need to understand what is expected of them and how their work supports the organization. Provide a clear sense of direction by creating a strong team vision and mission statement and implementing a code of conduct. These must be implemented in reality.
  • Professional development is a great motivator. Staff given continuous evaluation and training can deliver a higher level of customer service. A good development plan will contain a mix of formal qualifications, coaching and mentoring and job shadowing opportunities. However, training is not a one-off activity, staff need to be given the time and opportunity to absorb what they have learned.
  • Measuring employee satisfaction and engagement will enable you to understand issues within the team and act on them before they impact performance. It is imperative that the data is handled sensitively and confidentially. Positive action taken in a timely way will develop trust, demonstrate that leadership are listening, and build engagement with future surveys. High satisfaction and engagement levels will reduce staff turnover and cost. Remember, you cannot manage what you cannot measure.
  • It is the role of management and leadership to celebrate success. Celebrating and rewarding success will help the team to consistently strive to achieve common goals and is a great way to reinforce motivation. Always be very clear about what has gone well, be specific about who, what, and when, and think about what accomplishments at an organizational, team, and individual level should be celebrated.
  • There are many insights to be gained from asking customers for their feedback. Acknowledgement from customers is one of the most powerful motivators for staff working in support as it shows them that customers value and appreciate what they do. Customer feedback can also be used to empower employees. Giving teams and individuals the ability to achieve successful outcomes for unhappy customers is a great morale booster and will give them a strong sense of empowerment.
  • A team is not just a group of people that work together, but a group of people that respect, trust and care about each other. To create a successful team culture, employees should be given the time and space to meet regularly. Targets and KPIs should be team focused and cross collaboration should be actively encouraged. Social activities outside of work are great for team building but ensure that these are inclusive of everyone.

The creation of high performing teams can be challenging. Yet, setting resources aside and making a proactive effort to reward and recognize teams will result in a hardworking, enthusiastic, and positive workforce.

About the author

Sally Bogg is a motivated and adaptable ITSM professional, who has worked in Higher Education IT for over 12 years. She has experience of developing and delivering high quality sector-leading support services. Sally has also created respected, motivated and award-winning teams. She is a Winner of the Everywoman Team Leader of the Year 2019, Women in IT Business Role Model of the Year 2018, and Inspirational Leader of the Year 2017. Sally is a passionate supporter of the enhancement and empowerment advancement of women in tech and is well known across the ITSM and Service Desk Industry.

Happy people give great service