How will the “Great Resignation” impact customer service? With so many people quitting present jobs and searching for new opportunities (including changing industries and entrepreneurism), existing company resources are being stressed and strained. Moving forward, this will adversely impact the ability of companies to maintain and/or improve customer service levels and commitments.
Customer service is being negatively impacted by “The Great Resignation” in two primary ways: fewer resources to handle the workload adequately; and declining morale among those who stay, leading to burnout and less motivation to provide great customer service.
A CNBC.com report highlights the malaise: “Carol Sloane, a project manager based in New Jersey, is getting burned out. Several members of her team have left in the past few months, which means an increase in responsibilities and new projects on her plate. It’s resulted in a longer work day. ‘There’s just not enough hours in the day with some of the things we’re being asked to do,’ Sloane said.”
The article continues: “Much has been made about the ‘Great Resignation’ and the abundance of Americans looking to leave their jobs. A record 4.3 million quit their jobs in August alone, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Those left behind are feeling the pain. Following their former coworkers’ departures, 52% of those who chose to stay at their jobs said they’ve taken on more responsibilities, a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found. Moreover, 30% report struggling to get necessary work done, 27% feel less loyalty to their organization and 55% now question whether their pay is high enough, according to the survey, which polled 1,150 employed U.S. adults in July.”
Even when departing employees aren’t directly responsible for customer service, the overall workforce strain undoubtedly is impacting customer service competence and commitment nonetheless. A project manager who can’t do the job fully because of waning resources can result in a degradation of products or services, in turn putting more pressure on customer service reps to remedy more problems in more areas.
A domino effect is at play as well. The article notes, “‘There’s this vicious cycle. Employees leave, which means all of their work has to be done by the remaining employees who remain,’ said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Society of Human Resource Management. ‘The employees who remain now say, “I’m working too hard, I don’t have balance in my life, etc.” And so then they want to leave and thus a vicious cycle continues,’ Taylor added.”
The article adds that it costs a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace that person—further straining finances at the same time productivity is lessened. This is making the dominos fall even faster.
What can companies do in an effort to lessen customer service fallout due to The Great Resignation?
1. Communicate clearly and transparently with the marketplace about challenges. Much as what occurred during the earlier days of the pandemic when resources were compromised for a variety of reasons, let customers and other stakeholders know that customer service outcomes may be hampered a bit. By clearly informing folks, companies can buy some goodwill, tolerance, and patience. Those who feel entitled to customer service “business as usual” no matter what may just need to suck it up.
2. Offer something in return for the extra time and trouble. Where financially and logistically feasible, proactively offer some type of compensation for those experiencing customer service problems. This needs to be something more than a pittance, as that can further anger people. On the other hand, anything perceived as a legitimate offer will be mostly appreciated. For example, offering a customer who’s experienced a weeklong Internet disruption a pro-rated monthly credit is worse than nothing at all. That level of dysfunction—unless due to an uncontrollable situation such as a storm knocking out power and connections—merits a much more substantial form of compensation.
3. Double down on efforts to show empathy. When connecting with frustrated, angry customers, be sincerely empathic about the situation. Don’t offer obviously scripted apologies. Let people know in straightforward, human terms that there is caring and concern, and a committed effort to make it right, and keep it right, as soon as possible.