In 1963, the State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (we call them Hanover Insurance today) paid Harvey Bell $45 for a quick design. In just ten minutes, he created the iconic version of the smiley face with a bright yellow background, creases on the sides of the mouth, and black oval eyes. The thought behind the design was simple – he crafted a happy face to make the company’s employees happier. Happy employees mean the phone got answered with a smile.
The same idea holds true today. If your team is happy, they’ll help customers better.
“It’s really easy to get cynical when you are exposed to people making shit up, or being angry about a bug. Encouraging folks to have fun, lets them deliver those smiles”
– Jim Mackenzie @mackesque.
So what’s the magic formula? Like all things in life, there’s not a silver bullet answer. But here’s a few things you can do to keep your team happy.
It’s the cornerstone for an effective and happy team. Trusting them shows that you value them and see them as adults rather than cubicle workers that are easily replaced.
I ran into this firsthand when I was training a person. Even though they looked great as a candidate, their first few weeks didn’t go well. My boss asked several of us for a candid opinion on if they could make it on our team. Then he made the final decision based on our thoughts.
It sounds like a trivial situation at first but it’s the first time I had a boss really listen and trust me. When it comes to hiring and firing, there’s a lot on the line. The right fit can make and break a team. Having my boss trust me and the team on our evaluation of a candidate was a huge display of trust.
Trusting your team shows that you value them, which goes a long way with making them happier overall.
People need growth. Customer support is a profession just like designing, programming, or anything else. That means each person on your team should get better at their job over the course of time.
Part of growing lies in reviewing your past. For me, that happens in a few ways. I have others on my team review my interactions with customers, especially ones where the customer rated me poorly. I’ve learned new ways phrase things and different ideas to try from that.
Full one-on-ones are great too. Every few months, I get a chance to do a one-on-one with my boss. It gives us a chance to chat about how things have gone and where I’d like to go from here. He gets to make sure I’m pushing forward and working to make support for our customers better.
This is more of a challenge with the support profession than others. While in the restaurant world, food conferences were a dime a dozen. People in sales have so many conferences that attending them could be their full-time job. Us support folks? Eh, not so much.
That’s all the more reason to go when you can. UserConf is a great conference focused on customer support done right. You’ll be among like-minded people who love to talk about what’s worked and what doesn’t work for their teams. I got a chance to be one of the speakers for the first one and loved it. If you’re on a support team, don’t miss this one.
Don’t focus on just support conferences. Try a design conference to learn more about designing your help section. Or visit a programming one to pick up on some of the language that your programmers speak. The more variety, the more you’ll grow.
People love to celebrate. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – it doesn’t matter the reason, people just like to get together and cheer on each other. It makes us happy.
Highlight the wins that your team has. With our team, the first time someone hits 100 on Smiley, we make a huge deal of it. Our Campfire chat room explodes in congrats and just about every emoji and song possible. We do the same for anniversaries of people’s start date. Those are natural points to celebrate those achievements.
Celebrating these wins gives your team a boost to keep going. It shows that the team is in it together, which makes each person feel like they’re part of something. Especially if you’re working on a remote team, that celebration reinforces this togetherness. When one person wins, the team wins.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Boring companies are boring to work for. And how many people have you seen that are happy to be bored? None.
Many workplaces out there seem to encourage a “show up, do the work, and go home” mentality. I’ve worked in places like that and they’re a drain. Sure, you have moments of happiness but overall it’s the proverbial rat race.
To keep your team happy, have fun together.
- Go out bowling.
- Have a fancy dinner.
- See a movie.
- Play laser tag.
- Have a puppy party.
People are happy when they’re having fun.
A Happy Team
Every company preaches the importance of happy customers. Make your customers happy. Keep your customers happy. Every happy customer is one more that’s out telling others about your product.
But those happy customers come from the interactions with your team. If your team isn’t creating those great customer experiences, there’s no way you’ll have a happy customer. It all starts with your team.
It’s a simple idea that most companies skip right over. If your team is happy, they’ll create happy customers.
What types of things do you do to keep your team happy?
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