Sarah Metcalfe, Head of Customer Service at Sure Petcare, is a certified Chief Happiness Officer. She tells us why happy companies have better service and gives us 5 tips to create a happy workplace.
What a Chief Happiness Officer does
Sarah, you are a certified Chief Happiness Officer, can you tell us more about that and what you do?
You bet! I have been very passionate about creating happy workplace, and more specifically how having a happy workforce creates amazing customer service. After years of research I was lucky enough to attend the Woohoo Inc. Chief Happiness Academy Officer training this year in Denmark, along with attendees from 15 other countries. We went deep into the science of happiness at work, and why more than ever it is one of the most important things for businesses to focus on. Especially if they are focussed on creating great customer experiences.
Sarah joined Sure Petcare in 2010, taking responsibility for the company’s customer service and guiding it through an extraordinary period of expansion and growth. She now leads a talented multi-lingual team who deliver outstanding customer service and happiness to all Sure Petcare customers around the world.
Sarah is passionate about happiness in the workplace, and she knows the positive impact this has on the customer experience. Through continuing to innovate and improve the customer journey, Sure Petcare now has an Net Promoter Score of 90+ in over 20 countries around the world.
Sarah also runs her own consulting company Happy Coffee Consulting to help companies create great customer service & happy workplaces.
Sarah has trained with Happy Ltd, and Woohoo Inc, and has recently become a certified partner of Woohoo Inc and a certified Chief Happiness Officer to provide training & keynotes on creating happiness at work.
How to create a happy workplace
Could you share with our readers some examples of how you create a happy workplace at Sure Petcare and what first step would you recommend other companies to start with to promote a happy workplace?
At Sure Petcare we have always focussed on having a happy workplace. Right from my first day with the company I’ve been happier than I ever had at work. We do a lot of great things, but some of my top tips are:
Hiring for Attitude – in most jobs you can train people to do anything, but you can’t train people to have the rigth attitude. We like to hire people that are friendly, kind and happy themselves. We can teach them the rest.
Building a Culture of Trust – We are very lucky in that our culture of trust is built into our business. We trust our staff to do what’s right, but we also trust our customers. We encourage our customer service agents to trust our customers so there are no bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get help.
Communication is also key – ensuring that our team are included in all information about the company and products – so they can always feel that they are telling the customer the truth – and that they have the answers to give customers.
One way we give our staff freedom and autonomy is that our customer service staff are not given any scripting. We trust them to say and do the right thing for the customer. This also extends to our customers. We trust that they are calling us with a genuine problem, and have no intent to “try one over” on us.
Listen to your frontline staff – these people speak to your customers day in and day out. This is quite literallly their job. They are your best source of wisdom into customers pain points, and how your business could improve to create a better customer experience. I recommend senior leaders build in time in their day to take phone calls, or at very least have a coffee with frontline staff to open up lines of communication and understand the challenges.
Let’s talk about voice assistants
What impact do they have on customer experience and what will be the role of both intelligent voice assistants and the contact centre in the future of customer service?
I think voice assistants (like any of the technologies we have access to in customer service) can be a great source of assisting our staff. It can be used to remove transactional calls and assist customers to get their information in a timely and professional fashion at any time.
However I think there are a few things to consider, that we should always consider when implementing the “next big thing” in customer service. We should have a real plan for implementation, and ensure that it is fit for our business use case. Don’t just adopt technology so that you are in every channel or using the newest technology. Nothing frustrates customers more than technology that doesn’t work properly.
The second thing to ensure is that you are very clear about where and when to use VA’s. As expert & thought leader Martin Hill-Wilson says “Use people when the interactions are emotional, when it’s complex, and when it matters to the relationship”. Use voice recognition for transactional pieces that don’t need an emotional relationship with your company. Getting this wrong will mean your customer experience suffers.
The future of customer service
What do you think will be the next big thing that will disrupt the field of customer service?
I think the next big thing in customer service will be really leveraging the technology to provide true proactive customer service. Using all the data, analytics and bots to our advantage to understand where customer problems are, before they even know they had a problem. This tech will be supported by the foundation of the human customer experience. Truly valuing customer service professionals as the important pieces of the business they are. Understanding that their emotional intelligence is key to a successful business.
“The future of customer service will be happy, engaged human contact centres who are not constrained by bad technology, who are truly able and empowered to help customers.”