It feels like customer service -- or rather, the lack thereof -- is making headlines on a daily basis lately.

Comcast is one example of a company that has faced service misstep after misstep. And these blunders are having a lasting impact on Comcast’s brand. A recent report from SurveyMonkey found that Comcast’s customer service woes have left the company ranking lowest among cable providers when it comes to customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Comcast isn’t the only company struggling due to customer service crises. Other major brands like Walmart, American Airlines and Bank of America have all suffered from the crippling backlash of poor service departments. It’s no secret that poor customer service can negatively affect a brand’s popularity, if not permanently tarnish its reputation.

So how can businesses prevent these Comcast-sized service blunders? Recognize that customer service success starts at the source.

To keep your customers happy, keep your service representatives happy. Our help desk at Harbortouch provides payment system support for more than 60,000 retail and hospitality clients. With a department of that size, and calls ranging from technical questions to complaints, it’s a challenge to keep employees from feeling burnt out.

Whether you’re managing an enterprise with a service department of over 100 reps or a small business with only a dozen people in the department, there are easy ways to improve the happiness of your customer service workforce that go beyond salary and benefits. 

Offer Longer Breaks

A survey from Right Management found that just one in five employees take an actual lunch break, with 28 percent reporting they rarely take any break during the day whatsoever. It may sound simple, but providing customer service employees a few extra minutes to take a break can make all the difference when it comes to employee happiness and performance.

Additional time to relax not only allows reps to burn off some steam and handle the next call complaint with a level head, but it also improves concentration and energy levels throughout the day. 

Rethink the Traditional Break Room 

Customer service is a thankless job, and executives need to understand the pressures this department can face. Our service department -- like many others -- works around the clock to handle customer's questions and concerns. This makes it difficult for reps to turn off the day's accumulated stress.  

Consider providing a “Zen den” instead of a traditional break room to give employees a much deserved break during work hours. Depending on your employees’ interests or needs, perks like massage chairs or video games could help them unwind during stressful call hours.

Or, take it a step further and personalize the entire office environment based on your business. Etsy for example created a casual, vintage-inspired atmosphere at its Brooklyn headquarters, and even offers employees a crafting space and DIY speaker series as added perks. 

Make It Personal

I am personally copied on every customer service email -- positive or negative. CEOs are busy, but being aware of complaints allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of your company and correct larger, underlying problems that may be causing customer dissatisfaction.

The benefits of this practice spread beyond the service department. Being on these emails can help surface ways to innovate and improve products or business practices more quickly to meet common demands from clients.

When it comes to boosting customer satisfaction, executives need to start by improving the job satisfaction and retention rates of their frontline workers. Brands that recognize the importance of investing in people, in addition to store or technology improvements, will deliver better customer service experiences as employees feel empowered to do their job well.

A demonstrated level of commitment to your service department will be reflected in every customer interaction.

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