Customer Experience News & Trends

Forget training: Keep the water cooler full instead

If you see a group gathered around the water cooler, and are inclined to tell them to get back to work, stop yourself. You’ll be getting in the way of an improved customer experience.

Whether it’s contact center employees, sales reps or marketing professionals, if they’re near the water cooler (or any other communal gathering place), they’re likely doing a lot more than wasting time.

More than 70% of workplace learning and idea sharing happens informally, according to a study from the CARA Group, Inc.

Employees usually ask work-related questions and share important information when they’re in unstructured settings such as the break room, a hallway or even the restroom.

Stop gossip, encourage chit-chat

Leaders will want to stop any kind of gossip or negative talk they overhear at the water cooler, but otherwise, there’s not much harm in letting employees linger a bit longer if they’re talking business.

Some other ideas, inspired by the unstructured learning and sharing that takes place around water coolers, that managers can capitalize on:

  • Create project teams. Assign employees who don’t normally work together to a team to work out customer issues or plan a customer experience event.
  • Mentoring. Make mentoring situations a two-way learning street by pairing veteran and new employees, and asking them to share three things they’ve learned from each other every month.
  • Build an online community. Many companies create an in-house portal where employees across departments can pose questions, and exchange answers and ideas on how to deal with certain customer situations. One key that works well in this informal setting is to keep management out of the chats.

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