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  • Writer's pictureJoel Thiessen

New Direction! No Problem!

"I'm changing my customer service team! My team can't seem to match the new vision!"

I have heard this a few times.

Maybe a little more than a few.

The pivot is hard to do, I've had to do it a few times.

I remember working at FootLocker when I was 19 years old.

My manager got fired and I was given the helm of the store as they transitioned.

I was managing two of my best friends.

It wasn't easy.

In 2018, I was working in a Canadian Restaurant and bar called Boston Pizza with an amazing team during a corporate take-over.

90% of the staff left and I was the only one of the management team that stayed through the transition.

It wasn't easy.

I did learn some amazing things about transition that I can apply to customer service teams.

  • You cannot expect people to pick up on what isn't communicated to them

This is true for everybody.

Your customer service team will operate on the last instructions you give them.

In transition to a new direction, you need to explicitly tell your team what changes you want made and then you need to hold them to those changes.

If you tell your team that you want to make a change and never follow up on that change, your team will go back to the way things used to be.

You want your entire team to be walking in the same direction or you will be playing tug-o-war and expending a lot of energy without moving.

This is why weekly coaching is absolutely necessary when you are going through transition.

  • Write down the vision

If you want something to change, you have to write down what you want to change.

Be specific.

If you don't do this, your people will never be able to refer back to it when a question arises.

Businesses die for lack of vision.

If you don't write the vision down it becomes ethereal, unspecific, and hard to follow.

Do yourself and your team a favor. Write down your vision.

  • Remove team members who aren't on board.

One of the hardest things to do is to fire a member of your team.

I've had to do it plenty.

Sometimes they are amazing people, but they just don't buy in to what you are doing.

You give them chance after chance. Coaching after coaching. Every opportunity to change.

If nothing changes, you have to move on to a team that will support the new vision.

How do I know the time is right to move on from a customer service employee while in transition?

  1. You have been explicit on what needs to change

  2. You have written down their QAs and their coaching commitments

  3. When nothing happens after their many weekly coaching sessions

If these have all happened, it is time to move on and stop playing tug-o-war.

I don't like doing this part of the job, but it has to be done.

For the health of your company, you have to do it.

For the health of your team you have to do it.

If you think that you are in this situation with your team, please let me know and I can walk you through how to part ways with an agent and some of the best practices that we use. Message me on LinkedIn or email me at

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