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Why ‘quiet quitting’ could ruin customer experiences (and what to do about it)

360 Magazine 
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Why ‘quiet quitting’ could ruin customer experiences (and what to do about it)

The customer’s basic troubleshooting issue has been resolved, but taking a little extra time to explain another common pitfall could make their experience better in the long term. Your service agent, however, decides not to bother and moves to the next customer in the queue.

Personalizing the kind of communication a customer receives could make them more likely to purchase, but the marketer in charge of the campaign would have to redo elements based on the data to segment the list properly. They hit the “send” button on the existing campaign instead.

The concierge at a hotel, the greeter at a retail store entrance, the delivery person – they could all smile or do a little extra to surprise and delight a customer. But they just . . . don’t.

While the concept of “quiet quitting” – where employees do the bare minimum on the job rather than resign outright — has been making headlines for the past few weeks, little has been focused on the implications for customer experience (CX) design and management.

CX practitioners often talk about orchestrating a seamless, consistent and ideally outstanding journey for customers, where going above and beyond in some way could lead to long-term loyalty and increased business. If those on the frontlines responsible for executing CX are quiet quitting, however, much of the effort to develop a strategy might be wasted.

Quiet quitting may be difficult to quantify, but Gallup recently published a report that aligned it with the company’s data on those described as “not engaged” at work. This represents half of the U.S. workforce, Gallup said. The “loud quitters” who tend to leave would fall into those who Gallup calls actively disengaged, which makes up 18 per cent of employees. Approximately 32 per cent are engaged.

At CircleIt, a Chicago-based firm that offers technology to help families communicate, CX has been a big area of focus in 2022, its founder and CEO Art Shaikh said.

“Quiet quitting would impact that in many ways,” he told 360 Magazine. “One big way would be a lack of response to customer inquiries, or a lackluster attempt at improving the experience on the web or in-app. Customer reviews are a good way to learn whether or not your team is dialed in when it comes to providing a good CX across your channels.”

While Shaikh said he hasn’t run into quiet quitting at CircleIt so far, he said the other general signs he looks for include seeing lower quality work and deadlines being missed.

“One major red flag might be consistent avoidance of meetings, especially from a team member that was once very much punctual and present,” he said.

Denise Graziano, an organizational communication and change consultant based in Fairfield, Conn., suggested quiet quitting is related to a handful of what she calls “risky imbalances” that can Keep businesses from the results they expect. No. 5 on Graziano’s list, for instance, is Customer listening and loyalty.

“Regardless of where any quiet quitters work in an organization, if they happen to be individuals who provide any customer outcomes, they can drive customers away,” said Graziano, noting research from McKinsey that found 90 per cent of consumers switched brands in 2021 and would continue to do so. “It does not take much to drive customers away.”

Some worry, however, that the term “quiet quitting” obscures a deeper reality that impacts customer experiences. Tony Johnson, a customer service speaker and trainer based in Orlando, recently posted a YouTube video in which he lambasted employers that expect team members to constantly “give 200 per cent” by working past five or answering phones on the weekends.

“Employers have historically demanded loyalty far exceeding what they’re willing to give in return and employees have simply accept it. Well, that time is over,” he said. “If your business model is predicated on your team consistently going above and beyond at breakneck speeds while doing the job of three people, your model is broken and you might just be a terrible leader.”

Jeremy Braidish, chief people officer at Redwood City, Calif.-based Cyara, agreed.

“Quiet quitting, doing the bare minimum, slacking and/or taking long lunches isn’t new. People have long been doing the bare minimum because of bad jobs, low pay, lack of advancement and abusive behaviors from managers,” he said.

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The antidote to quiet quitting is not managerial nagging, Braidish said, but ensuring employee experiences are based on respect, meaningful work and fair pay.

“If those things are true for an employee, then I’d also ask that they embrace the concept that those who ‘go the extra mile’ will be viewed more favorably by those making rewards and advancement decisions,” he added.

Shaikh said the ongoing debate over where employees work may have a strong influence in the degree of quiet quitting happening in the ranks. That’s one the reasons CircleIt has chosen to adopt a hybrid model.

“It helps to have team members working in-office together on a regular basis, so a cadence is kept with CX related matters,” he said. “When team members are talking and engaged, there is far less chance that anyone will quietly quit and fade into the background. I think that this has been a more prevalent phenomenon in a strictly WFH culture.”

One of the best ways companies can increase engagement is to reinforce the impact each employee has on customers’ lives, as well as company mission, Graziano said. There also needs to be a way to see quiet quitting happening before it creates friction in the customer journey.

“At a policy level, unless performance metrics are in place, the first line of defense should be managerial intervention to find out what could be causing the issues,” she said. “Regardless if the employee works in CX, quiet quitting can have a devastating impact.”

Johnson said it’s also a matter of developing the right culture, which can set the stage for better CX.

“Your goal is to create an enabled and empowered workforce that’s willing to do just a little bit extra when it really matters and trust you as a leader to compensate them for extra projects and time when appropriate and reasonable,” he said. “If your team knows what’s expected of them and you’re crystal clear about performance that creates an environment where employees can thrive, they’ll pass that care along to their customers.”

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