Advancing your customer service training

Regardless of an organisation’s size or sector, its success will rely on happy and satisfied customers. If treated with respect and given the attention they deserve, purchasers and patrons will keep on coming back for more. With any luck, they’ll also tell one or two people about their favourable experience and recommend your business to even more potential clientele.

But even if contented customers speak highly of your business, this positivity could be outweighed by negative comments. People are much more likely to leave bad reviews or condemn a company if they didn’t receive a suitable level of service. What’s more, it is much more difficult to rectify a substandard reputation than maintain a favourable one.

Therefore, customer service should be considered a priority for every business. However saying this is one thing and getting your staff to actually translate the company’s culture into action is another. Thankfully, this can be achieved through appropriate training.

Having said that, this creates another problem. Certain members of staff won’t be very receptive to traditional training techniques and can lose interest very quickly. This is particularly true if they consider it to be a temporary position or don’t have much passion for the role.

For this reason, you might need to advance your customer service training to improve attitudes, increase interest and enhance expertise. But how can you make this possible?

Daily line-up meetings

Even though the vast majority of customer service representatives perform technical responsibilities on a daily basis, which they will comprehensively understand and be able to carry out to a high standard, certain aspects of their job will be very different and can’t be defined.

And if a business wants to deliver a great service, it needs to recognise that each and every employee will encounter new challenges and obstacles all the time. To address this, the Ritz-Carlton developed the daily line-up meeting, which only takes a couple of minutes each day, but enables employees to discuss one or more of the key principles of customer service.

This example can work wonders for any organisation according to Micah Solomon, a customer service consultant, speaker and author. He says that if you schedule a daily meeting time for every division of your company at once, customer service will undoubtedly improve.

“I know that every industry and every company culture is different,” he says. “I’m far from dogmatic about applying what you could call the daily ‘standup routine’ to every business situation. I have, however, seen companies make revolutionary improvements from implementing this approach.”

Board games

Listening to a teacher talk about enhancing the customer’s experience or watching a video of how not to deal with complaints can be rather boring. As a result, employees won’t listen to what they are being told and could struggle to recall important information or principles.

With this in mind, KFC decided to inject some fun into its customer service training program by commissioning students at Sullivan College of Technology and Design to create a board game. This would be rolled out to members of staff across 4,600 KFC stores in the United States in an attempt to improve attitudes and expertise.

“For us, it was really exciting because students have unique ideas. They are not totally immersed in the corporate world. They think differently,” said Kathy Gosser, director of breakthrough training and readiness at KFC.

The game was based on Monopoly and required employees to answer certain questions while making their way around the board. But in addition to increasing enjoyment, the combined elements of competition and excitement are much more memorable than tedious classroom teaching.

The same can be said for Wranx’s gamification model, which encourages employees to take part in various challenges and compete with colleagues to achieve a higher position on leaderboards.

Regular training exercises

A lot can be said for implementing one or two training courses every year and having members of staff attend. However, some organisations might find it more beneficial to introduce regular training exercises, which constantly revisit the most crucial aspects of customer service.  Ideas include:

Role-playing – Get employees to assume the position of a customer and act out real-life scenarios or situations. You can also ask members of staff to pair up, serve each other, rate performances and make suggestions. 

Demonstrations – Get employees to demonstrate how they would deal with angry customers or unhappy patrons. You can also ask members of staff to explain product or service information, so other employees can fill gaps in their knowledge.

Teamwork – Get employees to work with people they wouldn’t do normally, as this also helps your personnel learn. You can also ask members of staff from other departments to contribute their thoughts and opinions too.

Enduring tips

Even though you can implement new and novel techniques or tactics to up skill your customer service staff, there are various foolproof and ensuring tips that any business can benefit from.

Understand your customers – If you identify and recognise customer requirements, you’ll be in a better position to address their wants and needs.

Harness the power of customer feedback – Don’t shy away from negative comments or criticism. Harness its potential and use customer feedback to your advantage.

Set clear standards – Make sure your staff know what is required of them and provide constant reminders.

Reward strong performers – Although this will maintain high standards, it can also encourage other members of staff to put more effort in too.

Implement a culture of teamwork – Working as a team will improve overall efficiency and provide customers with a better experience.

Establish objectives – Give members of staff some goals to work towards and provide rewards when they are met.

Carry out performance reviews – Identify strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement to enhance customer service.

If your customer service staff receive adequate and appropriate training, the whole business is bound to benefit. However, some methods and approaches don’t always have the desired affect.

But by adopting new tactics, introducing regular training exercises and implementing a few tried and tested techniques, then your training should deliver favourable results.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Published: 13 Apr, 2015