This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Ian Landsman writes about the importance of training and preparing customer service representatives to interact with customers. I agree that every employee should go through customer service training, and it should be ongoing. – Shep Hyken
Most of us go through training when we start a new job, learning the systems, tools and processes we need to accomplish our day-to-day responsibilities.
While customer service skills come to some naturally, there is still a tremendous amount to be learned before successfully working with any business’ customers. In-depth training will help new and longtime customer service employees be equipped to provide support in various scenarios, while continuously reminding your employees how your company expects customers to be treated.
According to Peppers and Rogers Group, 65% of companies provide effective tools and training to gain trust with their customers. On the other hand, other research has also shown that 42% of service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to disconnected systems, archaic user interfaces, and multiple applications.
So, how do you ensure that your company is one that properly trains and prepares its service representatives to interact with customers?
Pay Attention When Hiring
Your customer service representatives are the ones most frequently interacting with the people that sustain your company’s livelihood. These are critical hires.
Beyond just the typical resume and cover letter, there are key characteristics hiring managers should lookout for when interviewing customer service representatives, including:
It may happen that a great candidate doesn’t fit all of these ideal personality traits. Customer service training can teach employees how to take on these qualities by incorporating group activities like:
- Role-playing to put yourself in the perspective of someone else
- Brainstorming better ways to say “no” to a customer complaint
- Learning deep-breathing or stress-relief techniques
Employees who have these skills when hired or quickly gain them will provide better customer support as they start to engage customers on a more frequent basis. However, the learning doesn’t stop there.
Provide An Understanding of the Company & Product
When a customer calls a service representative, they expect them to be an expert in the company’s product. Therefore, employees need to be given in-depth insight on each product or service.
- The designer should explain the small details that led to the final product, driving both usability and aesthetic.
- A developer and/or product manager should provide a demo of any service.
- Customer service employees should have hands-on time with the product or service, going through the purchase process and using the product or service themselves.
- All employees should be familiar with the brand personas that make up the various segments of the customer base, and their various interests and needs leading to purchase and continued use.
- They should also be familiar with brand messaging, speaking as a united voice on behalf of the brand.
And of course, at all times, all customer-facing employees should be familiar with current protocols for handling common questions or recurring issues.
Incorporate Shadowing & Real-World Experience
Whenever you’re working with people, nothing goes as planned. That’s why customer service representatives need to have a good understanding of the real-world scenarios they’re going to face. As part of their training, employees should be assigned to watch the work of an experienced representative. This will give them a chance to see how the processes discussed are applied in reality.
Allow them to see how common questions are answered, solutions to client frustrations are provided, and other customer inquiries are handled. Then role-play to practice what has been taught.
Initial training for customer service reps is necessary, but it’s also vital to continue educating staff as policies, services, and your customers themselves change
Monthly or quarterly meetings for the customer service team may be beneficial to share situations in which they felt under or over-prepared, success stories of an unhappy customer now a loyal patron, or suggestions on improving the customer experience at other touch points.
This ongoing conversation can keep quality customer service top-of-mind and ever improving.
Ian Landsman is the founder of Helpdesk by Helpspot, help desk software for customer service professionals. He writes a regular blog about the fundamentals of excellent customer service, titled The Delightenment Blog. Follow Ian via Twitter and LinkedIn.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: New And Intriguing Lessons Learned At Pegaworld 2016