‘Customer service training’ is one of the most common searches by training managers and business owners looking to fix a lacklustre customer service department or wanting to take their team to the next level of service engagement. You should know – that’s probably why you’re here, reading this article.
Customer Service Training
We’d like to offer you one piece of advice from the get-go: don’t send your staff on a customer service course. Rather, invest in your company and in team’s growth, through a customer service learning experience, one that mindfully blends in empathy and customer experience awareness and personal growth.
To illuminate our case and to show you the way to designing or commissioning customer service training that works for both your business and your team, the Consumer Psychology Lab delve into six of the most compelling online questions asked about this highly in-demand skills training.
Why should customer service training be a staple in your L&D calendar for everyone in your business?
On the one hand, we could list the typical, and arguably convincing advantages for employees (career upskilling, personal growth) and, on the other hand, the advantages for your company (improved workforce efficiency and profitability). But that creates an underwhelming picture of the potential of expertly executed customer experience training.
One of the most profound mindshifts for leadership to make, is to move away from the notion that customer service training should only be offered to frontline staff. Although they are the pulse of your company’s contact with customers, they are mere players in the greater performance of your business. They are interdependent on other departments to support the service delivery to customers. And that is where the shift needs to happen – everyone should understand what it is your business wants customers to feel like when they do business with you. We refer to this as the experience essence. It’s more than your values – it’s a clear understanding of how the service should be delivered. The brand’s experience essence has to live in the minds, hearts and actions of the entire workforce. Everyone impacts on the ultimate experience of customers by supporting each other.
The true magic lies in the change of focus and empowering everyone in your company with a clear “true north” and framework of the experience to deliver. Once everyone is familiar with this framework, it automatically leads to improved internal processes and relationships.
Although companies set out with the precise goal of creating better customer interactions, one can almost imagine the employees’ enhanced brand experience knowledge and affinity, as a oceanic wave – sparked from deep within and then effortlessly rolling out onto the sand, affecting customers as an inevitable result. This is how the power of employee brand engagement should actually be measured.
And speaking of benefactors, do not forget about the very important third benefactor: the person on the other end of the desk, phone line or computer screen – your customer. When you aim to enhance their life through a carefully designed customer journey, and place this as a higher priority than even your bottom line, you are set to hit the mark for both these goals.
Why is it crucial to customize staff customer service training to your brand?
Off-the-shelf customer service training rarely leads to the profound, lasting changes that would take your business to a truly competitive level. Customers are becoming more and more discerning about the unique experiences they have with brands, and this is even more relevant for high end products and services. While you might marginally lift your overall service levels through running your staff through a generic customer service training course, a smile and a more professional appearance will simply not cut it in the fast-changing consumer landscape anymore. Rather, gifting your customers with meaningful memories that are uniquely brand-on, will carve out your path to the top of your market space. Customer experience is a dynamic process and requires whole-heartedness, empathy and generosity – not items offered by your run of the mill customer training programmes.
How do we design customer service training to affect meaningful change?
Authentic, transformative service staff training will fuse three branches of expression: head, heart and hand (mirroring the work of the trailblazing educator David Orr).
Head: Guided to a deeper reflection of their own role, the value to their workplace and the nature of the people they engage with, they will be empowered with the foundational knowledge of the service delivery and brand advocacy eco-system.
Heart: Here they are activated to your brand on a more emotional level, stirring them to find creative solutions in even the trickiest situations – we refer to this as real-time design. They now align with others on an empathic plain and can view and feel the customers’ side of things. Staff that sincerely connect with the company’s experience essence, discover an unending willingness to affect greater value for your customers.
Hands: Identify the crucial skills that will empower and mobilize your team to apply their newly acquired knowledge and motivation. A well-rounded customer service staff member should have highly developed listening prowess to kickstart clear communication, enabling her to solve problems with an innovative streak.
How can the programme designer infuse customer service training with fun, engaging and creative elements?
It’s important to remember that ‘fun, engaging and creative’ should not be nice-to-haves in your customer service training design blue-prints. Although they are almost overused buzz words in the L&D arena, there is good reason for it – it is how humans learn. Over the last few decades business models have rapidly been switching gears to a more customer-centric focus, and the learning industry is no different. In fact, it seems ironic that in this field, with the sole purpose to enhance people’s knowledge and skills, a relative lag in converting ‘training’ into human-centric learning experiences is evident.
Looking at customer service training, this philosophy compels the programme designer to
- take a fresh approach to how knowledge-based content is presented to the learner, ensuring that there is a high level of information uptake rather than simply passive listening
- create content and activities that moves the participants on an emotional level, which is fundamental to the learning experience, and
- assign a generous portion of the learning time to role-playing scenarios that will evoke meaningful, committed engagement from the participants.
How often should customer experience training take place?
As all serious customer-centric businesses know, customer service upskilling is not a quick-fix but rather an ongoing journey of identifying weak points and striving for an even more inventive way of empowering people to deliver on their brand promise. This requires d dedication, the right industry expertise and a creative, flexible approach. Your team will continually grow and strengthen, to eventually ‘win the race’ and effortlessly lead the market.
The Consumer Psychology Lab has rooted our brand promise in every customer service employee’s ability to pursue a purposeful, enriching career though empathy, brand knowledge and an empowering skill set. And for companies, this is the dream they chase when turning to customer service training solutions: an authentically motivated, switched-on and capable workforce.