When Employee Training comes to mind, more often than not, it is Product Training, Sales Training, and Technical Training that become the cynosure of the Management’s eyes and percolate to the Learning and Development division.
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The Importance of Customer Service Training
The icing on top of the cake, however, which will actually break the ice with the potential customer is effective Customer Service trai. Studies have revealed some eye-opening facts that must make all of us pause and assess the huge impact of Customer Service on our clients, and consequently, the business.
Customers are your brand, product, and service advocates. Delighted clients will spontaneously, happily promote your product because they feel so good about the entire experience around it. Not only will you gain the customer for life, you will attract your customer’s network courtesy his spreading the good word.
According to one Gartner survey, 89% of businesses plan their strategy around the delivery of their customer experience. That is the level of competitive advantage smart customer service enjoys.
Smart Customer Service encompasses a gamut of behavior attributes like Mindfulness, Empathy, Assertiveness, and more. Read here for a ready reckoner. These traits are genetically inherent in some of us, and absent in the rest. But all of us can be trained and learn the best attributes and skills to serve up a pleasant, and enduring customer engagement experience.
Frequency and Timing of Customer Service Training
Customer Service Training must be a part of a new employee’s orientation training program. As you induct the employee into your culture, ethos, mission and vision, processes, industry, product, client portfolio, you also induct him into the way he engages with the customer for a positive client experience, how the company expects him to serve clients. This includes training for those unexpected, crisis-like turns that happens to every company at some point in time.
The training, like all other programs, must be periodically implemented, for robust reinforcement and skill refreshment, and allowing for new infusions, based on new situations/products/policy and process changes and updates.
Types of Customer Service Training
We will now examine the various methods and mediums of an effective, engaging and enduring customer service training.
- Instructor-Led Training (ILT): As the name suggests, this method involves a classroom set-up with a live instructor who uses tools of his choice to train the employees. This set-up allows for high interactivity, knowledge sharing with immediate feedback, actually helping to improve soft skills and communication, and demonstrate desired customer service behaviors and skills. This method of training, however. is expensive, requiring all participants to assemble at the same time, in a particular location, and blocking the time of the trainer/s.
- vILT (Virtual ILT or Webinar): In this method, the trainer/s engages with an audience spread over different locations over the internet. These sessions can be recorded and played back later. Trainees can interact with the trainer and seek clarifications. The internet lag time may be a challenge, vis a vis, the advantage of zero travel. For more on this, visit our vILT page.
- eLearning: More and more, and especially in the emerging New Normal, eLearning is the preferred choice of training. Being online, trainees can access the course at any time and pace themselves within the given time frame. They can be assessed via quizzes, simulations, interactive games, and the trainer/manager can view the results of the course progress and performance. The only challenge, if at all, may stem from the lack of direct engagement with a real trainer.
- Role Play: This is a favorite of all customer service training methods. After the employee has been trained with knowledge and skills, it is time to get to the action, else all that training remains in the realm of abstraction. Getting employees to play the role of the company representative and the client, and reversing the roles, while keenly observing the communication, both verbal and non-verbal, taking notes, debriefing, providing targeted, constructive feedback, replaying the scenario, modeling other real-life scenarios, and repeating these, till the behaviors are imbibed, is a critical component of effective customer service training.
- Simulation: This is an eLearning approach that uses simulated scenarios in a controlled and safe environment to prepare learners for real-life situations. Simulated scenarios can range from a mock conversation between customer and representative or a virtual lab with technology or machinery.
- Mentoring: This involves having the trainee shadow an experienced employee/mentor and observe his behavior with clients – conversing on phone, face-face, communicating via emails. This is an immersive technique that exposes the trainee to an actual day in the life of a customer-facing agent, replete with myriad situations and challenges with various clients. The trainee, should at the end of the day, ask questions and seek clarifications, to enable himself to deliver a great customer experience.
- Peer Learning: As the name suggests, this mode of learning is done through conversations with peers and other associates in the organization, who share their perspectives and tips over informal settings such as lunch, coffee, water breaks.
- Blended Learning: This is the most favored approach to effective training. Blended learning must include a combination of formal learning delivered through the classroom, a webinar, eLearning, experiential learning delivered through the classroom, eLearning, role play, demonstration, buddying, and social learning with peers and mentors.
- Assessment: Once the cycle is satisfactorily completed, test the associate on:
- Company values, vision, mission
- Company’s definition of customer service, skills, and behavior attributes
- Associate performance in simulated scenario
- Live Service: Once the trainer/buddy/mentor is satisfactorily trained and assessed, allow him to interact with a customer, in small, safe, not-critical engagements, while his mentor keeps a close eye on him and provides feedback and assistance.
- Measuring Effectiveness: Measure the effectiveness of the training with Feedback Surveys with the customers the employee has engaged with. This exercise must be an on-going one, ideally after every interaction with the client. Keep it simple with two or three questions so that the customer is motivated to do it – whether on Voice or Online. This is immensely beneficial in holistically assessing the impact of associate-client interaction. At the end of a quarter, send a more detailed feedback survey to the client requesting some time for honest and constructive feedback, which would go a long way in enhancing the levels of customer service. Again, this can be done on Voice or Online. Most clients are happy to comply.
We would like to close with some stunning statistics which vociferously proclaim the overwhelming import of the value of customer service.
Why Should You Keep the Customer Happy?
Positive Customer Service Characteristics
So, train your associates well (with continuous learning) on this skill so that they deliver the most satisfying of experiences for your clients who not only direct their loyalty to you but become your advocates and attract others to you.
This lockdown period – pull out all the customer service training material that you have, assess their efficiency, review upgradation, consider repackaging.
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