As a former front line customer service employee, I understand the feeling deep down inside that you may have when you’re not fully prepared to properly service your customers. Training must be a top priority to insure customer satisfaction and employee confidence. I have witnessed employee training that seemed geared toward getting employees in front of (or on the phone with) the customer as quickly as possible. While this method has an apparent positive effect by providing immediate attention to the customer or meeting the abandoned call or calls in que KPI, these are what I call “false positive” metric results. If the employee in front of or on the phone with the customer does not have the proper product/service knowledge and customer service skills training, there is a three-fold effect: 1. The employee’s confidence level decreases, with possibly an increase in their frustration level. 2. The customer is not provided a quality customer service experience as a result of the employee not receiving a comprehensive training experience. 3. The employee’s actions may negatively impact the organization via not having a “wholistic” understanding of who’s/what’s affected internally by their actions. While metrics may indicate that all is well, trouble may be brewing both internally and externally.
To insure that your customer service personnel receive a comprehensive training experience that will allow them to provide a quality customer service experience while at the same time positively impacting the organization, here are a few suggestions:
1. Provide extensive product/service training. Allow the employee the opportunity to utilize the product/service in order to gain the customer’s perspective.
2. Make sure the employee gets extensive training on whatever systems are utilized for servicing the customer. Create typical scenarios that the employee will face daily to insure enough time is spent on realistic training vs theory based training.
3. If the employee’s required inputs are used by someone else within the organization, make sure the employee knows what their “finished product” (the result of their inputs) looks like and what it should contain to meet the requirements of the next person in the process.
4. Incorporate cross-functional visits into the training program. Allow the employee to spend time with those persons impacted by the employee’s daily duties and with those whose daily duties impact the employee. This promotes a “wholistic” perspective throughout the organization. Where the visits are not physically possible, utilize technology to create a virtual visit.
5. Prepare the training attendees for the “people portion” of customer service by providing customer service skills training. This will assist in insuring that all service/product specific interactions are handled in a professional and customer friendly manner.
6. Survey training attendees about 30 days after their completion of the training program. Get their opinion of how effective the training proved to be after they’ve been in the “real world” of servicing customers. Their answers will assist in the constant evolution of the training program in its goal to provide a comprehensive training experience.
Remember, a well-rounded training program is critical to the provision of a great customer experience. It also assists in building employee confidence. These two combined are key ingredients in the quest for both loyal customers and confident, productive employees.