Technology has changed how people shop and what they expect from customer service representatives. Unfortunately, most customer service training hasn’t kept pace with the rate of technology and customer expectations. If you want to deliver the best customer service training, you must modernize it to meet the needs of the modern customer.
Who Is the Modern Customer?
According to Salesforce, “Shoppers are doing their homework ahead of time (and across multiple emerging channels), making them more knowledgeable and empowered than ever before.”
Modern customers also prefer to troubleshoot on their own using FAQs pages and knowledge bases if they run into any problems. The Center for Generational Kinetics found that “Over 65% of all Americans say that they feel good about themselves and the company when they can solve a problem without talking to customer service.”
This means if a customer does contact customer service through the many channels available to them – live chat, social media, email, phone, etc. – they probably have a complex issue and have already searched your site for an answer.
“. . .The kinds of calls that go to a live agent are reserved for those complicated or urgent issues that are not handled by self-service.” -Shai Berger, CEO of Fonolo
What does this mean for your training?
To have the best customer service training, you have to equip your reps to meet the needs of today’s customers. Customer service teams need to be able to rapidly address issues that are more complex for customers who are more knowledgeable.
So, where do you start? Consider these four best practices when modernizing your customer service training.
1. Train on addressing complex issues quickly
Chances are, if the customer has already tried to solve their problem themselves, they’re ready for the solution—fast.Think about some of the complex issues your company is receiving from customers, and work with customer service representatives to turn long, detailed responses into short, solution-centered ones.
2. Train for personalization
Customers communicate across multiple channels and expect CSRs to know who they are regardless of the channel they’re using.Train representatives to review the customer’s communication history before responding to an issue. If the customer has already reached out about the same issue, review when the customer last contacted your company and through what channel. Work with representatives to personalize their service with this in mind.
3. Train on your company’s knowledge base
Train representatives to not only be knowledgeable about your products and services, but your company’s knowledge base as well.Customer service representatives should be able to speak to the product, but also guide customers toward the most helpful self-service site or knowledge base, if that is the customer’s preference.
4. Train for active listening
If a customer has attempted to solve an issue on their own, they will likely reference actions they’ve taken to solve their problem.Customer service representatives need to be able to hear everything the first time to create a quick, effective solution for the customer. Practice active listening with representatives to ensure they hear everything the first time, so they can quickly lead customers to the perfect solution.
The Best Customer Service Training Increases Revenue
To deliver the best customer service training, you have to equip your CSRs to handle the expectations of today’s consumer. This change in your training can result in a better customer experience which can lead to a greater return on investment and increased customer retention.
According to the Temkin Group, “A moderate increase in customer experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.”
At Unboxed Training and Technology, we provide modern training solutions that get results. We would love to partner with you to create an engaging and personalized customer service training program! Contact us to learn more.
Your customer service team is the face of your company. Every day, every single agent impacts how your customers perceive your brand. One unpleasant interaction – or one issue that doesn’t get resolved – and the bottom can start to fall out of your bottom line. But you can prevent that from happening with a strong customer service skills training program.
Numbers Never Lie
Studies show that consumers who have a bad service experience are more likely to post, Tweet, text, and tell their friends about it than those who have a positive experience.
A look at the numbers might keep you up at night:
Great customer service means more than a pleasant greeting when your reps begin a call or spot a customer (although that’s certainly part of it). It focuses on carefully listening to your customers’ wants and needs, then attending to them as if they were you own.
The good news is that, once you know where to start, investing in even a basic customer service skills training program pays off by building a fiercely loyal customer base.
So, what customer service skills should employees be trained in?
OK – You know you need a customer service skills training program, but where do you start? In order to build a complete program, make sure to focus on both “soft” and “hard” skills. Let’s start with the soft skills.
This is the guiding principle for everything that follows. That’s why we’re putting it first.
As an experienced Learning and Development leader, you know your company’s vision and values backwards and forwards. But do your customer service reps?
Every good customer service skills training program begins with a thorough look at the company’s mission. Make sure your agents can recite your organization’s guiding principles in their sleep and that they use them as a compass for all of their interactions with customers. CSRs need to live these values so that they can apply them to every conversation with every customer.
Remember, this goes beyond business and compliance policies. Train reps on your company’s culture and how your firm wants to present itself to the public so that the messaging matches your brand’s image.
Making sure that every customer service agent knows your company’s vision and values will give you a consistent voice in dealing with customers and their service issues. Find the right balance of professionalism and personality, but know your audience. If your company is young and playful, feel free to use a bit of humor (when appropriate) with customers. On the other hand, if your company is more traditional, keep it formal.
In addition to teaching customer service representatives your voice, make sure to train them on the basics of communication and effective conflict resolution. Things are going to get stressful at times, so make sure they know how to handle it by incorporating these types of scenarios into your training programs.
Don’t forget – communication isn’t just speaking. It’s also practicing active listening both in-person and over the phone. Make sure you train your CSRs on that too.
Problem Solving and Adaptability
Solutions to customer service issues are rarely straightforward and seldom the same in every case. Make sure you train your employees on the intent of your policies and not just the wording of them. That way, they can come up with creative solutions to customer service issues on the fly. Then, reps can adapt and apply those principles as they deal with the different sorts of problems that arise.
Your customer service reps need to be able to put themselves into the customer’s shoes. This might seem like the simplest idea of all (after all, who among us has never been a dissatisfied customer?) but it’s also one of the most crucial.
It can be difficult to deal with an upset customer or fulfill a seemingly ridiculous request. But as long as your agents are trained to show that they understand the customers’ situations and are ready to help, they can often find solutions that benefit both the customer and your company.
Part of this is having a thick skin. Make sure your reps know to shake it off and not take it personally when they’re on the receiving end of a customer’s rant.
The Hard Skills
“Hard skills” don’t just mean training for IT and tech support roles. Every customer service job needs some sort of technical skills training.
We’re talking about things like record keeping and other “nuts and bolts” types of skills. Having good practices in these areas help your company build data and information that allows you to create the best experience possible for your customers, custom tailored to their needs. These customer service skills are just as important as having cheerful reps.
Having and properly using a CRM is critical to building and maintaining a customer base. Every customer’s history (and potential future) is in there, giving your reps powerful information that can make or break your profit margins. If you’re not using the software (or using it to its full potential), you’re missing out.
Most companies offer training on their software. Take advantage of this and also consider designating at least one “super user” to train new hires. You can also explore custom-built systems training solutions from training companies like Unboxed.
Big data isn’t coming, it’s here and it’s only getting bigger. Train reps so they can understand the information contained in your CRM and apply it to customer interactions. That way, they can make informed decisions that help both the customer and your bottom line.
There are software programs that help create visualizations and flowcharts using that data. Make sure there’s training on them, if it’s appropriate to your firm.
Not just for Millennials and Generation Y, customers of all ages use social media to connect with businesses. Interacting with those consumers presents its own challenges because it takes all the soft skills above and puts them into a virtual environment.
Train CSRs who use social media on best practices, so they don’t end up looking like n00bs. If you choose to use a social media marketing and management tool, make sure reps know how that works as well.
Keep in mind that the tone of an online conversation can be tough to detect. So, while your interactions with customers can be less formal, you want to make sure reps aren’t misunderstood when they are having a virtual conversation instead of a face-to-face one.
How do I create a basic customer service skills training program?
First of all, consider training every single employee in customer service skills, not just those who directly deal with customers. No matter their role, every member of your team needs to understand your company’s values and vision and how their job eventually impacts the customer. And, of course, everyone benefits from improving their communication, problem-solving, and empathy skills. Start this training on day one.
When you do focus on training your customer service representatives, remember that the best ones aren’t born. They’re made. Building a customer service skills training program begins with hiring. Bring people into your organization based on their attitude as much as their aptitude and make it clear what the expectations are.
From there, here is a quick overview of the steps to take:
- Structure your training: timeframe, format, who to train, etc.
- Share your company vision
- Deliver skills training
- Provide reps a safe place to practice and apply their new skills
- Measure the outcomes and reward outstanding performance
- Set up a timetable for refresher training to keep their skills sharp
No matter how you structure your training, make it as engaging as possible. Use a mix of online and instructor-led sessions to keep the learner’s attention. Incorporate games, role-playing and simulated scenarios into your training. Those are the types of things that people tend to remember.
Here are a few customer service training ideas to get you started.
Bringing it all together
Building an effective customer service skills training program isn’t as simple as it may seem. Every company, culture, and person is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But making a serious investment into your customer service training program will pay off for you in the long run. Not only will you gain and retain business, you will save money by having fully-trained employees. Remember: trained employees are happy employees. And happy employees tend to stick around.
At Unboxed Training and Technology, we deliver custom solutions to your training problems. Our customer service training programs make training easier, faster, and more engaging than ever so your reps can tackle any issue that arises. Give us a shout to find out how we can help.
According to HubSpot, growing companies are nearly twice as likely as stagnating companies to prioritize customer service training as “very important.” To retain your customers and keep them happy so you can grow, you need to prioritize your employees by implementing effective customer service training ideas so they’re equipped to be as helpful as possible.
But how can you do this in a way that is both engaging and enjoyable for your reps?
Fun and games, of course!
“Games? But my reps should be working –“
We get it: On the surface, customer service training games and activities may seem frivolous. However, they can teach service concepts in a way that actually keeps reps engaged and interested in their training. Additionally, getting your reps to learn through experience can help improve crucial customer service soft skills like teamwork, empathy, patience, and communication.
Let’s take a look at a few customer service training ideas you can use to build a strong foundation of knowledge and sense of collaboration among your reps!
Customer Service Training Games and Activities
Customer Role Play
This is an improvisational activity in which your team is divided between groups A and B, then paired off. Group A plays upset customers and Group B plays the service representatives. Group A is handed a certain complaint, or can think of one themselves (it just has to be fun and ridiculous!). They are also provided a central goal – for example, get a free month of service, a full refund, etc. The players in Group B must resolve the situation with minimal damage.
The pairs will perform their role play for the rest of the team. Encourage them to be creative and to have fun, but remind them that all good improvisation is about building on what your partner says – not trying to “out funny” them. After the role play is over, allow the broader team to give the players feedback – what could they have done differently? What did they do well? What stood out about the performance?
At the end of this game, each player will get important takeaways: Group A will have practiced empathy and communication by putting themselves in their customer’s shoes, and Group B applied patience to achieve a resolution. (Read on in Forbes to discover why Improv is great business training!)
Customer Service Jeopardy
Here at Unboxed, to train our new employees on our security best practices, we developed a Jeopardy-style game that provides fun, focused, and continuous engagement with the subject-matter.
A game like Jeopardy can be modified to fit any subject matter – including customer service! Consider creating questions about your best practices, mission statement, difficult customer situations, or the most useful skills of a service representative.
In gamifying the training, employees can better retain the information you want to teach them and bypass any potential boredom that sometimes accompanies standard training programs. Jeopardy games can be easily created within Microsoft PowerPoint or through an online service like Jeopardy Labs.
Say ‘No’ to No
There’s only one rule to this game: You can’t say ‘no.’ (This includes all ‘no’-oriented words and phrases like “I don’t know.”) According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator – that’s why it’s vital to practice ways to improve the experience for your customers. That includes finding ways to say no… without actually saying no.
There are times in which ‘no’ is the correct answer, but your reps should be encouraged to reframe the conversation and give it a positive spin. Saying ‘no’ will stop the conversation and potentially upset the customer even more than they already are (and if there’s anything we learned from our improv game, we should find ways to constructively build on what others say – not deny their request).
The goal of this customer service training activity is to help your reps come up with different ways to say “no”. Here’s how to play:
- Start by pairing off team members and have them take turns playing the customer and the service reps. Customers will make requests that reps can’t say ‘no’ to — but instead, have to figure out a response that steers the conversation toward a solution.
- Allow team members to converse for up to five minutes, then have them switch roles.
- Once the timer is up, bring the team back together and discuss their answers. After everyone has shared, eliminate those answers that, even without directly saying ‘no’, may still have a negative impact on the customer. Those with the most effective answers win!
(This game has been adapted from Hubspot.)
Start Implementing Fun, Engaging Customer Service Training Ideas
Gamified, engaging training has become vital to the modern workplace. Use these customer service training ideas in your own programs, or explore our custom-built customer service training programs. We use short bursts of on-demand content, like game-based reinforcement, so your reps spend less time training and more time helping customers.