11 Rules For An Outstanding Customer Service Training Program
Most people now realize that customer service is more than just 'common sense.' It is a skill, with a lot of moving parts. And, like any skill, it requires continuous training and focus to be at the top of one's game. So, what should a customer service training program include? Here is the only real recipe that works:
1. Clearly defined organizational needs
Why are you thinking of the training? Where are the gaps? What is the outcome you want? Just saying you want to 'take it to the next level' isn't good enough.
2. Clearly defined customer service skills
Based on a solid assessment, what are the specific customer service skills that will fill the gaps in performance? Those are what the training should focus on - nothing else.
3. Training design that is engaging, meaningful and appropriate
Is it designed to appeal to adults, or to school-kids? (Too often, the latter is the case). Are the customer service examples and solutions specific to the workplace, or are they too general to be applied? Is it an interactive format? If it is less than 75% interactive exercises, it will fail. (For more information on how to make training stick, see the white paper here)
4. Training design that creates 'ah-ha!' moments
Traditional training design techniques don't work in customer service training workshops. Because everyone already has preconceived ideas about customer service, you have to build in tricks, traps and surprises to facilitate buy-in to new skills.
5. Organization-wide participation
If the Regional Manager or Vice-President won't participate, you might as well not even bother with customer service training. How can they champion service behaviours that they haven't seen? The single, most common comment in training programs is, "our management needs to go through this."
6. Respect for participant skills and knowledge
A great number of people who train customer service come across as condescending and maybe a little preachy. This is because they neglect to acknowledge and leverage the experience in the room. Yes, you might need to remind people of the importance of smiling, but you don't want to present it in your workshop as though this is news to anyone. This is a critical training skill that a lot of trainers unfortunately don't have.
7. A passionate trainer
A big component of customer service is attitude. If the trainer isn't truly passionate, he/she will never get people to buy into the skills.
8. A subject matter expert
Some in the training & development world believe that a professional trainer should be able to deliver anything. And to some degree, this might be true. But delivering on a topic in which everyone in the audience already considers themselves highly knowledgeable requires a lot of credibility. Customer service trainers need to go beyond the leaders guide and really become immersed in the subject matter.
9. Time to practice
Theory isn't good enough. In order to move from theory to application in the workplace, there needs to be time to practice. Role-playing, skits, demonstrations are critical.
10. Motivational energy
If a customer service training program doesn't have people walking out of the door excited, it's not going to stick.
11. Relentless support
**There is never enough time during a workshop to develop customer service habits** This is just a reality of all training. The real key to stickiness is what happens after the training. You need to make sure that there are processes and people in place to actually measure and support the change.
Don't leave it to chance!
Whatever you do, don't leave a customer service training program to chance. If you're going to commit the valuable time of your team to attend the program, make it count.
Sample Customer Service Training Programs
Below is a link where you can download outlines of Belding Training's Outstanding Customer Service workshops. But remember - classroom training is only part of the journey to creating a world-class customer service culture.
You need to make sure that the trainer is amazing (see numbers 6, 7 & 8), and that there is relentless support for the skills once the training is completed.
Leadership Training That Supports Customer Service
Countless studies demonstrate the payoff of a highly engaged workforce. This dynamic leadership workshop transfers core skills for engaging and motivating employees turning negative situations into positive outcomes.
Creating A Customer-Focused Culture
This high-level workshop introduces the proven principles of creating a culture that creates consistently high customer experiences. The results? Greater customer satisfaction and greater employee retention.