Regardless of the business you are in, customer service is crucial for success. Without your customer base, you would not be able to grow and thrive, so ensuring they are satisfied should always be a priority.
While it helps to hire individuals with years of customer service experience, you cannot expect all of your employees to know what to do in any given situation. That’s where customer service training comes in. Keep reading to learn about the finer points of customer service training and how it can boost your bottom line.
What is Customer Service Training?
The term “customer service training” covers a relatively broad umbrella of tactics and strategies that are focused on the goal of customer retention. It is far easier and more cost-effective to reach previous customers than it is to find new ones. So, if you can retain as many clients as possible, you can achieve financial success much faster.
This kind of training can be broken down by results and position. For example, someone working a cash register will interact with customers differently than someone in the support department. Because of these differences, it is crucial to understand the intricacies that can come from customer service training. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Not only do workers interact differently with customers, but approaches and techniques can vary significantly between individuals.
Why is Customer Service Training Important?
At its core, the value of customer service training is customer retention. However, here is a breakdown of all of the other valuable components that can come from a successful training regimen.
Empower Your Employees
All too often, workers can feel underappreciated or undervalued within an organization. When employees feel this way, turnover becomes much more prevalent. With the right customer service training, you can empower your workers to do more for clients, making them feel more vital to the operation. If a representative had to talk with a supervisor or get approval for every interaction, it lessens the impact of those relationships and makes the employee seem less valuable.
On the flip side, empowering workers can streamline these interactions to make it better for the customer. Clients can feel like their issues get resolved quickly and efficiently. They feel like they are being heard, and they are far more likely to return for future purchases because they feel appreciated.
Build Brand Reputation
When creating a new business, branding is crucial. While individual relationships between employees and customers are valuable, the brand is what most people connect to. So, if the brand is well valued, the business itself is held in higher regard.
Alternatively, if your company’s brand reputation is soured, it can take much longer to rebuild trust and faith in it. Customer service training ensures consistency and value in every interaction, which creates a more viable reputation. Customers see value in the company, regardless of who they talk to, which can be a powerful motivator to come back again and again.
Create a Solid Foundation for Growth
The other side of brand awareness and loyalty is that your top customers will become ambassadors for your business. By focusing on improving the customer experience, you can build a stronger foundation to move forward into new markets. Current clients will spread the positive vibes, and that energy can propel your brand to new heights of success.
Overall, customer service training is a valuable investment. The more time, energy, and resources you devote to it, the greater your ROI.
Types of Customer Service Training
It is easy to understand the value of customer service training, but it can be much more challenging to implement specific tactics. Here are a few of the most common types of training methods that companies use.
New Recruit Training
First impressions count for both your employees and your customers. Training your employees the right way from the beginning makes it easier to instill good habits and ensure that they follow any guidelines. All too often, if you start with improper training, it can be virtually impossible to fix it later on.
There are a few core elements of new hire training, including:
- Building Teamwork – No one representative can handle everything on his or her own. Instead, everyone has to work as a team. During the new hire process, it is crucial to introduce members to each other so that they know who to approach in specific situations.
- Establishing Expectations – Clarity is always beneficial, particularly when onboarding a new customer service rep. During this training, employees must be given clear expectations, both for daily and quarterly operations. Ambiguity can lead to a disconnect between training and execution.
- Tool Training – There are potentially many different programs that a worker must use when interacting with customers. Whether it’s a phone script, an app or CRM software, new hires must be able to use them effectively.
- Product Demonstration – If a representative does not understand the product or service you offer, he or she cannot provide the best customer experience. Now is the time to illustrate the value of your products and how they solve problems for clients. The more your reps understand these elements, the easier they can assist when necessary.
Quarterly and Yearly Customer Service Training
Unfortunately, many companies falsely believe that training only happens once. As long as employees are trained the right way, they will never need retraining, right? Wrong.
The fact is that quarterly or yearly check-ins can work wonders for the team and individual representatives. These check-ins should focus on these two elements:
- Skills Assessment – As a rule, skills will get refined and developed based on how they are used. Even though the training may be identical for each person, everyone may be doing something different. Assessments not only ensure that the right techniques are being followed, but they can illustrate an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Team Building – Relationships require maintenance and upkeep. These check-ins are a perfect way to ensure that the customer service team works as a cohesive unit.
Another primary benefit of quarterly or yearly customer service training is that you can make sure that everyone’s goals are in-line with the company at large. Short and long-term goals can shift over time, so these check-ins allow management to make sure that everyone is on the same page moving forward.
Emergency Customer Service Training
As 2020 has illustrated, a lot can change in a short period. Emergency training is designed to make the company more agile and adaptable to both internal and external changes. Here is a brief overview of how training can enable your business to keep moving forward:
- External Changes (Market Trends, Crises, Supply Chain Issues) – In many cases, these disruptions will be beyond your control. For example, if one of your suppliers goes out of business, you may have to scramble to find a new one. During these moments, it is crucial to make sure that the customer service team knows what’s happening and how it will impact their relationships with clients.
- Internal Changes (Product Updates, New Markets) – Whether you have added new products, improved existing ones, or made other internal changes, your reps need to know details to assist clients better.
Although everyone has some experience talking on the phone, it can be wildly different for individual customer service reps. Phone training can ensure more consistency on each call so that clients know what to expect when contacting the business. Some core elements of phone training can include:
- Maintaining Positive Energy – Even if a customer is upset, it is vital to reframe the conversation as solving a problem, not focusing on the negatives.
- Staying Calm – Tempers can flair quickly on a phone call, particularly when a customer has been on hold. Reps need to know how to remain calm and collected and not engage.
- Clarity – Being clear means that callers should understand what is happening. This clarity can come from following a script and training reps to speak slowly and articulately.
- Empathy – Although you cannot see a person’s face over the phone, many emotions can be conveyed via one’s voice. It is crucial to train employees to show compassion on every call.
- Staying Focused – It is easy for the call to get sidetracked. Scripts and protocols can ensure that customers are helped quickly and efficiently. This strategy not only helps individual clients feel valued, but it can cut down on the response time needed for each call.
Considering that almost half of customers prefer to talk to a representative over the phone, this kind of training is highly valuable.
Customer Service Training Basics and Skills Required
Because there are so many types of interactions required within the customer service umbrella, each representative needs some mastery of a wide array of skills. Here are some of the most valuable ones to incorporate into your training program:
Customer service employees need to know how to talk to other people, including both customers and co-workers. Knowing what to say and how to say it can make a significant difference in all of these interactions. Without these skills, it can be virtually impossible to make any meaningful impact when building relationships.
Clarity is always vital. If someone is unclear about their intentions or expectations, that can leave room for interpretation. Since everyone experiences situations differently and brings a unique context, you cannot assume that everyone will be on the same page at all times.
Customer service reps have to be clear when communicating. Not only can this skill reduce confusion and backtracking, but it can increase efficiency. For example, rather than sending five different emails, a clear communicator can get all of the details across in one.
In many cases, customers will have questions about the product or service you’re offering. The more knowledgeable your employees are, the easier that they can provide insight for your clientele. Not only should reps have an intimate understanding of what you are selling, but they should know how it can help customers achieve specific goals or solve problems.
No matter how well you plan, there will always be some form of crisis that pops up. As we discussed earlier, these changes can be external or internal. Regardless of their origin, customer service reps need to remain calm and collected during tense situations.
Typically, the best skill to master is the ability to step back and look at a problem objectively. In many cases, individuals can get caught up in a situation’s emotionality, which can lead to rushed results. By avoiding panic, workers can often figure out a much better solution.
Other skills that your reps should master include:
- Conflict Resolution.
- Team Building.
- Customer Advocacy.
Types of Programs for Customer Service Training
Fortunately, thanks to technology, there are many different ways to train your employees to be better at customer service. Here are three primary methodologies that you can use. Feel free to mix and match as you see fit.
There are many companies out there that can come in and train your employees for you. The best options will develop a customized solution based on your needs. For example, if most of your customer interactions happen over chat, you might not need to focus on phone training.
One of the best ways to ensure retention of training techniques is to gamify the lesson plan. Games can also make reps far more interested in participating and excelling in the various methodologies. There are tons of customer service training games available online, so you can implement them yourself or incorporate them into a more structured lesson plan.
While training videos are not ideal for reviews and check-ins, they can save time and resources when onboarding new hires. These videos can also be helpful when rolling out new product updates and changes, as workers can learn about the adjustments at their leisure. While you can find generic training videos online, it’s often better to create your own. This way, they will be unique to your organization and needs.
Critical Takeaways From Customer Service Training
Here are the primary elements from this article to retain for your business:
- Training is an Ongoing Operation – No matter how long your reps have been at the company, they can always learn new skills.
- Build a Strong Foundation – Rather than trying to patch different problems, it is better to focus on creating an excellent training program from the ground up.
- Focus on the Right Skills – Some training options may be more beneficial than others. Do not take a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
If you need assistance with customer service training, give us a call. We can help you build a curriculum that works. See how today.