Are you planning on helping your team up their customer service game? Here are nine customer service training ideas you can use to help your team excel. Creating a culture of customer service is not limited to training sessions. You must also demonstrate, by your behavior choices, how you want your team to act with customers and each other. You must also constantly review and reinforce your expectations of your team. This post includes tools that we use in our Compassionate Geek training programs and I’m happy to share them with you.
1. Commit from the beginning.
Make customer service an emphasis from the very beginning of an employee’s journey. Teach and model the five principles of IT customer service success as part of new employee onboarding. Ensure that the entire process of bringing in new team members demonstrates the principles of competence, compassion, empathy, good listening, and respectful behavior in the words and actions of all team members from the recruiting process through hiring, onboarding, and ongoing company culture.
2. Be a role model
People don’t do what you say, they do what you do. If you want your team to focus on treating customers well, start by treating your team well. If you want them to maintain and build their competence, ensure you do that as well. You, as a leader, must model the behavior you want from your team. Even if you’re not in a leadership position, you can still model behavior for others by your own behavior choices. It’s cliche and true that actions speak louder than words.
3. What’s the benefit?
Ask your team to discuss the personal benefits of improved customer service. Some of them will probably talk about the benefits to the organization such as customer retention or fewer complaints. This, however, is about the personal benefits to the individual. You should hear responses such as job satisfaction, less stress, and better relationships. Use a smartboard, a flip chart, or a similar tool to make a list of their responses. One of the benefits of using an old-school flip chart is to post the list in a visible location and refer back to it later in the training. This is an important tool because it starts to answer the questions, “Why should I care about customer service?” and “Why should I take this training seriously?”
This customer service training idea is designed to help your team see the difference between good and bad customer service. Ask them to recall a time when they were receiving good customer service and write down a brief description of what happened. Then, ask them to recall a time when they received poor customer service and write down a description of that. Have a group discussion about the differences between the good and bad customer service experiences.
Thinking about the good and bad customer service experiences, have your team describe the characteristics of each of the experiences. On a smartboard, flip chart, or something similar, make a list of the characteristics of the good providers and make a list of the characteristics of the bad providers. Ask your team to look over both lists and think about the times when they acted well with customers and the times when they acted poorly with customers. Then, ask them to think about the triggers that influenced their behaviors. Explain that they must be aware of the times they acted poorly and what might have influenced that behavior. They might mention things like being hungry, tired, having gotten in an argument, or having just dealt with a difficult customer. They must then work to be intentional about making different behavior choices in the future.
6. Role Play
In a team meeting, have the participants pair off. One person in each pair acts as a support provider and the other acts as a customer. Encourage them to act like different types of customers including overly talkative, nervous, angry, frustrated, overbearing, and any other type of customer they can imagine. Do the role play for three minutes, then have the customer give feedback to the provider. Then have them switch roles and repeat the process. After the role play, ask the participants to share what they learned from the experience.
7. Practice Questioning
This is also a role play type of exercise. Find several simple line drawings. As above, have the participants pair off. Give the drawing to one person in each pair. Don’t allow the other person to see it. The person without the drawing uses a pen or pencil and a blank sheet of paper to recreate the other person’s line drawing by asking questions about it. The person holding the drawing is not allowed to offer any information beyond answering their partner’s questions. After five minutes, have the questioners hold their drawings up for everyone to see. Explain the importance of asking the right questions, using open-ended questions that can’t be answered with one word, and phrasing questions in a way that helps the customer provide more detailed and useful troubleshooting information.
8. Emotional Intelligence
A simple and highly effective emotional intelligence exercise is to ask team members to make a list of two or three times in the past when they encountered emotions in another person and their response was ineffective. Maybe the other person was sad, angry, nervous, frustrated, or even hostile. Ask them to think about what the other person was saying and doing. Ask them to think about what they were saying and doing. Ask them to think about what happened that created an undesirable outcome. Then, ask them to write down what they will do differently in the future to create a more desirable outcome the next time they encounter someone showing those same emotions.
9. Reinforce and Review
One of the most important customer service training ideas to is to reinforce and review the lessons in the training. You do that by discussing customer service concepts in team meetings and one-on-ones. Share stories about successes, including specifics of what made the experience a success and ways to replicate it in other customer interactions. Consider downloading Compassionate Geek posters to display in common work areas and using infographics to remind team members of customer service best practices.
Where can you find more customer service training ideas?
Customer service training ideas come in many different forms. Try asking your team members to take turns leading a “customer service excellence” section in regular team meetings. People support that which they help create. Remember Paul Senness’ idea of participatory management in which team members contribute to management decisions. Establishing and promoting customer service best practices are great areas in which to involve your team.
Use the Compassionate Geek online learning leader guide to help you work with your team.
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