If you want your business to thrive in 2017 and beyond, it’s crucial to make customer service a priority. This is one of the most important ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. Customers are increasingly demanding knowledgeable, considerate, and helpful service at every stage - before buying a product or service, during the sales process and post-sale. Great customer service doesn’t happen automatically. It requires the right mindset and thorough training. You want all customer service reps on board with your company’s policies. Let’s look at the most effective training initiatives for customer service success.
Why is Customer Service Training Important?
Some businesses make the mistake of overlooking customer service training. After all, it requires planning and costs money. It’s tempting to focus on selling their products, assuming that customer service representatives only need minimal training. They believe they only need to provide a few basic guidelines and the rest is self-evident. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are several important reasons why it’s crucial to provide thorough training for customer service reps.
What are the Most Important Areas to Cover in Customer Service Training?
- Inspires a positive attitude. One benefit of a good training program is that it motivates customer service reps to put forth their best effort. It also fosters a team spirit among reps.
- Provides essential skills. Dealing with customers demands solid communication skills. Reps also need specific knowledge about your products and policies in order to provide quality service.
- Ensures consistency. Without training, your customer service lacks consistency and depends on the particular skills and traits of individuals rather than on company-wide policies. You don’t want to rely on a haphazard approach to customer service.
- Increase profits. Quality customer service helps to make sales. You need reps who effectively explain products, answer questions and resolve problems. This means more sales and fewer returns.
- Improve customer loyalty. One of the top reasons to take customer service seriously is to increase customer satisfaction. Getting great service means more repeat business, better reviews for your company, and a more solid reputation.
Once we acknowledge that customer service training is crucial, the next step is to identify what topics to include. The specifics, of course, will vary depending on what type of products or services you sell. However, there are certain areas that are important for all customer service training initiatives.
How to Hold Customer Service Reps Accountable
- Focus on your company’s core values. Many companies emphasize core values when training employees in IT, marketing, sales, and other areas but neglect this when it comes to customer service reps. Make sure people who interact with your customers understand your company’s mission and core values.
- Communication skills. Customer service reps bring varying levels of communications skills to their jobs. Whether they talk to customers on the phone, in person, or online, they need clear guidelines on what you expect from them. One critical skill for anyone in customer service is active listening, which lets customers know that they are heard and understood. Details such as how to address customers (e.g. by first name, Mr. or Ms. Sir or Ma’am), what words to use and avoid. For example, if you don’t want them to use slang, curse words, overly casual jargon or words with a negative connotation (e.g. “problem”), make sure you include this in the training.
- How to deal with dissatisfaction and complaints. Among the most challenging aspects of customer service jobs are dealing with unhappy customers. Make sure you provide clear guidelines for issues such as defective products, return requests, missed shipments, and other problems. Reps must know which problems to deal with directly, which to refer to supervisors, and exactly how to resolve common problems.
- Time management skills. In addition to providing courteous and satisfactory service to customers, your reps also need time management skills. If you reduce the time a rep spends on a particular customer from 15 minutes to 7 minutes, he or she has more time to help other customers. Part of training is to maximize efficiency and reduce the amount of time needed to deal with each issue.
Just as important as training your customer service reps is holding them accountable for what they’ve learned. There are a few ways to make sure that customer service training is effective in the long run.
Make Customer Service a Priority
- Ongoing training. In addition to an initial orientation, it’s best to approach customer service training as an ongoing process. This reinforces basic principles and gives you a chance to provide updates, introduce new ideas, and receive feedback.
- Customer surveys and assessments. Encourage customers to provide feedback on the level of service they experienced. Ask them to rate customer service reps in areas such as knowledge and courtesy. Also provide space for comments.
- Performance reviews. Periodic performance reviews ensures that you keep track of how well reps are doing their job.
- Elicit feedback from customer service reps. To improve customer service, learn as much as you can from your reps. Encourage them to provide feedback and make suggestions based on their experiences. For example, they can help you identify common customer complaints and issues. This helps you make necessary adjustments to products and policies.
Customers are getting more demanding when it comes to customer service. In order to excel in this area, the place to start is customer service training. If your customer service reps don’t know exactly what you expect from them, they can’t provide the level of service you and your customers demand. The most effective training is concise, engaging and thorough. To help you provide the latest and most innovative training for your employees, contact Knowledge Anywhere today.
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