Customer Experience Articles

Considering Customer Service Training?

Ask these 7 critical questions

Most managers and business owners know that in today’s competitive marketplace, a key strategy to differentiate your company – without slashing prices and profits – is through your team’s service. Unfortunately, when it comes to customer service training, there are plenty of pitfalls that can undermine the best intentions. To differentiate your team’s service, ask these seven critical questions.

1. Is this a flavor of the month?

You can almost hear employees’ eyes rolling when the boss quotes a new business book or TEDx presentation the team is supposed to adopt to wow customers. It’s great to learn from books, seminars, etc. However, I encourage managers to introduce subtle changes without fanfare. Skip the buzzwords that eventually become passé. Employees more readily adopt subtle shifts than wholesale changes.

2. Will management be there?

Worse than bosses espousing too many shiny new customer service fads, is when leaders themselves don’t participate in training. There’s a word for managers who expect their staff to attend training, while managers remain in their offices. It’s called hypocrisy. It sends a mixed message that undermines employee buy-in.

3. Will this motivate my team?

Sometimes I’m referred to as a motivational speaker. Frankly, I can’t motivate anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. Pep-rally type messages get employees temporarily pumped-up, but it wears-off. That’s why when I work with teams, we brainstorm why… why certain approaches are better: for customers, for your organization, and especially for employees themselves. Talking about why we do something is just as important as what we do. Motivation is more about motive than mood.

4. What if some employees miss-out?

If you have turnover challenges or circumstances when not everyone can attend a training session, you’d be forced to bring-in trainers a lot. That’s not efficient. Instead, work with trainers who are open to having the session filmed. When we work with clients, I often arrange to bring in my videographer so that the subsequent footage can be used to train additional current and future staff at a fraction of the cost.

5. Is there reinforcement?

One-shot seminars have value; they are certainly better than nothing. Like any new skill though, there needs to be ongoing reinforcement. Better to work with a training company with the depth of resources to offer coaching tools beyond the seminar that will keep the message fresh.

6. Will it be relevant?

Managers tell me that when it comes to training, they haven’t got time for interesting. Interesting is everywhere on the internet. What they need are tools that are relevant. Some topics are more applicable to enhancing service than others. Listening to an adventurer or professional athlete talk about their careers may be entertaining, but realistically it has little relevance to real jobs that deal with satisfying internal and external customers. What engages participants is choosing a presenter who specializes in employee/customer interactions; interviews several leaders before the training, and incorporates those insights into the messaging. That way it becomes a fascinating session because it’s about most people’s favorite topic – themselves.

7. Will it engage my team?

This time the fault lies not with the message; but with the messenger. You’ve likely had the misery of being imprisoned in a meeting room listening to a monotone presenter assault you with PowerPoint punishment. Conversely, there are some speakers who know how to enthrall, entertain, and engage. They skillfully customize their training to make it resonate for that particular team. Question becomes, “Who are the best customer service speakers to use?” A few suggestions…

Anyone can pay for a flashy website and present themselves as a speaker. That’s no guarantee of quality. To ensure your speaker is as good as their website, ask your colleagues who they’d recommend. Then, see if the speaker has written anything about customer interactions to indicate they’re a thought leader. After all, training begins by shifting people’s thinking. Then, check if they have earned their Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) or Hall of Fame (HoF) designation. Those are the highest credentials in the speaking profession. Bringing in a CSP or HoF speaker is as close as you can get to a written guarantee that your team won’t be bored and that they’ll actually remember the message. Then give that speaker a call and get the wheels in motion. Trust them with your employees and start reaping the rewards of a team whose service is so remarkable – it makes your prices less relevant.

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