Customer service is what holds many corporations together and allows them to succeed. Possible benefits of having a proper customer service team in place include improved relationships with customers, increased sales, greater loyalty and a more positive work environment. Having a training program will emphasize how important customer service is to your business. In this article, we share several training ideas and types of training that can easily be incorporated into any workforce.
What is customer service training?
Customer service training is a program to build employees' understanding of the proper ways to interact with customers. To have effective interactions with all customers, employees would benefit from a training program that teaches the skills, knowledge and tools they'll need. Customer service training also gives employees confidence in their work. The ultimate goal is for customers to have a positive impression of the company based on the experience they had with its customer service team.
Why is customer service training important?
Customer service training is important so your customers glean value from your organization. The success of a business has a lot to do with the value a customer places on that business. Customer service training helps employees gain new skills so that their customer interactions remain positive and effective. Training is also important so all employees follow a company standard during customer communication. With consistency, customers know what to expect and appreciate a company for it.
Customer loyalty and overall revenue will likely increase when employees focus on communication and problem-solving and are committed to improving the workplace.
A well-developed training program also helps employees feel more engaged with the company. Employees feel more motivated and loyal to the company when they experience a shared direction. Employees are then even more driven to participate in future training sessions because they know it is for the benefit of the business and its customers. Employee happiness has a direct impact on customer happiness.
Types of customer service training
The type of customer service training you incorporate into your workplace will depend on the team or group you have. Most groups can benefit from the use of a combination of different training types. Here are some types of customer service training you may employ:
- New employee training
- Ongoing training
Instructor-led training works by getting the team to interact with each other. This training is beneficial because the high level of in-person interaction improves employee engagement, which, in turn, improves communication between team members. Team members who practice effective communication among themselves experience increased productivity. They also express more creativity in their tasks, projects and even their communication with customers.
Instructor-led training can also provide employees with more impactful takeaways that they can start using right away in their day's work.
Webinars are great for training team members who may not be able to get together in person to complete training. Remote positions are more prevalent than ever, so it's beneficial to have a training method to incorporate employees from multiple locations. A webinar training series allows each employee to attend the same training, either at their desk or home office. Some webinars even have a chat option along with a question and answer session that allows all employees to interact with one another and the trainer. Employees can also record and re-watch webinars at their convenience.
New employee training
An effective new hire orientation introduces the employees to the company's mission, values and the services and programs it provides to customers. Employees learn preliminary information on how they should interact with customers, the lasting impression those customers should have and about the company culture. Now is the time that team members start to build the internal knowledge base that they can use during customer situations.
Any successful corporation will continue to provide training to its staff that helps them to develop workplace skills. It's important that employees consistently learn and grow so that they can contribute to a productive workforce. Ongoing training can include quality assurance call reviews, in-depth training presentations and peer evaluations.
Customer service training ideas
Customer service training programs provide your team with the resources they need to be successful in their roles. You can teach high-quality customer service with exercises and activities that inspire and prepare your team for their future interactions with any customer.
Training games create an atmosphere of fun while also providing teachable moments. Games and activities get the team involved in the training process by encouraging interaction with co-workers and managers. Here are some customer service training ideas and activities.
- Culture training
- Thank you letters
- Personality tests
- Social media training
- A customer's shoes
- Paperclip demonstration
- Pick your group
- Crisis training
- A customer's perspective
- Anchoring your attitude
- Avoid saying no
- Two truths and a lie
- Product demonstration
- Quality assurance training
- Define customer service
- Listening exercises
- Did you pay attention?
During culture training, employees learn the values of the company and what that means for their customer interactions. Having the right culture in the workplace means that customers can have positive and consistent experiences.
You play this game by passing along a whispered message from one person to the other until you get to the last person in the line. Telephone is a classic game that demonstrates how a message can be misinterpreted and misheard over and over again. By the time the last person announces what they heard, the team is quick to discover that the original message has changed enough times to be completely different.
As part of delivering premier service, it's important to communicate effectively with your customers, making sure they know you have heard and understood what they're saying. Telephone teaches teams that listening to customers and communicating effectively with teammates about a situation are essential tools for success.
Thank you letters
For this activity, have each person think of a positive customer interaction. Then, instruct them to write a thank you letter to themselves from the customer's perspective. This training idea can boost morale and help an agent realize the importance of their job.
Since every person is different, having the team take personality tests will help them to understand that they may come across any type of person in their day. Personality tests usually explain what drives a person and how to best engage with that individual, a key component of customer service interactions.
Social media training
It's common for your customers to be on social media and contact you through these channels. It would be very beneficial to train members of your team for these interactions. Teach them how to operate on the platform and when a conversation needs to go offline.
A customer's day
Encourage your staff to think about an interaction they had with an upset customer. Then, instruct them to think about hypothetical situations the customer could have experienced that would affect their attitude. This shows that employees should always treat customers with respect.
If sales is a part of a customer service agent's job, the paperclip demonstration is great training. Give a paperclip to a trainee and instruct them to describe the object using all five senses. For a challenge, come up with common adjectives that are off-limits.
When setting up a role-play exercise, place employees in mock scenarios where each team member is assigned to a role in a customer service-oriented situation. Practice different scenarios your team may find themselves in, and they will be better prepared for when that situation comes up in the future. Everyone has different experiences, and role-playing is a way to share knowledge, which leads to a new way of thinking.
Pick your group
This exercise teaches that customers would prefer to be in comfortable situations. To act out this training, divide the group into four smaller groups. Have them take their place in one of the four corners of the room with instructions to behave in a certain way.
One group can sing loudly, another can jump up and down and yet another can count to ten over and over again. The last group should have normal conversations. Every 30 seconds, instruct everyone to choose another corner. In the end, tell them to choose the corner they liked the most. Most often, they'll choose the "normal" corner.
Crisis training prepares agents in the event of a company mistake that affects a lot of customers or the reputation of the business. Have a plan in place for an influx of phone calls and train staff on how the business will operate should this happen.
A customer's perspective
A customer's perspective is a role-playing activity that helps agents understand how a customer interacts with the business. A trainee will go through the motions of buying the product or service so they have a better understanding of and appreciation for the experience.
Anchoring your attitude
The attitude anchors game helps employees keep great attitudes. The idea is to have them come up with both maintenance anchors, which are ideas that can help agents maintain a positive conversation with a customer, and repair anchors, which are actions that help an agent move forward after a difficult customer call.
Avoid saying no
This is a challenging yet instrumental training if you want to do as much as possible for the customer. In pairs, teams should take turns playing the role of a customer who makes big requests. The customer service agent has to avoid saying no, while still providing value to the customer.
To get trainees more immediately comfortable with being a part of the larger group, try fun icebreaker exercises. This helps the training to move along at a normal pace because team members feel more comfortable with each other. Icebreakers help employees improve their customer service skills by opening them up to new relationships and the scenario of meeting new customers.
Related: 12 Icebreaker Ideas for Small Groups
Two truths and a lie
In this game, have each person tell the group two truths and a lie about themselves. The group has to guess which is the lie. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that you never truly know a person so all interactions should be without bias.
Product demonstrations allow employees to become more familiar with the product or service they are responsible for knowing about and selling to customers. How comfortable a customer feels with their experience is somewhat based on their interaction with customer service agents and how engaged the members of that team are with the company they work for.
Use product demonstration as a part of customer service training so employees can represent the business well when speaking with customers.
Quality assurance training
Quality assurance training helps the team see what they are doing right and how they can improve. Play recorded calls from agents so they can all praise their teammates while also offering constructive feedback.
Customer service terms
Have the team write down what customer service means to them so they are reminded of the value they bring to their customers.
Listening exercises include a balance of reflective and active listening. Employing both listening methods will show the customers that they are being heard. This is an important part of any great customer service interaction.
In reflective listening, the agent repeats a customer's thoughts back to them when responding by directly addressing their comments and using the same language the customer used. When using reflective listening, clarify what a customer means, if needed. Face-to-face interactions with customers benefit most from active listening which involves body language such as head nods and eye contact. It also includes clear and appropriate responses based on a customer's feedback.
Related: How to Be a Good Listener
Did you pay attention?
A large part of successful customer service is paying attention. At the end of the day, ask employees for details about the training, such as the color of your marker. This will show how closely they pay attention to everything around them.