Employee training does not receive as much attention as other organizational factors, but in terms of creating a leading Customer Experience it is an essential aspect of a successful brand. Training serves as the first moment to teach your new employees about the brand message they are supposed to relay to customers, but how do you know you are teaching the right things, and if the lessons are even effective? To ensure you are on the right track to training excellence, check out the following piece that details some common pitfalls and success of employee training, written by Micah Solomon for Forbes. You can access the piece by clicking here, or by reading below:
This piece was originally published by Forbes on February 1, 2018:
“A costly and common mistake is to think of customer service training as essentially “trade school” or “tactical training.” The trade skill, technical, and transactional aspects of customer service—how to enter notes in the CRM, how to handle a credit card return, and so forth—are important, but they aren’t where customer service training should be focused if it’s at the detriment of the deeper, more philosophical part of service mastery.
For a customer service training program to have both immediate and lasting value, its training design needs to include foundational/framework items that will inspire employees to think beyond the day in and day out, nuts-and-boltsy side of carrying out customer service, as well as having room on the agenda for tactical topics and items that straddle both categories.
Building a Customer Service Framework
The foundational items that need to be included in customer service training and be part of your service design? I’m not going to list all of them here (in part because a good customer service training program needs to be designed differently for every company and situation–because every company and situation is different), but there are ones that almost always need to be included.
One of the most essential is the customer service and organizational philosophy of purpose vs. function: the essential idea that while every employee has a variety of functions at work (the items on their job description and daily to-do list), employees have a purpose as well: the reason those functional items exist, and the reason they should step outside of their functional roles in service of their purpose. (For example, changing lightbulbs or filling out expense reports are functions. Providing a pleasant, safe, memorable experience for customers is a purpose.)
If an employee understands this concept well enough, they should know to stop changing lightbulbs or stop filling out an expense report if providing a pleasant, safe, memorable experience requires a different action at the moment. Just as important, managers should celebrate an employee’s purpose-driven exception rather than give them a hard time if they’re short a few changed lightbulbs at the end of the day or are delayed in turning in their expense report.
A second foundational essential is the importance of anticipatory customer service: service that addresses the needs and wishes of customers before they express them to you.
A third, closely related philosophical discipline is that great service requires serving the unexpressed wishes and needs of customers: the wishes and needs that a customer would never know to express because they aren’t aware of them, or because they aren’t as fully versed in the potentialities of your business, as you are, and have no idea that they could be fulfilled.
Tactical Training Items
As for the tactical items to cover in training, for most companies, these should include such items as the 10-5-3 approach to greeting and acknowledging customers, my BUBL method of interacting with a customer without disregarding the guest’s invisible privacy bubble, telephone etiquette (the importance of avoiding cold transfers, how to answer and conclude phone calls, how to screen calls without offending a caller, and the like), digital communication etiquette, and more.
Topics in the Middle
Finally, there are the topics that straddle philosophy and strategy. Many important subjects fit into this borderline category, and, again. I’m not going to list these all, but they include the importance of acknowledging guests in a personal manner, and the importance of using your entire arsenal of memory and technology to make customers feel like they’re at the center of your universe (what I call my Red Bench Principle). They also include the importance of beginnings and endings in customer service, and how to polish these until they shine, as well as the importance of and techniques for customer service recovery, including (if I’m leading the training) my AWARE method of service recovery, or whatever customer service approach to service recovery is de rigueur for the company being trained.”
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