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Technology Enabled Learning Excellence Essentials January 2015

Customer Service Training Serve customers throughout the year By Joanna G. Jones October is the month where for one week each year we celebrate National Customer Service week. Setting aside a week annually to recognize and celebrate customers and the employees, who are critical in delivering excellent customer care, is a great way to reflect on the focus of customer-facing businesses. However, what about the other 51 weeks of the year? Delivering great customer service is often a 24/7 job, with little to no downtime. So while it’s important to pause and celebrate one week a year, there is much more that can be done throughout the year to keep the focus on improving workplace and customer service delivery. The only given in customer care is that it is in a constant state of flux, which is why it requires a year-round focus. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the changing landscape in which cus-tomer care is delivered, there are a number of efforts that manag-ers and leaders can make that don’t require long-range planning. We’ll look at five strategies that your organization can implement and focus on throughout the year to keep your employees moti-vated and engaged and your customers loyal. Below are five areas of focus that can be readily implemented throughout the year. Focus #1: Relevant Advice Training involves more than just educating your employees about company protocols, policy and mission. In order for employees to deliver outstanding service, they need to connect with your customers as people. When managers and trainers offer employees real-world advice that is relevant to what the customers are demanding for, employees can better understand the bigger picture and objectives of your organization and integrate the mission of your organization into customer service delivery. Experienced, successful customer-service agents can offer valuable insight into the difference between meeting performance benchmarks and exceeding them, so find a way to incor-porate best practices by your top agents into regular training sessions. Many organizations have found “lunch-time” training courses a great way to incorporate more informal training sessions into the work day. Focus #2: Training doesn’t Need to be Formal Successful managers, know how to listen and respond to your em-ployees, and then integrate their input with your overall objectives. Training doesn’t always need to be scheduled and formal. You can provide coaching/training at any time and any place when appropri-ate. Remember that often less is more, so be mindful not to be long-winded when trying to make a point. Often it is most effective to offer your employee a short piece of advice that is immediately relevant to a specific situation. When messages are communicated during these less formal interactions they are often received more clearly and ac-curately, as they aren’t lost in a longer training session. When training relates to the job at hand it is better received. If you incorporate relevant training throughout the working day, agents are better able to connect with your customers as they are empowered with the relevant tools that your customers are seeking. Focus #3: Individualize Training In call-centers, your software and equipment are the equalizer between employees. What gives your organization personality are your agents, as they bring their own strengths and skills to the workplace. Training should be representative of the many personality types and be tailored to your agents to help them develop their skills without over-emphasizing any one specific area. This isn’t about training each agent individually, but perhaps performing basic personality tests and then tailoring your training program to best enhance those person-ality types so the various skill sets of individuals can be cultivated. Focus #4: Staff Engagement To deliver effective training that maximizes ROI, look closely at what skills are needed within your team. Inbound call center employees are often trained on product awareness, complaint management or patch-ing the customer through to the appropriate department. In outbound call centers, training often focuses on ensuring employees have the knowledge and tools to advise and upsell customers on the best product fit, service or upgrade. While training around your organization’s core products and expectations are important, equally important is engaging your employees so they can get answers and support with issues they encounter while servicing customers. When employees feel that their input matters and that communication is a two-way street between staff and management, what follows is improved customer engagement and happier employees. Both outcomes are a win-win for your organization. Focus #5: Training Never Ends While formal training sessions may be scheduled at set points throughout the year, informal training takes place daily. Department budgets should include committed resources for continuous training and development. Training, whether formal or informal, not only nurtures the technical ability of your agents, but also increases staff engagement, resulting in more motivated employees with less turn-over. Training programs need to remain nimble and relevant to your market and customer demands. Staying engaged with your staff and understanding the data and metrics of your call-center, allows managers to customize the on-going training required to remain current to the ever-changing environment of customer care delivery. Successful managers utilize many tools and skills to keep employees engaged and motivated. Focusing on training and opportunities for engagement is an on-going process and can be customized to meet the needs of your employees and organization. While formal train-ing throughout the year is important, incorporating spontaneous and casual training sessions are often just as effective. Celebrating National Customer Service Week is a great opportunity to reflect on where your company has been and where it wants to go. By remaining focused on customer service improvement throughout the year, you can be assured that when National Customer Service Week is celebrated next year, you’ll have much more to celebrate and be proud of. TEL Joanna G. Jones is Executive Creative Director at Jones & Quinn. Visit jonesandquinn.com Call 805 290 2931 President of Bl 28 Submit your Articles Excellence Essentials presented by HR.com | 01.2015


Technology Enabled Learning Excellence Essentials January 2015
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