People don’t interact with brands like they used to.
Slowly but steadily, the overall brand experience has become as important as the actual products or services. This is true for as many as 84% of consumers. So how do you make sure your customer experience gives you an edge over your competitors—when just creating superior products won’t cut it anymore?
Three words: stellar customer service.
Customer service is no longer your last line of defense against angry customers. It’s an integral part and natural extension of your whole brand strategy; a way to ensure these clients will never be angry in the first place.
The infallible way to achieve this and keep achieving it consistently is by investing in a remarkable customer service training program.
Benefits of a successful customer service training program
Customer service training programs aim to develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies of your employees to increase customer satisfaction. Every person in your organization that has contact with customers should take customer service training, but most importantly, your customer service teams.
But why should you invest in a thorough customer service training program? Let’s explore what’s in it for your people and organization.
Customer service has a big impact on the success of your organization. By providing your teams with all they need through customer service training, you achieve the following:
- Increased employee motivation and engagement: Employees feel you care about their development and career progress, so they are truly inspired to assist customers.
- Enhanced knowledge and skillset: Your teams become more competent when it comes to communication, active listening, problem-solving, and organization.
- Boosted confidence and morale: Confident teams bring amazing results in customer service and can transform the whole workplace environment.
Happy customers equal more purchases. When your teams are properly trained, your customers are more likely to feel valued, appreciated, and respected. With customer service training, you can achieve:
- Improved customer satisfaction: Your customers know that their issues will be resolved quickly and successfully, without having to make repeat calls.
- Increased customer loyalty: Loyal customers will return to your business again and again. By improving the customer experience, you won’t worry about securing repeat business.
The way you serve your customers will define the end results and goals of your business. By investing in a stellar customer service training program, your business will reap the benefits of:
- Bigger turnover and profit: A competent customer service team can achieve high customer retention and acquisition. At the same time, satisfied employees mean reduced employee turnover and better bottom-line sales.
- Increased brand reputation: The customer experience says a lot, and chances are that happy customers will be willing to let everyone know about your business. Word-of-mouth is your biggest ally when it comes to your brand’s reputation.
Creating your customer service training program from A-Z
The efficiency of your customer service training hinges on three things: proper planning, proper execution, and proper evaluation. But how will you set up your customer service training for success?
Understand your customers and set clear goals
Before you set up your customer service training program, you need to know who you’re setting it for—and why.
Customer analytics plays a key part in building a successful customer service plan. You need data that will tell you things like:
- What kind of meaningful experience do customers expect from your brand?
- What’s the best way to connect with them?
- What is your customers’ current perception of your brand?
By using such data as a marker, you can create customer service training courses that will ensure your team engages with your customers in a meaningful way.
Also, your customer service training program will more than cover its cost. According to a Gallup research, using analytics to implement targeted interventions for emotionally engaging customers can bring you 50% higher revenue and a 55% higher share of wallet.
Identify training needs
After discovering what your customers want, it’s time to figure out where exactly you fall short on delivering. A training needs analysis will help you with that.
A training needs analysis will help you understand:
- Your current weaknesses on an organizational level
- The role managers currently play in customer service training
- What internal resources you can pull up to help with training
- What abilities/skills/knowledge your team mostly lacks in
- The different levels of training different employees may require
- What motivates your employees to learn
This analysis will give you a clearer picture of your team’s current skill levels and strengths. Think of it as your point A; this is where you’re starting from. And you already have your point B, which is what your customers want. Now all you need to do is build the bridge that will take you from point A to point B.
That bridge is, of course, your customer service training program.
Find the balance between different learning methods
Are you familiar with the 70:20:10 framework?
People learn best when most of their training (70%) is experiential. Ideally, this experiential learning should be supplemented with a smaller part (20%) of learning directly from others. Only a small part (10%) should consist of formal training.
Simply put, creating a customer service training manual and expecting your employees to memorize it, is not the way to go.
Your customer service training should consist of different learning methods that will tick the boxes for experiential, social, and formal learning. Then, you will be able to produce engaging content for your customer service training.
Focus on fostering a learning culture
It’s become clear by now that you need to diversify your customer service training materials. The same thing goes for your actual training content.
It’s tempting to think that customer service training will be mostly about product knowledge, perhaps with a dash of sales skills. But as important as product knowledge is, knowledge of company culture is even more crucial.
We’ve already seen the tremendous value customers place in a great brand experience. To be able to give them that experience, your customer service team needs to have a deep understanding of your mission and values. They need to know what makes your company unique. They also need to embody these values and be able to act as your brand ambassadors.
To set them up for success, make sure to include a module about your company culture in your customer service training.
Don’t forget soft skills
Everything we just said about company culture also applies to soft skills.
Soft skills are essential to any customer service team. Empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution in particular, can make all the difference between a happy and a frustrated customer.
Other essential soft skills you can include in your customer service training program are clear communication, positive language, and, of course, persuasion.
Evaluate your training program
Make sure you measure results, properly and often. As with any employee training, your customer service training will not be a one-off. Rather, it will be an ongoing process. So evaluation, and giving feedback, should be an ongoing process as well.
Measuring the effectiveness of your customer service training program should be twofold. On one hand, you’ll need to understand if the program managed to keep your employees engaged. You can measure things like:
- What the drop-out rate was, both from webinars and from exercises
- How people performed/ what the main pain points were
- How people felt about the experience (you can ask them to evaluate the course and themselves)
At the same time, you also need to examine how completing the program has affected some of your core KPIs. In this part of the evaluation process, you should look at things like:
- How long it takes to resolve/respond to client issues
- What the abandon rate of calls and chats is
- The number of customer callbacks
- How many chats/calls your team can complete per hour
That last part is also a way to calculate the ROI of your customer service program. You can look at your team’s improvement rate post-training, check how much net benefit this gives you per day, and compare that to the program’s cost.
Give feedback, properly and often
As your evaluation process will be ongoing, so should your feedback.
Check in with your team often. Be specific, offer actionable advice, and make sure to balance the positive with the negative comments.
How the right solution can boost your training program
Delivering all this great, diverse, engaging content into the wrong training platform, will affect both logistics and engagement. You need a training platform that’s flexible enough to allow you to create different types of training content and courses that boost customer service skills—and smart enough to take care of housekeeping.
Using an LMS, especially one that has an integration with a teleconference tool like Zoom, will make your life infinitely easier. You can schedule classes, distribute content, and have all your diverse learning methods in one hub. Most importantly: you can easily track progress and engagement. This will make evaluation a breeze.
Make sure the software you choose offers the following features to make your customer service training program a big hit.
If you want to make learning fun, motivating, and engaging, you should look for an LMS with gamification features.
Healthy competition motivates employees and gives them a sense of accomplishment. For example, when learners complete a course, they receive a type of reward–badges, titles, or actual prizes, like company swag or gift cards. And they can check the team’s performance easily by viewing leaderboards and staying ahead of the competition.
Branching scenarios emulate realistic situations which are experienced in most jobs and workplaces. These online training tools let learners make decisions in a realistic (yet digital) scenario and see the consequences of their actions in a safe environment. Depending on the learner’s actions and choices the scenario branches off along different paths and outcomes.
As a result, learning becomes more fun and less scary, active participation increases learner engagement, problem-solving skills improve, and learners can apply in action what they have learned in methodology.
Instead of offering generic courses on customer service, you can conduct coaching sessions through your LMS with the help of videoconferencing integrations. Coaches have the tools and techniques to pinpoint specific areas for improvement and actively assist in the development of learners.
Through mentoring and coaching, it’s possible to better define the employee’s goals, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Then, the mentor creates a specific development plan and provides the best pathway to improve the learner’s skills, while offering direct feedback.
The best way to streamline coaching and mentoring sessions to boost your customer service training is to take advantage of videoconferencing tools like Zoom or BigBlueButton, which can be integrated into your software. Employees (especially those who are working remotely) can attend their coaching sessions no matter where they are located, reaping all the benefits 1:1 sessions have to offer.
Allow your people to fit training into their busy schedules and offer a more personalized approach to learning by opting for a solution that supports mobile compatibility.
Go mobile for your customer service training program and let employees log in through the convenience of their own smart devices. Combine mobile learning with microlearning and boost knowledge retention as well as engagement for your self-paced learning employees who can learn on the go or during downtime.
Creating courses from the start can take up a lot of time, money, and effort. But it’s possible to find the content you need in the content library of your LMS.
Your customer service teams can be trained fast, effectively, and without breaking the bank by taking ready-made online training courses. Topics may include all you need to ensure your customer service training program is effective, like communication, management, conflict resolution, and more.
While collecting data about the training performance of your customer service teams, you might realize that some users might not have started or completed their training. Or, you might even want to notify them about the training course you want them to take. Now imagine having to do this action manually. It would take forever.
If your training software supports mass notifications, you can let your people know which actions you want them to perform concerning their training. You can send them an email invitation to customer service training through the LMS in no time, making operations seamless.
You want your training to be effective. And for this to happen, it’s essential that you are able to measure success in an easy way. Reporting features in your LMS allow you to gather valuable insights concerning the effectiveness of your training and the employee performance.
Make sure your software gives you data access to different reporting sections such as users, courses, branches, groups, tests, surveys, and assignments. Closely examine how learners perform by viewing their logins, courses, certifications, and activities and make changes in your customer service training program and set it up for success, if needed.
Skyrocketing customer service training
Successful customer service training creates teams that will consistently offer a great brand experience to your customers.
To do that, you need to understand your customers and your blind spots during the planning stage. You need to balance between different training methods and subjects during the execution stage, as well as invest in the right platform.
Finally, you need to be diligent about evaluating. Research more on what to ask your employees after the training session. The results will be measurable—and will make all the difference for your brand.