Why Customer Service Training Is the Ultimate Differentiator

 

By: Adam Toporek

We live in a world of incredibly sophisticated tools and techniques for designing customer experiences. Comprehensive big data, detailed customer personas, and extensive customer journey maps are just some of the tools organizations use to imagine and create best-in-class customer experiences.

Yet, too much of the work done in the C-Suite doesn’t translate to the front lines, creating a gap between design and execution.

Good customer journeys too often go bad.

For many B2C organizations, the failure is human; team members simply do not deliver the experience as designed or are unable to adapt when the customer’s experience deviates from the expected journey.

What separates the best-in-class customer experience companies from the rest are culture and training.

Why Training Matters

The real world that frontline teams experience is messy and difficult. From broken systems to irate customers, frontline reps have to navigate a wide variety of emotional, organizational, and psychological challenges.

Most customer service training deals with technique not emotion, with systems not psychology; yet, what frontline reps struggle with is the mentality of service — understanding their own outlooks and attitudes and coming to grips with the psychological mechanisms that cause customers to act the way they do.

Even the best frontline team members are not designed to be successful at reactive service, to say and do the right things when the going gets tough.

On the front lines of service, training is what separates the average Joes from the superheroes.

Tips for Effective Training

There is an old expression: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” The message being that if you practice the wrong things, you will not get the desired results.

Too much customer service training is focused on the perfect journey, on “here’s what to do when everything goes right.” But effective training should address the challenges that frontline teams face in the real world, the “what if” scenarios that derail frontline team members and throw customer experiences off track.

Here are three key areas that you can center your training around:

·     Delivering Effective Communication — How much of a customer’s experience centers on communication and yet how little focus does this crucial aspect of service get in most training? Communication training should focus on key areas like first impressions and greetings, delivering key experiential moments, and handling difficult situations. Communication training should incorporate key phrases, power words, and, whenever possible, real-world simulation through role play.

·     Creating Painless Transfers — In Be Your Customer’s Hero, we discuss the 7 Service Triggers that are hot buttons for customers today. One of the most important service triggers is being shuffled, which refers to the hassle and stress of being transferred repeatedly to resolve an issue. Transfer training should focus on how to minimize the number of transfers through better routing and empowerment and how to eliminate the stress associated with transfers through techniques like warm transferring and assuring accountability.

·     Anticipating Expected Issues — While customer issues are never completely predictable, organizations can find patterns in the most common service issues. In my customer service keynote speeches, I often advise applying Pareto (or 80/20) analysis to identify the few challenges that make up the majority of service issues. By training for these expected issues, teams will not only be able to navigate them more effectively but will also learn key principles that they can apply to other situations they face.

The above tips are but a few of the many customer service training ideas you can implement to make your team’s customer service skill set Hero-Class®.

Differentiate Through Training

To set your organization apart from its competitors, begin by designing a heroic, best-in-class journey and then create a robust training program to help make sure that journey is consistently well-executed.

Many organizations create excellent customer journeys that succeed on a piece of paper or a computer screen but are never fully realized for customers in actual practice.

In a world where sophisticated customer experience design tools are available to almost everyone, it is execution that wins the day and training that separates good service from great.

In customer service, training is the ultimate differentiator.

About the Author

Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. As a 3rd-generation entrepreneur with extensive experience in retail and franchising, Adam brings a unique lens to organizations that need to train their frontline teams to deliver Hero-Class® experiences to customers.

Adam is the author of Be Your Customer’s Hero: Real- World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (AMACOM, 2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog.

From Huffington Post to Entrepreneur, Adam has appeared or been cited in nearly 100 different media outlets, including podcasts, radio, and television.

Adam has an MBA, a Certificate in Customer Experience from the Center for Services Leadership, and is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate. When he’s not speaking or delivering high energy customer service workshops, he can be found co-hosting the Crack the Customer Code podcast and writing extensively about customer experience and customer service.