5 Ways to Improve Your Team’s Product Knowledge

August 7, 2014
5 Ways to Improve Your Team's Product Knowledge | Office worker point at screen

When it comes down to it, a company’s thorough knowledge of its own products has the ability to make or break customer relationships, both individually and organisationally. A company that is knowledgeable of both changing market conditions and the evolving nature of its own products gives customers a sense of trustworthiness and competence. These feelings translate into customers perceiving that company or brand to be less risky than others.

More specifically, having a knowledgeable team of both sales and customer service staff inevitably leads to:

  • Enhanced customer trust on a one-to-one level
  • Empowered employees who feel ready to tackle problems without referring to a higher authority
  • Faster resolution rate for customer issues and complaints
  • Improved sales
  • Positive customer reviews when a member of staff has been particularly helpful
Product Knowledge Is Just a Start

Because of benefits like these, some successful companies have made thorough product knowledge an integral part of their brand and culture.

LUSH Cosmetics, a company renowned for its excellent customer service, values product knowledge as a way of creating empowered employees and delivering an exquisite consumer experience. According to co-founder Rowena Bird, LUSH sends its new recruits away on interactive training days where they learn about a range of products and their properties. This means they are able to sell customers what they need – not simply the latest favourite.

Meanwhile, Tech giant Apple,  focuses on building its sales staff’s knowledge continuously so they are able to stay in the know on the latest gadgets and explain why Apple is the better choice. Apple also created the ‘Genius Bar’ – a dedicated spot within every store where customers can go for technical help and advice.

So, how can business leaders go about building product knowledge across all of their teams and departments, ensuring that team members are delivering consistent product knowledge to consumers? Here are 5 ways:

1. Consistent Training

To start with, it is preferable that all members of staff within the company or branch take the same training. This way, everyone will be working from the same knowledge base, and the team will work collectively to retrieve information.

Product knowledge training must also be consistent, engaging and customised. There is no point in re-using the same material twice or giving unnecessary information to those who do not need it. Once initial training has been completed, employees should be tested using fresh new content, and this content can be tailored later on to fit particular job roles.

2. Allow Hands-On Experience

One of the fastest ways to improve employee knowledge is to allow employees lots of opportunities to become familiar with the products and services they will be selling. Whether it’s holding seminars to expose employees to new products or offering employee discounts on the items you sell, it’s crucial that employees gain exposure to the products they work with regularly.

Be sure to get feedback from staff on the products they use, such as their favourites and least favourites, as well as feedback on what can be improved.

3. Put Learning into Practise with Role Play

Use role play to encourage your employees to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise on the spot by getting other members of staff to pose as customers. And not just any old customers either, but educated customers that ask challenging, intelligent questions.

This type of training is invaluable for helping employees use their product knowledge in simulated real-word situations.

Not only does role play give your employees a chance to put their training into practise; it also encourages fluency – a sign the knowledge has been internalised and understood.

4. Provide Incentives and Reward Progress

Training can be integrated into your company’s existing incentive program using something such as a points system to incentivise customers. Points could be awarded when employees do well in knowledge tests and training exercises, and bonus perks could be ‘unlocked’ when he or she completes another section of the training.

These points could then be exchanged for prizes or perks at the end of each month or quarter. Rewards are a sure-fire way to keep training fun, relaxed and engaging for your employees.

5. Take Training Out of the Office

Give your people a change of scenery every once in a while by offering opportunities for field trips, which take training out of the usual environment.

Mark Applegate from Demand Media suggests sending your team to trade fairs, conventions, or anywhere else where they’ll be able to network and pick up some valuable market knowledge. Many trade events involve a series of seminars from manufacturer reps, where employees can get hands-on experience with new products and the chance to ask questions directly at the source.

No matter what the department or sector, a lack of proper product knowledge can have disastrous consequences for both customer relationships and a company’s reputation. The above five ideas should start you well on your way to a team that has thorough, useful product knowledge.

If you can train your people to become intimately familiar with your products and services, they’ll naturally want to share the benefits of both with your customers, giving them an edge in building positive consumer relationships.

Adele HalsallGuest Poster: Adele Halsall

Adele Halsall is a writer and researcher for Customer Service Guru. (Notice the British spellings in her post.) She is passionate about retail and consumer trends, and how this is shaped by advertising and social marketing.

She is particularly experienced in marketing and customer engagement, and enjoys contributing to ongoing debates related to best business practices, start-up culture, and the culture of customer relations. Tweet her @gurucustomers.

Guest Post Disclaimer: Guest Posts on the Customers That Stick blog are submitted by individual guest posters and in no way represent the opinions or endorsement of CTS Service Solutions, its owners or employees. CTS Service Solutions does not represent or guarantee the truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of statements or facts posted by Guest Posters on this blog.

13 thoughts on “5 Ways to Improve Your Team’s Product Knowledge”

  1. Knowledge is one of the top reasons why a company hires a certain employee. I believe that an employee’s knowledge must be valued tremendously which is what I like about your article. Thanks for the great tips.

    1. Hi Abby, Thanks for the heads up. We just reviewed the post again. You might be noticing the British spelling of the words (which we noted at the bottom). The writer who provided the piece is British, and we decided to keep her voice as submitted. We apologize if it was distracting. Hopefully, that will help the content feel more credible. We appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  2. We started implementing more training with facebook live videos and role playing. It seems to be helping but the hardest part for people is just being turned down. While excited about how our team is growing, it’s a struggle to maintain continuity amongst team members in an environment such as real estate where it’s so competitive to make a living.

    1. Thank you for the comment Ross! You bring up a good additional point, which is that product knowledge is only a start. Skills training is important, as well as cultural support and guidance on emotionally managing the ups and downs of the game, whether that be selling real estate, insurance, or anything else.

  3. This information is fantastic. Very helpful in training employees at corporate level. I am a trainer and use this technique to train associates, I can see the big change and difference in delivery of knowledge and product and CS as well.

  4. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has
    been doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I
    discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to
    reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some
    time to talk about this matter here on your site.

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