9 Customer Service Training Ideas That Work

May 31, 2016

Looking for ideas to help focus your customer service training and get results? Far too often, managers, business owners, and organizational leaders struggle with how to effectively train their frontline teams.

9 Customer Service Training Ideas That Work

Of course, nothing can replace formal, professional training, but leaders can accomplish a great deal by focusing their efforts on customer service training ideas that have proven to be effective.

Here are nine ideas that can help any organization focus on training that works.

  1. Practice Greetings and First Impressions — While studies may disagree on how fast we form first impressions and what judgments we make in our initial interactions, the consensus is clear: first impressions happen quickly and matter greatly. Greetings might seem simple and not worthy of specific training, but consider how often you’ve been on the wrong side of a greeting as customer. Either the greeting was delivered poorly, unenthusiastically, or not at all. Don’t take greetings and first impressions for granted. Work with your team to deliver a consistent and positive greeting to every customer.
  2. Share System Best Practices — All too often, frontline reps are trained on “the register” or “the system” when they first start, and their training ends there. While customer experience training is certainly necessary, it is important to remember that great customer experience depends on the frontline reps having the time to deliver it. Making sure all reps know the best practices and time savers that can make them more efficient with the company’s register or CRM system can free up time for more focus on customers.
  3. Simulate Conditions — While training can never replicate the real world, the more you can mimic reality, the more effective role playing will be. When role playing face-to-face situations, if possible, try to practice at the register, the counter, or somewhere where the action takes place. When role playing phone interactions, try to use the actual phone or at least have reps stand back to back, eliminating the insights from facial expressions and body language that are absent on the phone.
  4. Train on Documentation — As we noted in Be Your Customer’s Hero, great documentation is at the heart of great service; yet, it is rarely discussed and even more rarely trained. Take an opportunity every once in awhile to train the team on the best ways to document a service interaction, the types of information it is important to record, and any particularly helpful documentation habits.
  5. Practice Transfers and Transitions — Being Shuffled is one of the 7 Service Triggers that are likely to set customers off. Far too many customer service interactions go bad when a customer is being transferred to someone else. While transfers should be avoided as much as possible, they are inevitable, and it is important to train teams on the best ways to make transfers as painless as possible for customers.
  6. Role Play the Last Issue — Obviously, role playing should be a key component of any customer service training program. One specific way to use role playing that is timely and relevant is to focus on the last issue a rep had trouble handling. By focusing on a recent challenge, you make sure your role playing stays grounded in the real world and addresses the immediate concerns of your teams.
  7. Discuss Options — One of the primary rules from Be Your Customer’s Hero is to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. When I work with frontline reps in our customer service workshops, it’s clear that many frontline reps struggle with what options they are able to present customers. Helping your team members to know not only what options are available but which circumstances they might be helpful in can help them feel prepared for those dreaded times when they cannot provide the customer what he or she is requesting.
  8. Explore Empowerment — In a similar vein, empowering employees effectively is one of the most powerful methods for solving customer issues in real time and preventing escalation. However, any empowerment that is granted should also be trained. Team members should understand what they can and cannot do, can and cannot give, to make a customer service situation right. In addition, training on empowerment makes it real and helps team members feel psychologically empowered in addition to being actually empowered (see this post for a breakdown of actual vs. psychological empowerment).
  9. Share Your Heroes — Every organization has stories of Hero-Class® acts of service performed by their frontline team members. Sometimes, one of the best ways to motivate and give confidence to frontline teams is to show them how their peers have succeeded in delivering superior service. Share the stories of the heroes in your organization, and if you have the customer feedback to go with the story, share that too.

In our customer service training workshops, we use a wide variety of customer service training ideas to help make training, fun, relevant and actionable. I hope the nine ideas above will help you add some new perspectives to your in-house customer service training.

Please let us know in the comments below; what are your favorite customer service training ideas?

9 thoughts on “9 Customer Service Training Ideas That Work”

  1. Great post, Adam! As a CX professional, I am always looking for best practices for providing excellent customer experiences. I manage a call center and know how hard my team works to delight our customers. I especially love how you discuss celebrating heroes. I created an internal Slack channel that is solely dedicated to celebrating employee achievements and have found this to be both rewarding and motivating. Thank you for sharing great ideas!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Katie! The Slack channel for “heroes” is fantastic! It’s so great that a call center leader like you is out there expanding her horizons and looking for ways to make her team better, whether it be here or through any of the other excellent blogs, books, etc. out there.

      And it’s awesome that you’re sharing your voice through your own blog: What a great discovery! I’ve added it to my customer service list.

      Keep up the great work!

  2. Almost all of these were practiced on a few of the training sessions I attended for customer service. I especially loved doing role plays on difficult situations. Gets to give you a real grasp on handling them. Thanks for this awesome list! 🙂

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