What is customer service training?
Customer service training refers to the process of upskilling and reskilling customer service employees so they can improve their performance and increase customer satisfaction. Training employees in customer service has to be an ongoing process to ensure their consistent growth.
Customer service training is an important facet of every training plan because it determines how your employees will communicate with customers. Research indicates that $62 billion is lost in the United States annually due to poor customer service.
On the other hand, well-trained customer care agents can build long-lasting customer relationships with the help of their soft skills and emotional intelligence. Communication is a valuable topic covered in customer service skills training and employees will have a chance to hone their conversation and communication skills in practical scenarios.
A happy customer base is usually a loyal customer base which improves the company’s prospects tremendously. Salesforce, in their report State of the Connected Customer, reports that 80% of buyers value customer care experience just as much as a company’s products or services. According to Hubspot, 93% of customers show a greater tendency for repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service.
If you want your employees to offer excellent customer service, you have to create and implement an excellent customer service training program.
Importance of customer service training
While you cannot control your customers’ reactions and emotions, you do have control over the type of customer service your company offers. Customer service training creates well-rounded employees who can communicate with customers, solve their problems, resolve conflicts and personify the company they represent. Dedicated agents who do their job well are bound to improve customer satisfaction and feedback in the long run.
Almost 3 out of 5 consumers say that good customer service increases their loyalty toward a brand, according to Zendesk. This means that you have to constantly improve your customer service if you want to retain your existing customers. Research by Bain and Company reveals that increasing customer retention rates by even 5% can increase profits by 25%-95%.
Since quality customer support has an undeniable connection to customer retention and satisfaction, it is mandatory to offer customer service skills training.
Should you make a customer service training plan?
According to Microsoft, 90% of Americans consider customer service to be a deciding factor when wondering if to purchase from a company. This means that you cannot afford to go wrong when creating your customer service training program. Ideally, you should create a customer service training plan after assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the company in the customer service department. A formal training plan will allow you to focus on specific topics and skills, and update them accordingly. Your employees will also be more likely to take the training seriously when you implement a proper training program.
You can also use your customer service training plan to map out a blended learning approach that is effective and budget-friendly. Customer service officials require a combination of on the job training and social training to develop all the essential skills required for efficient service.
Hiring customer service officials
Taking personality and traits into consideration will determine your success when hiring customer service officials. For example, you might hire a barista who hates small talk and is generally aloof thinking that you can offer them soft skills training. However, the truth is soft skills and emotional intelligence can be difficult to teach unless the employees are open-minded and ready to change.
Your best option is to look for the following skills when hiring customer support agents:
1. Good communication skills:
Customer service officials have to be good communicators in order to impress customers. Make sure that your interview process allows candidates to express their communication skills. If someone is unable to interact with you freely and express their thoughts properly, they might not be the best fit for a customer service position.
It is not essential for candidates to have prior experience in customer service to be a good hire for you, but that there’s no doubt that experienced customer care officials can be valuable. You will be able to gauge whether they get on well with customers and go out of their way to be helpful by asking them about their experience.
3. People skills:
It goes without saying that good customer service officials have innate people skills that allow them to develop positive relationships with both customers and their colleagues.
4. Eager to learn:
Customer service officials have to know everything about your products and services so they can answer questions. Any employee you hire should be keen to learn about the company and put in extra effort initially. Interested and enthusiastic candidates will come to the interview after researching the company thoroughly, which indicates their interest in gaining knowledge.
Onboarding customer service employees
Customer service training begins at the onboarding stage itself so that the employees have time to prepare themselves.
· Break up the training into smaller modules
It can be overwhelming for new employees if you hand over all the training materials on their very first day. It is important to pace the training properly so they can learn the basics before tackling more complex topics.
· Encourage hands-on training
You will find that new employees are reluctant to jump into a conversation with customers before the training is complete, but the truth is practical experience is always valuable. Assign particular support channels to your employees and roleplay with them as customers, so they understand the tactics and practices clearly. This will also give you an idea about their progress. Hands-on training can be greatly effective for any soft skills training.
· Implement a mentorship program
Customer service skills are easier to learn for employees when someone offers guidance and advice in their first few months on the job. You can supplement your training program by assigning mentors to new employees. The mentor-mentee relationship helps employees adjust to their new duties, and they can also learn through imitation by shadowing their mentors.
· Test product knowledge
Weekly or monthly evaluations are essential for tracking the progress of your customer service employees. Not only do they have to know the products and services inside out, but they also have to converse about them with customers without any problem. Test their product knowledge by organizing quizzes. You can also divide the team into pairs and encourage them to act out a scenario as a customer and an agent.
· Reward and recognize your employees’ efforts
Rewarding your employees for their hard work is an excellent way to keep them motivated and engaged. Customer service training can become quite tough, and those who show consistent improvement deserve some recognition through a rewards program.
You can set up goals and reward candidates who fulfill them. Even if you do not want to reward them with a physical object, you can always shower them with praise. It is also important to offer constructive criticism to those who are not performing well instead of being tough and strict.
· Track progress
For your rewards and recognition program to be effective, you have to track and monitor the progress of your employees in the training program. You can set up short-term training goals as well as long-term training goals so that employees feel a sense of achievement of fulfilling the former while retaining the drive to improve. Bites, for example, makes it easy for you to monitor the progress of your employees because it comes with an inbuilt analytics dashboard.
Different types of customer service training
The following types of customer service training enjoy maximum popularity:
1. Instructor-Led Training
As the name suggests, instructors deliver information in a highly interactive manner in this format. It encourages exciting conversations and knowledge sharing so that employees remain engaged. Instructor-led training can take place in both virtual and physical classrooms.
If you want to address a large group with members located in different geographical locations, you will enjoy webinars. Participants can join the meeting quickly and contribute. Webinars also encourage communication between employees who might know each other well, and this develops their skills of communicating with customers online.
Online training is one of the most popular corporate training methods, and it is incredibly effective. Employees all around the world can learn at the same time, and the learner engagement rates tend to be on the higher side. One of the primary reasons why eLearning has gained so much popularity in such a short time is its flexibility in terms of budget, schedule and content. Employees can learn and absorb information when it is convenient for them instead of the other way around. Employers also find it easier to monitor their employees’ training progress online. Online learning solutions like Bites make setting up a lot easier.
Role-playing is a useful training technique for customer service officials because they are able to practice real-life scenarios and work on their responses in a safe environment without any real consequences. Employees learn how to use the skills they are learning most effectively.
5. Job Aids
Job aids can be helpful as references when employees are beginning to execute their duties for the first time. You can create PDF documents or videos encapsulating everything they learnt so they can refer to them in case of an emergency. This training is effective because employees are able to recall important information on the spot.
How to train customer service employees online?
If you want to offer customer service classes online, the following tools and strategies will help you:
1. Video Learning
Video learning is exciting and engaging, which is why employees retain information conveyed via visual means for a longer period. Customer service and soft skills have to be imitated and practiced over and over again for noticeable improvement. Videos allow you to show practical demonstrations of what the employees are learning in theory, and it allows them to understand the execution process. Effective video learning is highly dependent on microlearning, which means that employees have to absorb small bits of knowledge at a time. Bites is one of the best video learning solutions available for training your customer service employees because it lets you record and edit an impressive training course and share it with your employees directly, creating a learning community.
2. Online simulation
Online simulations can be an excellent way for employees to practice the skills they learn in real-life scenarios and learn their strengths and weaknesses. They do not have to fear consequences which increases their likelihood of being transparent and honest. As a result, they experience actual growth because their mistakes are corrected. With the introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), simulations are now commonly used in training. There is no doubt that scenario-based learning will be invaluable for customer service training.
Games are fun, challenging and highly engaging. Mixing work and fun will most likely encourage your employees to pay more attention to what they are learning. Games promote healthy competition and you can also create a rewards and recognition program surrounding it. Enthusiastic learners will love the challenge and the added element of fun during daily product knowledge quizzes.
4. Use analytics
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics have now made it possible for you to collect a lot of data regarding your employees’ learning habits, strengths and weaknesses. For example, Bites has an analytics dashboard so you can monitor the progress of your employees. You can use this data to personalize the program further, offer constructive criticism and cater to everyone’s learning preferences.
Bites is a modern, innovative learning solution that is perfect for training your customer service employees. It allows you to record short videos containing both information and demonstrations that are easily digestible for the learners. You can combine them into a playlist and share them directly with your employees. Since the videos are interactive and multimedia, learners actually enjoy watching them. There is a discussion forum for them to discuss the lessons and you can use the analytics dashboard to track their progress and identify the training gaps. Since customer service training is ongoing and continuous Bites is an excellent way to keep your employees up to date.