Essential to Train and Develop Customer Service Employees

“When people call our call center, our reps don’t have scripts, and they don’t try to up-sell. They are just judged on whether they go above and beyond for the customer and really deliver a kind of personal service and emotional connection with our customers.” – Tony Hsieh

It is the responsibility of every company to train and develop their employees – it is a robust way to progress, acquire new skills, and sharpen the existing skills present in the company’s employees. Our focus is on the need to train and develop customer service employees – they deal with stressful situations, conflicts, tough customers, crisis, and other such challenges daily and possibly more than any other set of employees within a company. Dealing with customers under normal situations is hard. This difficulty is compounded when customers become upset due to whatever reason. Without being adequately equipped to deal with these situations, that arise consistently, the customer service teams could soon slacken and become unresponsive towards customers. We know the cost of poor customer service – hard to recover from it, since customers would be unforgiving of slovenly behaviour towards them.

It is a wise move to train and develop customer service employees – they should be able to remain in control and make spot decisions around customer needs. Decision-making and interpersonal skills, thinking creatively, remaining calm under pressure, exhibiting empathy and concern, and other such skills, are critical for the frontline staff. Customers do not like to wait or feel undervalued – they would just walk away to the nearest competitor, which is never good for any company, irrespective of size and stature. In the current age of technology, digitization, and information companies can no longer compete on their products and services. They would remain competitive and successful through the emotional and intelligence quotient of their people. Making efforts to train and develop customer service employees and others, is a great investment in the future of the company since the external world would judge the company and determine its culture based on what they see via the company’s representatives.

Poorly trained customer service staff would cost the company a lot more than just a few customers. Shoddily treated customers move to competition, let others know about their unpleasant experiences, share comments and posts via visible platforms like social media – all these factors bring shame to a company and tear its reputation to bits in a matter of minutes. Recovery takes a long time, involves huge costs, and a company could lose some of its best talent, investors, and other stakeholders. It is therefore a lot more expensive and onerous to have poorly trained customer service staff than it is to train and develop customer service employees.

On-going training and development programs give employees, confidence in the company. They know that the company is interested in their development and progression – this is in turn leads to employee retention and a willingness to do more for the company and its customers. Companies have come to understand that employee retention is now no longer an expense, but rather a long-term sensible investment that is very likely to produce a high ROI and therefore make the time to train and develop customer their employees. Training and development opportunities are an extremely effective and potent method of showing care and concern for employees, and are one of the top things that prospective employees look for before joining a company.

The time, money, and effort to train and develop customer service employees should be geared towards helping them to execute their stressful jobs with high efficiency. This is where training programs play a vital role. Considering that customer service staff is now, expected to act in many different capacities, a focus on their development is essential too. This would enable them to deal with the ‘extra’ activities, perform additional duties, and equip them skills required to move up the corporate ‘ladder’. For example – in addition to answering routine queries, the service representatives would be expected to help customers with troubleshooting some complex problems too. For this, they would need trouble-shooting and some amount of technical knowledge and skills.

What are the aims of your company to train and develop customer service employees? There are certain things, we believe happen through training and development for this set of employees. Given the fact that the best efforts would not prevent errors and lead to customer dissatisfaction, providing training and development opportunities allows them to know that making mistakes is acceptable so long as they learn from them. Trial and error may happen, but training and development ensure that the bad practices and poor conduct do not become part of the way that things are managed for customers. As the employees get better at their job, their confidence and self-esteem receive a boost, making them more amenable to taking on additional responsibilities and may be even managing small teams. By affording opportunities to train and develop customer service employees, a company helps them understand better what they do and how they can consistently improve.

While it is human to err and make mistakes, the opportunities for blunders are reduced greatly through training and development. Small service lapses may go unnoticed a few times, but mistakes that adversely affect customers, could have extremely detrimental and far-reaching negative effects. Angry customers can become extremely difficult to deal with and could wreak havoc on a company and its reputation. Building on the point of reduced errors, making efforts to train and develop customer service employees would ensure that they realize their shortcomings, make efforts to remove them, and work on building their strengths. A robust development program helps all employees come up to speed, work cohesively, and take the company to greater heights – it improves, overall, the performance, output, and quality of work in each employee and maintains consistency in their efficiency in performing their roles.

With time and consistent training, customer service employees understand the company and its products better, which in turn enables them to sound more knowledgeable and confident when explaining the same to customers. As mentioned, the role of customer service employees is a lot more than queries and responding to phone calls. Product knowledge and dissemination of that knowledge to act as sales personnel, is also an inextricable part of their jobs. A company that makes time and effort to train and develop customer service employees, reduces its cost in a number of realms. By providing top class service, they would help the company to retain the customers, gain repeat business, and possibly get referrals from their existing customers. Thus saving the company costs and effort otherwise required to gain more customers. We know that the longer customers stay, the more profitable and loyal they become – this too reduces the burden on a company to continually acquire new customers and go through the ‘drill’ of getting them to a point of profitability.

We are certain that every company has a number of different reasons due to which they would train and develop customer service employees and their entire staff. Whatever the reasons, it must be remembered that these activities must be ongoing and relentless to build and maintain a highly skilled customer service workforce. This workforce would in turn help the company to succeed by keeping its customers happy and coming back repeatedly with more business. Certainly, an investment worth making!

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