As a training professional for nearly 30 years, I’ve gotten many requests to prepare curricula that address improving customer service. Reducing effort for customers involves changing a customer representative’s mindset, whether they are answering the phone, meeting in person, writing an email or using your website to locate answers to their questions. Your company’s strategy for handling customers needs to be clearly defined. Then, you can communicate your standards of business conduct in a clear, concise manner.
Service standards help set expectations. For example, mandate that customer service representatives respond to phone calls, email messages and texts within 24 hours. Ensure coverage is always available to answer the phone or respond to emails. Customer service representatives should always introduce themselves as an employee of your company and state how they can be reached for a return call. At the end of any calls, they should always inquire if there is anything else they can do for the customer. When customer service representatives listen, empathize, ask open-ended questions, review responses and navigate through a troubleshooting scenario to reach a solution, customers respond well. If the customer service representative states what he can do, an alternative or offers other advice, the customer feels like she’s in control. Responding negatively, makes life more difficult.
To improve customer loyalty, teach customer service representatives to handle problems efficiently. By minimizing the number of repeat interactions, generic answers, need for repeating information, transfers to other agents and other disruptions, you can improve customer service and build an organization that provides the best service in your industry.
Start by tracking customer effort, not customer satisfaction. Before you implement any training programs, interview customer service representatives and customers to ascertain the current state. You may find that your customer service representatives don’t review online information and don’t work as a team with other member’s of your company. In that case, conduct training sessions that integrate your functions so customers don’t have to figure out who to contact to resolve matters. By finding out how the customer is feeling at the beginning of the conversation, the customer service representative can more accurately guide the conversation. Conduct role-playing exercises based on real scenarios that help customer service representatives get to the point quickly, but doesn’t prevent them from noticing other issues at the same time. Making it a practice to proactively contact customers when there aren’t problems can help foster a positive working relationship. Use past experiences to forge future healthy interactions. Additionally, teach customer service representatives to handle not just the current problem, but anticipate other issues, as well. This may even allow a representative to guide the customer to buying new services that ultimately address long-term benefits that reduce their time dealing with support issues. Training should prepare participants to take action and create a climate that reduces bottlenecks for customer resolution.