The relationship between customer and representative can be a beautiful thing.
Just as a baseball team goes through spring training before the season starts, a customer service team needs to be trained on communication, problem-solving, and patience before they start interacting with customers.
The truth is that bad customer service can tank your business. But great customer service has the ability to turn casual customers into life-long brand evangelists. To be able to deliver a great customer experience, reps hone their knowledge of the product or service they sell and are trained on how to analyze and answer customer questions.
What is customer service training?
Customer service training is the process of onboarding and training customer service employees to help them interact with customers more effectively and increase overall customer satisfaction.
Training isn’t a one and done situation. Employees will arguably never really complete their training. Continued refocusing and improvement are necessary for every customer service representative to deliver assistance that will delight the buyer.
Read along as we talk about the importance of training customer service reps and the skills needed to excel in various customer service jobs.
According to a study by Vonage, 89% of consumers switched businesses due to negative customer service and 34% of them shared their negative experiences online for other consumers to see.
That says it all.
Statistics never lie. People love effective and quick customer service experiences, but they’ll remember the bad ones. The effort your team puts in to help your customers is worth the work to see positive reviews online. Word of mouth marketing is more relevant than ever. People talk about brands they love and how they went above and beyond to help them. The foundation of your business should be a strong customer service team, and that begins with training.
The process of training your customer service team should be a high priority. Because consumers have the ability to share their experiences online, it’s crucial to focus on providing your agents with the appropriate tools and skills they’ll need to do the job well. The customer’s happiness is the most important part of the relationship between them and the rep.
We know that training customer service agents properly so they can increase customer satisfaction is the basis of a successful company. Let’s talk about skills.
The customer service skills that matter
To deliver great service, you first need a team, and this team needs to possess a few key skills. Keep in mind that most of these customer service skills can be continually practiced throughout the duration of the job while some are required from the very beginning of employment.
Great communication skills
If it isn’t obvious already, communication is key when it comes to customer service. Reps shouldn’t only have excellent communication skills, they should work to improve them as their career develops. Communication skills are important for obvious reasons, but one that is often overlooked is how great communication can increase overall productivity within the customer support team.
This is a skill that can be trained but ultimately, people either have it or they don’t. A great way to test communication skills is to have the rep explain how a product works and what to do if an issue arises. How well the rep can break it down for you is be a good indication of whether they can explain it to the customer as well.
Extensive knowledge of the company’s product or service
This is a skill that will have to be taught to all reps. The better the customer service rep is educated on the product or service they are either selling or answering questions about, the better assistance they can give.
As products change and new ones roll out, all reps need to be trained on these developments. The best way to provide them with all relevant information is to hold a product training session for the entire team where the customer service philosophy is aligned with the product or service. Have them ask questions, interact with the product or service in person, and take exercise calls so that they’re able to practice answering customer questions before they talk to them for real.
Strong people skills
This is a no-brainer.
Although automated customer service is on the rise, people still like having the option to talk to a real human. Customer service reps that possess strong people skills will be able to keep a conversation friendly and on track, all the while keeping the customer happy. And hey! Happy customers are more likely to return and buy again.
While reps sleep, live chat software takes care of customer issues during off-hours. You can provide your customers with extra support and be able to answer their questions, even if they come in at 2 AM. Check out the top live chat tools here:
Previous experience with customer service
Although it’s not entirely necessary, hiring employees with previous experience in customer service or customer support can give you a leg up on both the hiring and training processes. While it’s a given that you’ll train your reps on the details of your product or service, hiring reps with existing knowledge of how to speak with customers can be life-saving.
The top 5 customer service training tips
Every business has a set of rules they abide by when training their customer service team. We’ve compiled a list of the top five tips to remember while you onboard and train your reps.
1. Even if they’re not, the customer is always right
It doesn’t matter if the customer has their information mixed up, always siding with them and going above and beyond to put their mind at ease will incite the best outcome for both parties. People don’t want to call your customer service line and be lectured on how they’re wrong. Granted, they may be completely wrong, but finding the quickest solution to their problem will prove how helpful your service is and hopefully, leave them with a positive feeling.
2. Always retain your professionalism
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous. Professionalism while dealing with disgruntled customers keeps their anger at bay while you work to fix the issue. It may be easy to become condescending or dismissive when a hot-headed customer contacts you, but turning to cold communication won’t solve the issue. Keep calm, smile, and wow them with great customer service. If anything, they’ll remember how helpful you were while they remained angry. Impressions are everything.
Keep caring at the forefront of the customer service team’s mind. Anyone going into customer service should already possess a genuine desire to help people going into the job. When reps build meaningful relationships with customers, overall customer satisfaction is sure to increase. People love when people remember them. Adding a personal touch to their buying experience may not have immediate results, but as time passes, your business will be known for intimate and personalized customer care.
4. Answer every call
Customers can’t get the answers they need if their call is sent to voicemail. Don’t make them wait for extended periods of time. Set a company policy that all responses to customer inquiries are sent within 24 to 48 hours. Missing calls or letting an email sit in your inbox for days is only going to frustrate your customers.
Invest in help desk software to provide your customers with the information and support they need while your reps are busy or away. Check out the top tools here:
5. Go the extra mile
While a good customer service employee will be knowledgeable of everything that concerns their own area of expertise, a great employee will be motivated to learn about adjacent departments. When you push your reps to do this, they can assist the customer further than they’re expected to. Push them to dazzle the customer every time.
Train to delight
Training your customer service team appropriately from the start gives you an advantage when more customers eventually come. Teaching these skills is beneficial to any business or industry and ensuring that your reps possess most if not all of them is essential. Training the customer service team with the goal to delight all customers will instill the motivation to provide great service in them from the get-go.
Alexa is a former Content Marketing Associate at G2. Born and raised in Chicago, she went to Columbia College Chicago and entered the world of all things event marketing and social media. In her free time, she likes being outside with her dog, creating playlists, and dabbling in Illustrator. (she/her/hers)