Customer experience is now winning the leadership race to become the main business differentiator. Hence, the need to create a strong customer service team which will enable the delivery of great customer experience. The need is becoming more acute and palpable.
According to Gartner, by 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations. Undoubtedly, some of them will be directed to improving the customer service agent training. After all, 78% of consumers agree that competent customer service reps are most responsible for happy customer experience.
Good training not only boosts productivity, but ensures a higher quality of customer service, which leads to more satisfied customers, increased customer loyalty, and happier employees as well. The benefits are innumerable.
After you hired a new customer service rep, where do you start off with the training? What aspects do you cover in your training which can help a newcomer to become a real professional and strongly integrate into your customer support team and your company on the whole?
Below a few key steps of the customer service agent training that I find the most important. They are pretty simple and basic, but they allow to create a good foundation, which will enable further progress, make the representatives feel confident during interactions with customers and inspire them to seek constant self-improvement throughout their employment.
- Provide new agents with an overview of your company structure, major departments that exist within the company, explain what each of them is responsible for and introduce to team members.
- Orient new reps to the company culture, give an overview of your objectives on the whole and objective you want to achieve when it comes to customer service in particular.
- Explain to agents what your target market is and give information on what your customer base is, portrait your typical customer.
- Provide agents with information on your company policy, procedures and work ethic guidelines.
- Give an overview of the agent’s responsibilities, outline what customer issues they need to be able to resolve on their own, what issues may require escalation.
- Specify to the agents if and when throughout the customer journey they can step in and help the customer by doing something on their behalf, logging into the client’s environment etc., and when they are authorized to only give advice and instructions to the client on how to solve a certain issue.
- Inform agents of best practices on how to approach different customer service issues. Introduce them to different customer types and explain how to deal with each one of them.
- Give a separate training on how to handle difficult, angry or irate customers. They particularly take a very responsible approach, as ineffective handling of dissatisfied customers may cost the company a lot.
- Teach agents how to use the knowledge base effectively.
- Offer the agents detailed training manuals, any audio or video tutorials you may have, get them familiar with frequently asked questions.
- Provide training on the software tools that your company uses to manage support as well as other business areas. Give them tasks to perform using the tools so that they can have a hands-in experience with it.
- Teach your agents basic troubleshooting skills so that they can know proper questions to ask the customer to have a clear understanding of the problem before they start giving solutions.
- Train agents on proper customer service etiquette.
- Monitor agents throughout training and provide feedback. However, do not point out bluntly that they are doing something wrong. Always explain why and how something needs to be done in a different way. Once they understand, they will naturally remember and will not need as much supervision in the future.
- Selectively monitor agents’ interactions with clients and also provide feedback. Share tips with them how they can be more effective in different situations.
- Team new agents up with more experiences reps who will be able to help them in difficult situations in their first months of working with customers.
- Continue revisiting training throughout the agent’s tenure. Update them on the changes that happen in the company, changes within the software tools, new guidelines for dealing with certain customer issues etc. There is always something new to learn and a way to improve the current procedures.
Never stopping training, no matter how long an agent is working in your company, is the key to success in creating a strong customer service team. Invest sufficient time and resources in training and you will be surprised by the long-lasting results that it creates and the ripples that spread around in the form of your customers’ feedback and satisfaction with your service.
What would you add to this customer service training checklist? Are there other guidelines that you are following to train new agents? Please share with us in the comments.