8 Highly Effective Customer Service Training Ideas
When it comes to customer service, the most important thing you need to shine is an excellent team.
However, a great team won’t just happen in a day. That’s why it’s essential to have dedicated training and onboarding for your customer service team.
We’ve put together this article to help you make sure that your customer support staff are all ready for their roles by giving them the training they deserve.
In this article, we’ll discuss the goals of effective customer service training and walk you through eight ways you can set your team up for success.
Why Invest in Customer Service Training?
You may feel like customer service training is just another item on your to-do list (and your list of business costs), but investing in it now will pay dividends in the long run.
Here are just a few of the benefits of customer service training:
More knowledgeable (and productive) agents
Your agents should be able to solve complex problems for customers in a prompt and friendly way. But before they can do that, agents need to have a solid understanding of what your business offers.
That’s where training can be hugely beneficial.
By establishing a process for educating agents about your offerings, you can give them the tools they need to do their job with confidence.
You should also aim to familiarize new agents with your offerings upfront. There are several ways to do this, and one of the most effective—as we’ll explore below—is to provide each agent with access to your products before their first customer interactions.
The more knowledge your agents have, the more efficient and effective they’ll be when helping your customers.
Better customer retention
Your customer service department isn’t just there for backup when something goes wrong. It’s a living, breathing, revenue-generating extension of your business.
That means the quality of service your agents provide can have a real impact on your bottom line.
A poor customer service experience can be detrimental, especially for SaaS companies dependent on recurring revenue. And it doesn’t take much for customers to leave.
In fact, nearly 1 in 5 customers will leave a company after just one bad experience.1
If 20% of customers will leave your business after a single subpar interaction with a customer service agent, it’s easy to see how this could impact your customer retention levels over time.
Effective customer service training will help you retain more customers, and in turn, earn more revenue in the long run.
Increased customer satisfaction
When customers contact you, they’re looking for timely resolutions to their problems. They need someone who can clear up their confusion and provide guidance without wasting any valuable time.
When you fail to meet these baseline expectations, you’ll deliver a poor experience. If your customers aren’t satisfied, they’re less likely to continue doing business with you.
To maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, you should:
- Ensure agents can provide useful and actionable information to every customer.
- Lower your average handling time (AHT), or the length of time it takes to resolve an individual customer interaction.
- Reduce the average time in queue (ATQ), or the amount of time each customer has to wait to receive help.
Notice that speed is an important contributing factor to customer satisfaction. While you should never sacrifice quality, keep in mind that fast responses to customer complaints can leave them happy and willing to spend more money with your company in the future.
Proper customer service training will help you achieve greater efficiency and raise your overall customer satisfaction rates.
Key Goals of Customer Service Training
Before you start customer service training, it’s important to identify what you’re trying to achieve. Establishing key goals prior to developing a training program can help keep you on track and lead to better business outcomes.
While the specifics of these goals will vary based on your KPIs, there are a few general outcomes every customer service training program should aim for.
1. Developing (or improving) communication skills
All of your customer service employees should be able to communicate clearly – conveying and interpreting information with proficiency.
This applies both externally and internally. Whether they’re replying to customer tickets or interacting with fellow employees, good communication is necessary for all agents. It helps them build good relationships with customers and co-workers alike.
This key skill becomes especially important when you consider that customer standards are constantly rising.
A total of 63% of customer service leaders saw a 63% increase in customer expectations. – New CX Mandate Report
If your agents are poor communicators, you’ll quickly fall behind competitors whose agents offer fast, polite, and helpful experiences.
2. Promoting teamwork
Your customer support team is precisely that — a team. To achieve their full potential, they need to work together.
It’s easy for customer service agents to become siloed or feel cut off from the rest of the team, especially if part or all of the team works remotely. But for best results (for your agents and your customers), they should all be working in sync.
Your agents should feel comfortable asking questions of their teammates and sharing knowledge amongst one another.
We’ll explore some ways you can help create a team environment later in this post.
3. Establishing clear and repeatable processes
Your team should be equipped to provide maximum value to each customer at a minimum time frame.
That means effective customer service training should include direction on common, repeatable processes, and internal as well as customer-facing SLAs. This will help improve efficiency and cut down on handling times and wait times.
Without the right processes in place, it’s easy for a customer service team to devolve into chaos. Especially when it comes to inter-team collaboration. You need to define processes and set the timelines for sharing updates and following up to ensure that teams don’t step on each other’s toes while resolving a ticket together. Undefined processes are likely part of the reason why customer service has the highest voluntary turnover of any job function across industries, at a whopping 17%.2
Defining processes and including them in your training will lead to less confusion for these employees, helping to make their jobs less stressful while freeing them up to provide better and faster customer service.
4. Encouraging patience and emotional regulation
It’s no secret that customer service can be a stressful role.
The tone and nature of customer interactions can change drastically from one to the next. But your team needs to be able to handle angry or exasperated responses from customers without losing their cool.
Talk through strategies with your team during training about how to deal with difficult customers.
Agents are all but destined to encounter these challenging interactions at some point, and it’s best for them to be prepared when it happens.
Make sure that every agent has the tools, responses, and processes they need to respond objectively and helpfully every time.
The four recommendations listed above can help your team create stellar experiences for your customers—and each happy customer is one who is more likely to remain loyal to your company.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the top ideas for customer service training.
8 Training Ideas to Build a First-Class Customer Service Team
1. Set up mentor shadowing program
The best way to teach a new hire the ropes is by getting them involved in the day-to-day tasks of a more experienced employee, like a supervisor.
This will not only help them perform their job better, it will also give them a taste of the company’s culture. Plus, it has the added benefit of helping a newbie make friends with other members of the team.
For example, at Freshworks, we have a ”buddy system” in place, in which every new employee is assigned to a “buddy” who is a more experienced employee on their team. This helps facilitate team building and ensures that new employees have a designated person they can go to if they have questions.
2. Encourage new agents to test the product themselves
One of the best ways for your customer service agents to learn more about your products is to use them.
This helps them understand your products more deeply, and they’ll be better prepared to answer questions from customers.
Another added bonus of this training technique is that your team can discover any bugs or issues and suggest improvements.
Allowing your customer service agents to test your products helps tie the human and technical sides of their work together. Get your team members to create a test account on your product and play around with it until they gain a deeper understanding of the way it works. This is a great way for them to improve their knowledge of the product.
3. Provide the right tools that enable on-the-job training
A modern customer service agent should have access to innovative digital tools to help do their job more effectively.
Since customer support now takes place in an omnichannel environment (including phone, email, chat, social media, etc.), agent-facing AI can help agents manage customer requests and maximize their productivity.
Freddy AI helps you optimize the agent experience through an agent-facing chatbot that’s also known as the Assist Bot. It can help agents free up their time by automating simple tasks and providing customers with intelligent self-service support options.
With the Assist Bot, you can create an interactive self-service module for agents. New support agents can go through the preconfigured conversational flows and find out the next course of action.
And the Robo Assist feature enables agents to easily carry out lengthy and repetitive customer support processes with a single click. This way, agents don’t have to spend time learning how to carry out these processes on their own.
The right agent-facing tools can make the life of a new support agent easier while improving the customer experience.
4. Share brand guidelines and scripts
One of the most important elements of great customer service is being able to maintain a positive, forward-thinking attitude. This means agents should address issues with a calm and encouraging demeanor.
Let’s face it, customers don’t like to hear the word “no” to their request, no matter how impossible it might be. So make sure your support team knows what they can say as alternatives to a blunt refusal.
No matter what your agents say in these situations, it’s important that they always acknowledge your customer’s concerns and assure them they’ve been heard.
To ensure that your new recruits are doing this you need to proactively share your brand guidelines. You can also share customer service scripts or talking points that agents can refer to and take the conversation forward in the right direction. These might include statements like:
- “We appreciate your ideas and will look into their feasibility.”
- “While our roadmap doesn’t have that functionality planned, we will keep it in mind for the future.”
- “Thanks for sharing your thoughts. While we can’t incorporate the requested updates at the moment, we greatly value your feedback.”
Clear brand guidelines and scripts that allow agents to show empathy while setting clear expectations with customers.
5. Strength soft skills with communication exercises
Another key to a great customer service experience is to ensure there is proper communication between the agent and customer, as well as within the customer team.
This can be achieved by strengthening soft skills through communication exercises that focus on a few key elements, such as your rep’s tone of voice, the sort of greetings they use, and the first impression they create.
Since a lot of customer support conversations don’t happen face to face, it’s important that your agents’ voice or written replies aren’t mechanical. They need to provide useful information in a personal, humanized way.
Here’s an example of a great customer support response:
When a customer bought a game they just didn’t enjoy, Blizzard games was under no obligation to offer a refund. However, they decided to play fair and help their customer out, resulting in a great experience for their user, as well as Blizzard getting a boost to their reputation. Note the positive tone of the reply, as well as the personal touches, such as using the customer’s name and adding a smiley emoji. The email also clearly states what is happening and all the customer’s queries are answered as well.
Exercises that you can do to improve your communication skills include writing mock emails and getting feedback about them from someone more experienced. Another thing you can consider is to analyze other pieces of content that your company has created to understand the overall tone which your company aims for.
6. Set up role plays with real-life cases
The best way for your team to gain experience is by handling a real customer support situation.
During the training process, consider having your agents review past cases and role-play them. This involves thinking and replying in real time, giving agents the practice they need to handle actual cases on their own.
Afterward, you can meet with them to review performance and offer personalized feedback. This kind of in-depth training can make a significant difference in the quality of your support team’s responses and improve their reaction time.
7. Conduct team-building exercises
As important as it is for your employees to assist customers, it’s equally important for them to have excellent rapport amongst their teammates. A best practice for this is to implement games and exercises which can help agents connect with fellow team members.
Some popular examples include:
- Two truths and a lie: Each team member shares a pair of real facts and one made-up fact about themselves. The rest of the team then has to guess which is which.
- Scavenger hunt: Divide into groups and have teammates work together to find a list of specific items. This can be done in-person or adapted to the digital space.
- Company trivia: A simple trivia game about your company can be a fun, competitive, and educational exercise. It also has the benefit of being fairly easy to set up.
Each of these activities promotes team bonding and can help agents feel comfortable and familiar with one another.
8. Add incentives and team goals as motivation
You can encourage your team to excel during training and beyond by adding incentives.
This can be a great way to promote friendly team spirit and competition, as well as improve the learning process for individual team members.
It can also help with agent retention over time. Nearly 7 in 10 employees across industries said they would be motivated to remain with their employer if they were offered rewards and recognition.3
Tools like Freshdesk’s gamification feature can help incentivize agents to reach KPIs and perform at the highest possible levels — all while adding some fun into the mix and breaking up the monotony of the normal work routine.
A simple-to-use points system enables agents to complete tasks and earn rewards.
Your customer service team is a highly visible part of your company — one that directly impacts your recurring revenue.
A single interaction with a customer service rep can define a customer’s experience and influence their decision to stay or leave. That’s why it’s always in your best interest to ensure the customer service team has the training they need to do their job well.
Do you have any other ideas to share with us? Do let us know!
1 – https://www.pwc.com/us/en/advisory-services/publications/consumer-intelligence-series/pwc-consumer-intelligence-series-customer-experience.pdf#page=8
2 – https://www.imercer.com/articleinsights/North-American-Employee-Turnover-Trends-and-Effects
3 – https://www.achievers.com/press/achievers-survey-finds-without-recognition-expect-employee-attrition-2018/?zd_source=hrt&zd_campaign=5503&zd_term=chiradeepbasumallick