Take a look at your customer service team, it’s amazing right? They always work at their highest level of efficiency, react at lightning speed to every customer, and every customer is beyond satisfied. When additional bandwidth is needed, the team steps in and out responsibilities at a moment’s notice, working perfectly, right?
If this doesn’t sound like you or your team right now, you’ll be encouraged to know your team has the power to, and will improve, with the right direction!
Once you learn something, you’re perfect right?
Even experienced team members need training and support throughout their careers, both as individuals and as teams, to develop the skills they need to make the business money, to work effectively, and to find satisfaction in their work.
If you work in a small or medium-sized organization, you may be a recruiter, trainer, manager, and team leader all rolled in one. The tools in this article can help you to build your team and make meaningful contributions to your team. Even in a large organization, you can find yourself in a great position to contribute. You already know how your people work and what support they need to perform better. Work closely with HR or L&D to plan, design, and deliver the right support to the right people at the right time.
In this post, we’ll be looking at how to design an (actionable) employee development plan for your customer service team and explore some practical tips and tools to help you build the best solution for your team. The hardest part of developing a plan for your team can be where to begin?
Start Here: Define the Audience
Far too often I’ve seen organizations try to tailor their content for everyone. What ends up happening….a bland product is produced. Brian Chesky once said “it’s better to have 100 people love you than a million people that sort of like you… if you can’t get 100 people who absolutely love your product, then you do have a problem.” The same applies here. Laser focus your audience to who really needs the support? Take a look at these three audiences
– Everyone in the company
– All of our sales and customer support teams
– The sales team supporting our newest product offering
Are you seeing a trend? Get laser focused on the audience you need to support, not on telling everyone in the organization about the newest feature of your product.
Then: Find the Purpose
Jodi Flynn over at Womentakingthelead.com puts it simply; “You would never dream of building a house without a blueprint, a plan for what it would look like once it was built.” When designing your development plan, clearly define what the audience, that you defined in step one, needs to be able to do!
Take a look at the goals above. Let’s break them down one by one.
We need sales training.
What’s wrong here: We’ve got a goal that’s about as clear as mud. You haven’t told me anything about the customer value proposition (AKA WIIFM). Just because we’re building something for our internal team doesn’t mean they stopped being customers.
Our sales team will know all the new features of our new software.
What’s wrong here: New features don’t solve problems. Asking for feedback and listening to it from customers solves problems. Remember, it’s your job to make customers happy, not move more product. Refer to Lovability for more.
70% of our salespeople will complete the sales training course by next quarter.
What’s wrong here: Hot take here: No one cares how many people have taken the course. Completion doesn’t equal performance. Have you moved the needle towards the goal?
Our inbound calls will increase 3% by the end of the quarter as we host more webinars.
What’s right here: We’ve clearly identified an outcome we measure in the business already with an action we’ll be designing performance support for. Can’t stress this enough.
After: Bridge the Gap and Measure Success
Can you succinctly answer the question “What is holding your audience back?” What have we tried before to address the gap? How does it tie back to the business? Has it worked?
Some common responses to “Why aren’t people doing it now?”
– Is it a brand new process or product?
Response: If it’s new then of course we need to communicate what’s new.
– Are there environmental or culture barriers?
Response: Often times when instituting change (which is what performance support is, instituting new behavior or changing old behavior)- there is resistance. Watch this video on Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model for details.
– Past attempts at change haven’t been successful.
Response: Enlist the help of leadership. Going at it alone, or without clear goals set from leadership is destined for failure. Make sure your leadership is invested in the growth of the team. Make a business case for the proposed content.
Identify Roadblocks and Find Creative Ways to Fix Them
When you’ve identified the roadblocks, figure out creative ways to overcome. When creating these solutions, we’ve found it effective to keep the following in mind
– Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Use established measurements for success. How are you measuring success already? How about your competitors? Google is your friend here.
– It needs to be S.M.A.R.T. Entrepeneur.com goes in depth about S.M.A.R.T. goals. Bottom line, your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Write them down.
– Don’t forget about the audience! Ask the people who are going to use the content how they best consume it. Ask your consumers, and use that information! Don’t make a mobile first AR e-learning module just because you saw a great advertisement on LinkedIn, do it because your audience is in the field all the time and needs Just in Time support while working on a customer site.
Answer this: how does mobile first support your sales team that accesses most of the content via a desktop based computer? Now your people are subjected to boring content because you spent a ton of budget on AR tools and consultants!
If I could leave you with one thing, it’s this — Partner with your marketing team. Just because your team works for you, doesn’t mean they stopped being customers. Look at thought leaders like Bianca Baumann and Lynne McNamee for more on the intersection between marketing, learning, and employee development.
Check out this list of tools to help inspire you and build out your plan.
– Strategic Planning Tool: PLExD’s Performance Problem Canvas
– The PLExD Recommended Tool Kit for almost any business case
– New Employee Onboarding Trello
– When Designing Content by JR Burch
– 7 Emotional Phases of Change