Customer service training is one of the smartest investments a company can make…
Ever talked to a phone representative who was anything but helpful? Or asked a retail employee for help only to feel like you are inconveniencing them? As the old saying goes, good help is hard to find.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper training, companies can make sure their employees provide service with a smile—and make customers smile in return.
Customer Service as a Key Value
Consider customer service as an ongoing process, not just a one-time training, similar to the approach used by Quicken Loans. “Quicken Loans’ culture is built on core values that every team member is encouraged to conduct themselves by every day. One key value is serving ‘every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses,’” says the Quicken Loans Training team. “Our Assurance team, which more than doubled in size in 2012, ensures team members have the skills needed to uphold this by providing ongoing coaching and positive enforcement when team members are speaking with clients. The key to training top bankers is reinforcing their skills and letting them know we care by not only highlighting the things they do RIGHT, but providing constructive criticism when they fall short on delivering excellent client service.”
The company also uses client feedback to provide insight into areas where they can improve. “Any time we receive feedback from one of our clients, we analyze the type of comments we receive for trends that then can be solved,” the Training team notes.
How to Measure Successful Service
To gain a client-based perspective, U.S. Security Associates, Inc. utilizes detailed customer feedback surveys that specifically address levels of customer service satisfaction. “To increase our overall performance, we must be able to identify the improvement opportunities available, as well as the successes we have achieved,” says Jonathan Jones, manager of organizational development. “Measurement is foundational to our goal setting and organizational accomplishment. The primary metrics the company correlates with customer service training include client retention, additional service requests by current clients, and client referrals.
“We also conduct client meetings on a weekly basis,” says Jones. “The client meetings and evaluation process are designed to measure how well our customer service and performance is meeting our clients’ ever-changing needs.”
Committing to Superior Customer Service
Treating customer service as an essential commitment is another way to increase the satisfaction of your customers. At Vi, an operator of continuing care retirement communities and home health care, all new employees receive a service commitment handbook and training is reinforced during the orientation period through classroom learning, online courses, and custom videos. In addition, Vi provides annual customer service training to all employees and offers service refresher training on professional telephone skills, managing difficult conversations, maximizing resident engagement, and resolving resident issues and concerns.
James Edwartoski, executive director, Vi at Aventura, points to the company’s customer service recognition program, which he says was a direct outcome from Vi’s 2010 employee satisfaction survey. “Employees have received this program with enthusiasm, and they feel they have a much more direct impact on how employees are recognized for customer service,” he notes.
Multifaceted Customer Service Solutions
The Rollins Corporation provides its subsidiary, Orkin, with training curricula in which customer service training is not just a stand-alone topic, but is part of the fabric of almost all field training programs. “One of the most successful customer service training programs in 2012 was the Orkin Promise, which was required training for all service employees,” says Training Director Craig Goodwin. “The Orkin Promise was a blended solution consisting of a 20-minute video-on-demand, featuring Orkin’s president and a fully scripted manager-led lesson, allowing the location manager to provide the corporate message while localizing content to meet specific service protocols.”
The Orkin Promise focuses on four areas of customer service that customers said have the greatest impact on their satisfaction and loyalty:
- Showing respect
- Accepting responsibility
- Delivering effective service
- Communicating effectively
Jiffy Lube International uses a similarly multifaceted approach to train employees in the art of customer service. “We incorporate customer service into every training course. We try to emphasize the customer, not the vehicle. Changing the focus has helped us change the culture at JL,” says Manager of Training and Development Kenneth Barber. “Jiffy Lube conducts thousands of mystery shops and customer phone surveys every month. The data is collected and tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually.
How to Start
If you want a stronger focus on customer service, start with these tips:
- Measure your employees’ level of customer service via customer feedback on surveys, through email or with forms.
- Use the expertise of successful customer service-oriented employees, encouraging them to mentor co-workers.
- Make customer service a key part of your new hire training, asking all employees to make a commitment to providing a high level of service. Consider creating a form they have to read and sign stating their promise to exceed customer expectations as part of their employment requirements.