Your company has built a culture committed to creating “fans” from its customers. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a local retailer, you’ve hand-picked the right people to help promote that spirit. That’s only the beginning. Training is essential to taking your best customer service advocates and making them even better – all the time. Only then, will you not only out-deliver against the competition, but your organization will exceed your customer’s expectations.
This article is the third in a series exploring how companies must rethink the entire customer-interaction life cycle. Last time, we reviewed how hiring the right customer service advocates and transforming them into brand champions can make “fans” of both your champions and customers alike. In future installments, we’ll reveal how equipping champions them with the right technology and encouraging leadership at every level of the company are key ingredients to a practice of continuous process improvement.
At C3, 20 years in the customer contact business has not only revealed how the best hiring, technology, and personal empowerment strengthen candidates and engage them more deeply in the process. We’ve discovered – even led the adoption of – top-tier training that keeps your people steps beyond the leading edge, and your competitors.
Try these five steps to adopting training to ensure your place beside your customer on the leading edge of unparalleled customer relations…
- Train for transformation. You’ve hired for feeling. Now, train them to deliver a stellar experience. This goes beyond “pleasant” interactions. The best training methodology exceeds learning a process, approach, or speaking points. It leverages innovative practices that surpass industry standards and reduce time to proficiency and prepares team members to deliver positive experiences.
- Know your current needs. No other customer contact program is exactly like yours. So no “off the shelf” CSR training program can be expected to turn your advocates into champions. Study your people and your current training program – and see how or whether it helps to deliver on your brand promise. Are you lacking in message delivery? Do your people rely on scripts, instead of knowing and “owning” the customer problems? How can training help elevate every experience?
- What’s out there – or in there? Does your current training help you deliver your promise, but lack in certain areas that you’ve never addressed or didn’t even realize was missing until you took a deeper look? Invest the time to create your own training, while dovetailing training programs from the best customer service trainers in the market. Be sure to demand, however, that they don’t throw that off-the-shelf template at your team. Without customization, it’s certain to fall flat, frustrating your advocates and annoying your clients.
- What’s beyond tomorrow? Training for today or tomorrow may keep you attuned to current or near-term needs. But that’s often based on anticipated market conditions. Have you scanned the roadmap to spot what’s coming around the bend? No market research will be 100% accurate. But working with your clients to better understand the evolving market, and preparing your training for what it may present, can help keep surprises to a minimum. Again, your advocates will be better prepared, your clients will appreciate the foresight, and your vision will help curb potential chaos.
- Commit to continuous process improvement. To paraphrase Aristotle, “Effective training is not an act, but a habit.” If your organization is to become an “experience company” dedicated to providing a continuum of stellar customer service experiences, hiring a few good customer advocates and hoping to transform them into champions isn’t enough. It’s called “continuous” for a reason. Training must be recurring, scheduled, updated – and engaging. Your team must want to participate so they’ll absorb and live the messages they’re learning.
Think of high-performing customer service champions like successful baseball players. Just as batters will face thousands of pitches in a batting cage, champions will field scores or even hundreds of simulated calls in mock settings to improve proficiency.
Training is invaluable in improving your team’s skills. In turn, they’ll be more confident and engaging, and help transform your customers into fans.
Sudhir Agarwal is Chief Experience Leader at C3/CustomerContactChannels, a global customer relationship management (CRM) service provider based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and in Singapore. The company operates contact centers on behalf of its Fortune 500 client base in the United States, Latin America and Asia. For more, log onto www.c3connect.com.