Agent Engagement

6 Tips for Building a Customer Service Training Program

It can pay to invest in building an effective customer service training program for your company. Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than businesses that don’t put their customers first and employees are more likely to be engaged—at rates 1.5x higher than the competition, reports Forbes

In the years to come, prioritizing talent management and coaching will become even more crucial as customer service needs are expected to grow increasingly complex, according to a McKinsey & Company analysis of the future of customer care.

Ultimately, training is key to avoiding customer service agent attrition, which can lead to lower customer satisfaction scores and higher operating costs—with each new agent that needs to be hired and brought up to speed adding up to $20,000 in costs related to lost productivity and training, reports McKinsey & Company.

Whether you’re launching a new program or updating an existing one, here are key best practices to keep in mind.

6 Tips for Building a Customer Service Training Program

1. Keep things relevant and specific

One surefire way to set a customer service training initiative up for failure is to put together a series of generic presentations. One-on-one coaching sessions are a step in the right direction, but listening to a sampling of recorded calls isn’t as helpful as yet another more effective alternative: Contact center micro-coaching

With micro-coaching, supervisors work one on one with individual agents immediately following a specific customer interaction. This type of real-time guidance has been shown to boost team performance by as much as 12%, while the less-than-helpful scenarios described above can actually decrease KPIs by 5%. 

2. Adopt a data-driven approach

Companies that integrate analytics as part of their overall customer service operations see major benefits, including improvements in customer satisfaction and employee engagement and up to a 40% reduction in average handle time, per findings shared in McKinsey’s “Customer First” report. That’s why it’s important for employers to incorporate tracking key customer satisfaction metrics—including CSAT, NPS, and CES (customer satisfaction, net promoter score, and customer effort score)—as part of customer service training programs.

3. Democratize access to real-time customer feedback

The metrics described above aren’t insights that only managers or senior leadership should have access to. To truly be meaningful, every customer service employee needs visibility into these KPIs.

When companies share customer data directly with agents so they improve upon their performance they’re able to optimize overall service delivery. For instance, a national financial services company in Australia uses customer feedback to guide its CX improvements, and it has seen its issue-resolution rate increase by 31%, according to Harvard Business Review. And when retailer Williams-Sonoma partnered with Stella Connect to measure NPS in real-time and leveraged this real-time customer feedback to coach its CX team members, the company saw its NPS increase by 50%. 

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4. Educate CX team members about your company culture and mission

Most—70% of contact center employees who report wanting to stay in their position have a high connection to their company, whereas only 25% of employees who say they are likely to leave shared a strong alignment with their organization, according to a McKinsey Employee Engagement Contact Center Survey. That’s why it’s important to connect employees to your company’s mission and customer-centric culture on a regular basis, with trainings providing a great opportunity to reinforce this messaging.

5. Have a plan for dealing with angry customers

Though we all hope for positive outcomes for both our customer service colleagues and our customers, learning to handle tough situations is part of the job—an important one. That’s why any customer service training program needs to include guidance on how to deal with angry customers.

Training team members to handle these emotional aspects of customer interactions has helped one UK-based mortgage company reduce its repeat calls by 40%, according to HBR.

6. Find creative ways to tie in employee rewards and recognition

Just as any training program needs to offer customer service team members clear guidance and direction, it’s also important to make room for moments of joy. Whether that’s as simple as highlighting customer shoutouts to individual agents in company-wide emails, creating a team leaderboard to rank agent-level customer ratings, planning team-building activities, or offering small bonuses to top performers, these gestures can help improve productivity, profit margins, and both employee and customer retention.

Ready to Launch a New Customer Service Training Program? 

Get our Customer Service Coaching Plan to learn the key differences between coaching and training, how to drive more effective 1:1 sessions with agents, and more.

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