For smaller businesses, going the extra mile for customers is something that doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, company’s that offer a far greater customer experience tend to do well, get repeat custom and rave reviews to encourage new customers too. This month’s topic may seem like a simple question, but maintaining customer service training is crucial to ongoing success, especially for retailers in the furniture industry.
Before we get into some tips to top up training methods and their importance, let’s answer the question as briefly as possible. So, why is regular customer service training important? In the minds of a shopper, the lasting impact they will receive is by how they were treated, communicated with and listened to when engaging with your company. When meeting these requirements, and even excelling, it can resonate with customers for years to come, spreading positive reviews and a strong reputation that shows your business cares.
For those businesses that already offer an outstanding customer service, I take my hat off to you and encourage this continues. For those that need to invest in a customer service training programme, here’s some key points to consider.
To have an effective customer service training programme, you must be able to identify your customers needs. This can be in the form of getting customers to complete feedback on their experiences, while also asking and listening to customers when serving in the moment. Being a good listener is key to this, aiming to solve their problem with knowledgebase responses and solutions. This brings us to the next part of this section, as staff need to know your company and product or service offering better than anyone. Dedicated product training is key so when a customer comes in with a problem, you already have the answer. Regular refreshers on products are a big benefit too.
Watch your team
With refreshers in mind, it’s crucial to watch your staff at work. Are they delivering what you expect of them? What is their approach, body language like? Do they provide solutions? Regular evaluation of staff interacting with customers is key. It also provides a platform for staff to air their views on certain topics too, which should be encouraged. Study your employees and identify which have the best skill sets for a particular customer service need, such as establishing a rapport and up-selling. Conduct regular meetings allowing, each employee to showcase and explain how they carry out their particular skill set.
Dedicated training time
Making sure you allocate enough training time is pivotal for ongoing success and implementation. Customer service training can be typically once a quarter or two times a year, depending on what best suits your company. This could be a routine performance review with staff and the team collectively, as well as brainstorming ways to further improve from feedback, or team building sessions and workshops to get more hands on with customer service roleplays. This helps build team relationships, strengthen any potential weak areas and provide new ways of better working. Why not source a customer service expert to come in and share their experiences?
Types of customer service platforms
While having a clear customer service training strategy, you must take into consideration different areas of the business that may require an adaptation or slight adjustment. For example, dealing with customers in person will require a different skill set to dealing with a customer over the phone or email or even social media. Making sure you have procedures in place to guide staff is essential, but this is where regular evaluation of staff comes in too. You may notice someone is excelling at in person interaction but struggles to reply to customers over social media or email. Why not assign a mentor to help share and spread the knowledge of others across the team. Not only will this strengthen relationships, but also keep everyone involved in every aspect.
It is essential that staff are given crisis management training as you never know what may come up. Implementing a strategy to help deal with angry customers and to provide solutions is much better than ignoring the problem or standing there like a dear in the headlights. Roleplays on both in person and phone call interactions are a good start here. Revisit previous problems and try to solve them better. Or create potential scenarios that your business is likely to encounter. Finally, teach the LAST method. LAST stands for Listen, Acknowledge, Solve, and Thank. Staff who can do all of these things when problems arise, will have a better chance of defusing a difficult customer. Teach your team to pause, listen to, and acknowledge upset customers, and then, if possible, try and find a solution.
A small business will usually consist of a great team of individuals. As a reminder, when looking to employee new staff, make sure you take customer service skills into consideration. Four key areas include emotional intelligence, good communication, resourcefulness and passionate. Being able to patiently listen, decipher someone else’s problem, and empathise is at the heart of customer service. Responding in the right way by communicating passionately, being knowledgeable and providing solutions goes a long way, something a customer will not forget.
How important is regular customer service training for your business?