Want a great way to tank your customer satisfaction? Ignore your customer service team. Customer expectations have never been higher, and they want answers faster, on the channel of their choice. Your team is made up of people with varying degrees of knowledge and experience—someone who’s new could unknowingly say the wrong thing and end up making an irate customer even more upset. A veteran employee trying to navigate a new CRM software on the fly won’t have much chance of success, either. If your staff are unhappy, that’ll start to show up in their performance.
You know how hard it is to make time for a training program when you’re trying to keep up with customer demands, but it’s critical to your company’s health. Here are the key benefits and techniques of customer service training.
Top benefits of customer service training
When everyone’s working at full speed to make numbers, it can seem impossible to take time out for training. But when companies invest in their customer support staff, it can really pay off.
1. Leading teams are going omnichannel
High performing customer service teams are more than twice as likely to be taking an omnichannel approach, according to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020. They choose among traditional support channels like phone and email while adding emerging channels like proprietary in-app messaging, Facebook Messenger, social media, and SMS.
2. Higher job satisfaction = higher customer satisfaction
Great teams put both time and money into their agents, in terms of offering the right tools and training. And when you invest in their careers, your staff is more likely to feel satisfaction in their jobs. Because seasoned agents can provide better service, their CSAT scores rated higher for each year they stick around on the same customer service team. “I'm always laying the seeds for future efficiency, whether that’s writing documentation or pulling people off the floor for training,” says Jonathan Brummel, senior manager of premier support engineering at Zendesk. “I think if you skip the training component, you compromise your agent engagement, because they're going to get bored or burnt out.”
3. Most companies aren’t living up to customer expectations
The fact is, most CX teams aren’t offering channels beyond phone and email. But today’s customers—especially Millennials and Gen Z—say they like contacting customer service over the channels they already use to talk to friends and family. What’s more, they aren’t planning to add those channels anytime soon. And because customers who have poor experiences often use social media to voice their complaints, companies are missing opportunities to set things right in a big way.
4. In-depth product knowledge
This one might seem obvious—your team needs to know your products inside and out to provide a great customer experience. They won’t have time to go hunting for answers when they’re on the phone with an angry customer. Beyond that, training helps your team speed up resolution times and provide personalized service.
5. Builds customer loyalty
As competition heats up, one thing is for sure: customer loyalty can help drive the success of a business. According to the Zendesk Brand Loyalty Survey, 40% of customers say a company can earn their loyalty when it exceeds their expectations in resolving an issue. Not only that, but 72% of people say they value customer service over price. Great customer service can give your company a competitive advantage, more loyal customers, and better customer retention rates.
Customer service training tips
Here are some best practices for implementing a successful training program to keep up with the trends and help your team develop vital communication skills.
6. Teach social media support
Train your staff how to respond (or how not to respond) in live channels like social media. Because customers turn to social media for a speedy response, the skills required to provide great customer service on this channel are usually a little more advanced.
7. Use your knowledge base
63% of customers say they almost always start with a search on the company’s website when they have an issue. Your knowledge base can be a powerful tool for helping your new staffers get up to speed.
8. Leverage your top staff
Give your more seasoned agents the opportunity to train the newer hires. Consider setting up time for them to work together for a hands-on learning opportunity, or set up a more robust program for group teaching. Of course, you’d need to budget time for your seasoned reps to develop and deliver that training, too.
9. Make it a performance goal
Once you have a training program, bake it into your team’s success metrics. By creating professional goals for training, you’re also setting the expectation that it actually happens.
Customer service skills all agents should know
You know customer service is much more than answering emails. It takes the ability to “read” a customer’s emotional cues, manage a flood of help tickets, and keep cool when things get heated. Here are some of the top things to look for in your customer service representatives:
10. Emotional intelligence
This is the ability to recognize our own emotions and those of others, and to use that emotional information to guide our behaviors. Can they demonstrate empathy under pressure with angry customers? There are some skills associated with phone support, like friendliness, that cross all channels. This is an opportunity to engage an expert instructor for your team.
11. Active listening
When customers are frustrated, they might not be able to hear what you have to say (even if it’s the right solution). Listen to them first and help them calm down before jumping in to solve their problems. The ability to show empathy is vital in customer service.
12. Digital tone
It’s hard to convey tone in text, email and social media--especially since the responses are often quick, which can come across as terse. A good guideline is to be kind and informative. It can take practice to get this right, but patience is a critical communication skill when it comes to customer support.
The reason to invest in your customer service team is clear: if you want happy customers, you need happy employees. When you value your team and work to grow their skills, their job satisfaction goes up—and that comes across in how well they can serve your customers.