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5 Customer Service Training Mistakes We All Make


One basic fact in developing great customer service is that it doesn’t just happen naturally, it requires customer service training. Customer service training needs to be effective and ongoing so that it can develop the skills required for great customer service. Great customer service isn’t a talent, it’s a skill acquired through practice in customer service training and with principles in place that allow people to provide excellent customer service.

The skills of great customer service is acquired through customer service training performed by individuals with the right mentality, the right attitude, and who carefully practice the right behaviors, mannerisms, terms, and actions that are specific to great customer service. 

One challenge is figuring out if we’re being effective in our customer service training program. Are we getting the most from the trainings? Are we being effective in correctly teaching the principles of great service? Unfortunately, there are 5 customer service training mistakes we all make. These mistakes lead us to poor or mediocre training programs.

The fact is that there is an abundance of poor-to-mediocre customer service training out there that companies opt for because it can save many thousands of dollars in the initial investment.  The problem is, of course, is that the money they do spend ends up going out the window.  It’s like throwing a glass of water against a forest-fire.

-Shaun Belding, Belding Skills Training Group

Shaun Belding, head of the Belding Skills Training Group has written about how to select the right training program and I want to discuss the 5 customer service training mistakes we all make.

1. Do-it-yourself Customer Service Training

Sure, anything you do yourself will have a cheaper price-tag, but unless you’re a certified instructional designer with a great deal of expertise in customer service training, it is unlikely your program will make a significant difference to your business.

Reach out to customer service training companies and plan on involving them in a yearly seminar for your organizations. Reach out to individual customer service industry thought leaders and ask them for advice and input on your situation. The outside perspective is extremely valuable at helping you see where you really are and where you can improve.

2. Self-directed Customer Service Training

If you’re reading “customer service for dummies” books, then you’re probably not ready to train an entire organization on customer service. Great customer service is a skill, not a recipe. Customer service training needs to be implemented not by supervisors, but by service leaders. Service leaders need to be the ones who live and breath the right behaviors, mannerisms, terms, and actions that make up great service.

There are tons of self-directed customer service training programs out there - workbooks, videos, web-based programs - but they rely heavily on the participants already being engaged and excited about the process.  At best, only about 20% of participants will retain anything of value (Having said this, self-directed customer service training programs can have great value as part of an overall, integrated customer service training).

3. Off-the-shelf Customer Service Training

Service is culture. It requires conversion, not worksheets. Too many times, generic customer service training programs aren’t effective at converting individuals to the service culture. Generic training programs oftentimes miss out on helping individuals specifically apply the service principles to their day-to-day work.

Standard, generic customer service training programs that rely on participants making the leap from general theory to application in your industry are only marginally effective, and are often painful to sit through.

4. Generic Customer Service Training

Some organizations try to lump customer service training programs with trainings for other areas of business. Customer service is a skill (Wow, déjà vu anyone?). It takes time, correct principles, and practice, practice, practice.

If you’re training Excel Spreadsheets 101 one day, and Customer Service 101 the next, it’ll be a long time before your people really master the art of great customer service.  There is no way they can possibly be as effective as customer service training coming from a company that lives, eats and breaths customer service.

5. One-dimensional Customer Service Training

Great customer service isn’t something that’s just talked about in a classroom, or in a weekly or monthly meeting. It needs to be talked about, lived, and practiced each day. For a customer service training program to be effective, you’ll need components in place to support it and transfer the learning into new behaviors in a live environment.

This should include corresponding management training, follow-up session, individual coaching, review of practice, etc.  Your training should also be supported with a performance measurement program, coaching and a reward and recognition program.

Effective training should have a significant and measurable effect in the workplace, and ultimately with your customers.  Effective customer service training programs will change your workplace environment. It creates a sense of excitement among your employees. People want to do good. People want to feel good. Great customer service gives us the opportunity to do good and help customers feel good. But only if we effectively train them how to do it.

As we correctly implement the right principles and help people effectively practice the skills in our correct customer service training setting, we’ll be on our way to develop great customer service culture that creates exceptional customer experiences.

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