The Four Essentials of Excellent Customer Service Training

As I was creating a customer service training program, I was reminded of an interaction that I recently had with a customer relations person and decided to reflect on the learning.

The Four Essentials of Excellent Customer Service Training I walked into a Microsoft flagship store, to check out the new  Lumia 950. As I entered the store, it felt as if I was at the right place to make the decision. I looked out for somebody to help me in the decision. After waiting for a minute, I saw a lady emerging from the other end of the store. Upon noticing me she bellowed out, “What do you want?” Without waiting for me to answer, she went to the end of the store and sat on a stool behind a counter. Since she was not expressing any desire to help me, I walked around and looked at the products on display. As I did not see Lumia 950, I asked the lady if she had a demo handset for Lumia 950. “No sir, we don’t.” pat came the reply.  I asked her, if the handset was in stock. “Sir, if we don’t have the dummy with us, how do you expect us to have the handset in stock. For every handset that we have in stock, we have the demos available as well.” she said, as if, it was something every customer should have known. Undeterred by her attitude, I enquired when they would get fresh stock. “There is a possibility, that we might get it tomorrow. You can come in and check.” was the reply to my question.

Being a soft skills trainer who conducts a plethora of programs on enhancing customer service, I took some time to ponder about why this transaction left me so angry and frustrated. Reactively I had even decided that I was not going to another Microsoft phone.

As I replayed in my mind the kind of customer focus interaction that would have left me desiring to wait to buy the Lumia 950 from the same store, the below listed ways to improve customer satisfaction surfaced:

  1. Empathy:
    • I would have liked the customer service rep to walk up to me and express interest in what I was looking for.
    • I would have liked the rep to apologize for the lack of availability of the product I was looking for.
  2. Managing Customer Expectations
    • I would have liked the rep to understand what I was looking for and suggest alternatives, as Lumia 950 was not available.
    • I would have liked the rep to tell me that she will call me back once the product was available.
  3. Going that extra mile
    • I think the rep should have taken my number and volunteered to call me as soon as the product arrived.
    • I think the rep should have found out if the product was available at their other locations.
  4. Listening
    • I would have expected her understood my expectations and suggested alternatives.
    • I would have expected her to confirm her understanding of what I shared.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Customer service is all about managing customer expectations and relationship building. My experience helped to drive this central theme in the Customer Service Training program and the participants experienced tangible benefits in their interactions.

The Art of Giving Knock-Out Sales Presentations

All the hard work has finally paid off – You did your market research, analyzed the economy, zeroed in on the target audience and did your homework on the customer. They took the bait and now you’re sitting in their conference room, ready to give your pitch. If there is ever a time to pull out your best sales strategies, it is now! There is just one problem – your customer has probably heard at least ten other sales pitches that day, so why should you think he would remember yours?

Turns out that there are simple tricks that can be employed to make your pitch stand out. Lets look at just three that will do the trick:

Develop Rapport

This is the most potent requirement of sales training and customer service training. Remember that part about ‘doing your homework on the customer’? Well this is the time to showcase what you’ve learnt about them. Asking questions about the company, their portfolio of products and services will show the customer that you’re interested enough in them to have actually looked them up and done some research. Comments and conversations on similar and related topics that are relative to their company and business also creates plenty of common ground upon which to develop equity or rapport.’Five Strategies for a Winning Sales Presentation’  is an article to help you effectively clinch the deal.

Asking Leading Questions

This line of questioning is quite different from the earlier questions about the company itself. While those were posed to establish common ground, this line of questioning is more to ‘fish’ for information – on your customer’s interests, needs, likes and dislikes. While this gives you insight into the customer’s head, it is also setting up a foundation for you to build your sales pitch on and possibly answer or provide for everything your customer expressed a desire or need.

Eliminate Objections

While it may be normal to feel that the customer is not interested in yet another sales pitch, the reality of the matter is that he actually has some reservations or ‘practical hurdles’ in his head that he thinks you probably are not going to be able to address. Getting to the root of this is crucial to pushing them over the edge from a merely introspective mood to a generally interested mood. Listening carefully to the concerns can pave the way for cutting right to the issue and asking questions like, “Is it the shipping costs that you’re concerned about?” or “Are you anxious about the profit margins for the service?”. Doing this helps to put your finger directly on the pulse of the customer’s needs and better equipping you to be able to help them. This tactic is fundamental to sales coaching.

For more information on Sales Training Programs, please refer to the following articles/blogs:

Tips to Enhance Retail Selling Skills 

Selling Skills – Achieving Excellence through Training

Giving Your Presentations The X Factor










Etiquette is a Major Focus of Corporate Training

With the marketplace becoming global, business cannot be done effectively and seamlessly without an awareness of the cultures of your customers. Also, since a lot of transactions are conducted on the phone, telephone etiquette training is often requested in corporate training.

India has achieved its stardom through the out sourcing of customer service centers which provided technical support for its customers from all over the globe. Telephone and email were the contact channels to the customers. Hence Telephone Etiquette was very critical in providing excellent customer service. So telephone etiquette training became an important part of the corporate training programs.

Emotions ran high on these calls as expensive equipment is giving trouble. Also, the comprehension between the two parties was greatly impeded by the challenges in communication. The customer service representative often had to deal with anger and sarcasm but the core learning that we hope to imbibe is, “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” – Eric Hoffer (1902 – 1983)

Our training taught the representatives numerous techniques to stay calm and ask the right questions – Open-ended questions that help to gather the information needed to troubleshoot and close-ended questions that allow you to get key information from the client. Active listening is advocated when the client is engaged and giving information without resistance and reflective listening when a client is angry, irate, uncooperative and condescending. Our mantra is, “One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.” – Josh Billings (1818 – 1885). We believe that the ability of the representative to maintain his/her composure is the ticket to an effective call. All the tools, techniques and methodologies that help us to attain this end is focused on in the training.

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” – Mark Twain

Mark Twain could not have put the benefits of corporate training more aptly. It is life changing and rejuvenating for both the business and the employees when the learning from the training is implemented in everyday life.

Empathy – A Necessary Leadership Trait

Why is Empathy such a critical part of Leadership Training and Customer Service Training? We are often asked this question by HR professionals who are giving us the training needs of the organization. Here is adequate proof that conclusively answers the question:

I heard a story yesterday that I wanted to share with the world. A group of salesmen were returning home after finalizing a multi-million dollar deal. The negotiations took longer than expected and they reached the airport without much time to spare. They grabbed their luggage and raced through the doors of the airport. In the rush, one of them caught the edge of an apple cart spilling the apples all over the sidewalk. However, even a moment’s delay would have caused them to miss the flight. They all continued without turning back.

The team heaved a sigh of relief when they got their boarding card and entered the flight. They were the last ones to enter and the air hostess moved to close the door. At that point one of them said, “Here is my wife’s number. Please inform her that I will be catching the next flight out. I have something important to do.” The puzzled co-workers did not get the time to question him before he ran out.

He wanted to ensure that the apples had been picked up. When he reached there, much to his amazement, very few of the apples had been gathered. People were rushing but no one seemed to notice the strewn apples. Suddenly he noticed the figure of a young girl, near the apple cart, huddled over and crying. He approached her and realized that she was about 16 years old and she was blind. She was the one who was selling the apples. She could not pick up the apples and was distraught. He was speechless. He reassured her that he would help her and started to collect the apples. A few of them had been damaged by the fall. He kept the damaged ones aside and stacked the good ones on the cart. Slowly the crying of the girl subsided.

After all the apples were picked up, he pulled out $40 as compensation for the damaged apples and handed it over to the girl. He apologized for his actions and started to walk away. All this time the girl had not said one word. In fact he wondered if she was mute as well.

After about 5 steps he heard a voice saying, “Excuse me sir. Are you Jesus?” Overwhelmed with emotion he did not turn back.

When I heard this story I was sad that no one had asked me this question till now.

Has anyone asked you this question? What have you done to deserve this honor? We would be delighted if you could share your story with us.

Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, “here, my poor man”, but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect. – Swami Vivekananda

Read some of our recent blogs that readers have benefitted from:

  1. What Can Aladdin’s Genie Teach you on Communication Skills?
  2. Handling Difficult Conversations – A Leadership Essential
  3. Why Communication Skills are the Epitome of Human Progress

Leadership… Pointing the Way

Sandra stood up one more time and pat came the reply… this time louder than before, she was correct as always.  “Oh Sandra… Oh Sandra, not again”, I groaned to myself. The trainer in me could not allow this to happen.

Sandra was a participant in a customer service training session. She was a very intelligent and extremely confident lady.  She handled even the most complicated questions with ease. Her enthusiasm was initially infectious; however, as the day progressed it became burdensome to the others. As the facilitator, I set some firm limits but she paid no heed to them.

As the leader of her team was she displaying good leadership traits?

“The real leader has no need to lead – he is content to point the way.” – Henry Miller

Half way through the session I was forced to give her some very direct and open feedback. She was not allowing any one to learn and in the process not learning herself. Her behavior was disrupting the session and demoralizing the others.

I also spent time with her alone and sensitized the need for her to change her attitude and behavior. Although she broke down once, she took all the feedback very bravely.

“Truly great leaders spend as much time collecting and acting upon feedback as they do providing it.” – Alexander Lucia.

She started allowing others to speak and gradually started giving more understanding and gaining respect. By personal example she proved her love for her team by acting upon the feedback. She implemented the suggestions given to her as feedback

And so was born a Leader who understood Leadership as ‘Pointing the Way’ – a key concept in Leadership Training.

Here are some more blogs that address various soft skills topics:

  1. Is Your Feedback Constructive?
  2. 3 Tips To Preparing For A Good Presentation
  3. The Paradigm of Indian Leadership

Customer Service – Going the extra mile

Our two year old daughter loves the pastries at the newly opened pastry shop. Their pastries were beyond doubt, the best and the customer service was remarkably good; kind service staff, with that endless, beaming smile and the smell of freshly baked bread as soon as you enter the doorway. I’d walk a mile just to taste their delightfully soft ‘melt in your mouth’ pastries. We visited them often as the shop didn’t provide home delivery for purchase values that were below a certain amount of money and our purchases were never of high value. However, the customer service staff would offer our daughter freebies like their special pastry of the day or would carry her around, with our permission of course, and let her play around. Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than what they expect to get.” – Nelson Boswell Over time, our visits became less frequent but the pastry guys were not willing to give up. Immaterial of the value of our purchase, we were offered home delivery at no extra charge. When we asked them why, they simply said, “We would love to have your daughter relish our pastries.” In due course of time we started getting discounts on our orders. We were grateful for their discounts and home delivery but we would have still gone back to them with or without the extras. We were impressed with the human touch they gave to their services, their core value of love and care through the customer service that they demonstrated. “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney Despite their irresistible pastries, their willingness to look beyond the revenue aspect and to provide selfless customer service earns them a special place in our hearts. Isn’t it great when the work culture of an organization is as good as their products and services? Customer Service Training helps you to understand that customer service is about the heart and not the mind. So focusing on customer service techniques does not create the impact as the person providing the service needs to feel it in their heart. Below are some of our recent blogs on Customer Service and Soft Skills Training:

  1. The Art of Giving Knock-Out Sales Presentations
  2. Selling Skills – Achieving Excellence Through Training
  3. The Cost of Clarity in Communication