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.

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.