Industry Update
Opinion Article25 March 2020

Customer Service Training Isn't What You Think it is

By Shep Hyken, Customer Service and Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author

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Many companies have a great focus on providing an excellent or, as I like to call it, amazing customer service experience.

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They do customer service training during the onboarding process. Once every year or so, they have some type of refresher. Good for them, but there's more to it than just that and it's easier than you think.

Communication is a big part of keeping the "magic" going, and to do that you must consider ongoing training. By ongoing training—and this is important—I'm not referring to pulling everyone away from their normal responsibilities for a half-day or full-day (or more) once a month or once a quarter—although some companies do that. (Applause for those that do!) However, the key to sustaining this type of training can be as simple as constant reminders and reinforcement. That could mean a few minutes each week.

Customer service training doesn't have to be so formal. Consider a restaurant that has a short meeting with its staff just before the doors open. The manager can talk about what they noticed the night before—both good and bad. Just sharing those examples can get employees into the right mindset. If any accolades were passed on to the manager, those can be shared with the team. It takes just five or ten minutes. That doesn't seem like much time, but don't diminish the power of a few minutes. The repetition of the message—which can be as simple as customer service is important—is the key to sustain the power of their initial training.

For many businesses, a weekly reminder similar to the example of the restaurant's daily five- or ten-minute meeting is optimal. It doesn't need to be its own meeting. Make it part of a larger weekly meeting. Many of my clients talk about their weekly "huddles," which means the departments and teams are already meeting on a regular basis.

I bring all this up because in times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, the need to deliver that great service experience becomes even more crucial. Customers of all types of businesses, B2C and B2B, are frustrated, have less patience, are angry and even scared. If you're open for business, it should be as close to business-as-usual as it can be. That means delivering the customer service experience your customers expect.

By the way, our employees may exhibit that same frustration, lack of patience, anger, and fear. That's why it's important to either train or sustain the right behaviors. Now, more than ever, we must remind our people of the importance of delivering the right customer service experience. Again, this isn't formal training, but simply consistent reminders that keep the idea of delivering good customer service front-of-mind for everybody. If you are looking for topics to discuss in your meetings, look through past Shepard Letter articles or watch some of my weekly videos.

I hope that when you're reading this, the coronavirus crisis is diminishing or, even better, a distant memory. Either way, I wish you and your employees good health and a continued focus on delivering an amazing customer service experience.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXX, Shep Hyken)

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