How do you prepare a customer service representative for work? This job can be complicated — there’s no way you can plan for every single variable you’re sure to face, so training can seem like a formidable activity. Luckily, you don’t have to address and arrange for all eventualities in your training programs, as long as you give your reps a strong foundation to stand on. A well-prepared customer service professional is not someone who has all the scripts memorized — but rather one who is willing and able to take any and all customer communications with a smile and a sense of service.
Qualities of Great Customer Service
Providing customers with excellent service experiences starts with a great attitude, reinforced by actionable skills which can be developed through training exercises. In this section you’ll find 5 of the top-lauded tools all customer service reps should have in their kits.
- Patience – Customers who reach out for support are often confused or frustrated and may not always have the precise industry vocabulary to explain the exact nature of their problem. Service representatives must be able to listen carefully and ask the right questions to effectively help their caller.
- Knowledge – As a customer, it can be frustrating to hear the words “I don’t know.” Reps don’t have to be experts, but they should know enough about your organization’s product to be helpful when a customer calls. And if the question is truly beyond them, they should know who to call!
- Positivity – Putting an affirmative spin on even an impossible situation will always give the customer a good experience, whether or not you were able to ultimately help them. Using positive language is subtle in some cases, but critical. The customer should leave your conversation feeling like their needs have been met, or a solution is continuing to unfold.
- Empathy – If nothing else, all customer service representatives must approach all interactions with a high degree of empathy. Even in those rare instances when you can do nothing to help your customer, they should feel listened to, and assured that their concerns are valid and a priority — because their customer service provider is genuinely making them one.
- Persistence – Maybe you do have more of your product in the back, or perhaps there is one more trick they can try to get their device to work properly, or what if they spoke to someone with a more precise knowledge of their problem? Customer service representatives shouldn’t give up on helping a customer until they have explored all possibilities for solving their problem. And then, they should try one more route.
Fun and Easy Customer Service Training Exercises
All of the top qualities exhibited by outstanding customer service representatives are skills which can either be absorbed or taught. In this section, you will find cultivation activities which help develop some of these critical abilities, ensuring your customer service reps are giving your customers the best possible experience.
Positive Language – This exercise trains customer service representatives to use affirmative statements when interacting with a customer.
Provide your reps-in-training with a list of “negative” phrases and ask them to translate each phrase into a more positive, solution-oriented statement. For example, the phrase “I have no idea,” can be improved by instead saying, “I am personally unable to answer your question, but I will put you in contact with someone who can.” Phrases should be translated as a group, and you should discuss why the positive phrase is an improvement on the negative.
Product Presentations – This exercise allows your representatives to learn about your company’s product, and practice addressing customer questions.
Assign to each of your reps-in-training a particular product or aspect of a product which is provided by your company. They should research the product as thoroughly as possible and put together a short presentation to be given to the rest of the trainees. For example, if you are a software company, you might assign “common issues, troubleshooting techniques, and solutions of product X,” to one of your reps. All trainees present should take notes during the other’s presentations.
Telephone – This exercise helps customer service representatives practice careful listening.
All participants should sit in a circle. One person should come up with a short phrase, which they will whisper to the person sitting directly to their left — quietly enough that others cannot hear what is being said. The phrase will then be passed around the circle until it reaches the last person in the circle. That person will then say the phrase out loud, and the original whisperer will note any changes to the phrase. The ultimate goal of the game is to get the phrase around the circle unchanged, through careful listening and attention.
Problem-solving – This exercise trains customer service representatives to explore all possible solutions to an issue.
Divide your participants into pairs or small groups. Provide each group with a unique issue — it can either be a real problem which is common or historical to your organization, or something silly. Set a timer for 5 – 10 minutes and ask each group to come up with as many solutions or routes of exploration as possible. Once the timer goes off, have the groups share the solutions they came up with.