Key Training Ideas for Your Customer Service Program

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    Not everyone is or is willing to be computer literate to take care of basic business.

    We all have different ways to train. Some would say some of us remain in the dark ages, but you also might argue that not all that’s old-fashioned is bad. We often buy things because they are antique or retro. It may make the untested or lightly tested technology of the day look good; however, it makes the trainers who have good old-fashioned, reliable company training on their mind look bad.

    I won’t deny it. But I do think there are good ways to do the job right and good ways to sound good and make a profit. Don’t get me wrong; profit is important, but a one-time sale as in some automated services is bad for all trainers, not just one business.

    If you have an automated customer service, make sure it works smoothly and quickly and gives callers an opportunity to talk directly to customer service rep. Not everyone is or is willing to be computer literate to take care of basic business.

    True story. We received a utility bill threatening to shut off our utilities in three days if we did not pay five months of our past due bill. Our bill has always been on autopay so we didn’t notice. We don’t generally open that information bill that says so much has been taken from your checking account, but we did this time and will now in the future.

    When I tried customer service, I was told to go to the webpage or call the next day. The web site wouldn’t take my numbers–not my fault. I gave up and called the next day, or rather my wife did.

    After a forty-five minute wait, she was able to talk to a person

    After a forty-five minute wait, she was able to talk to a person who told her that we had never been on autopay, which was absolutely not true; we had no problem on our end and no notice from them. And they couldn’t fix it without transferring us to two different places with waiting lines and a fee for credit card payments.

    Not good customer service. Maybe because they were the only game in town… May I make a suggestion here? If you don’t know the business or the specifics of training or customer service, don’t sell businesses off-the-shelf merchandise in place of the real thing.

    Customer service hot lines that don’t really do much but steer a customer through the automated system to the right person hopefully is not my idea of good customer service and it shouldn’t be yours. Customer service means solving problems, giving customers the satisfaction of knowing you back your product or service.

    Customer service means solving problems, giving customers the satisfaction of knowing you back your product or service.

    This automated form of customer service is useful provided the customer has account number and other accounted identifying passwords and, of course, fingers of lightning on the phone keyboard. Make enough mistakes most systems send you to a web page, which is not much better. I have even had them hang up and say call another day.

    Know it now, it is my opinion that of most business practices someone should still be able to get to a person without waiting thirty minutes–ten is bad enough. Waiting kills customer confidence in your company. If you don’t have the people or particularly busy days, most of us understand in this economy.

    Good customer service is never about passing the buck. Who the hell told a business professional of that magnitude that that was the case? Were they not adequately trained in customer service, or were they given off-the-shelf products (how-tos) to keep costs down and provide immediate answers without talking to a person and call it customer service?

    Enough rant. Now, some key training ideas.

    • Put the hands on back into customer service. I think one of my first blogs talked about the government and how we had gone automated, then pulled back to personal involvement to satisfy our customer base.
    • In areas that are necessarily people-friendly or should be, don’t expect a machine voice to take the place of a person who can provide unique solutions or even make decisions.
    • Always have a place for questions with a person equipped to answer in a polite, respectful manner whether the company is right or wrong. Managers should be taught or trained to do this or they shouldn’t be managers. If it isn’t a manager, but a specialist, extra pay is in order. Keep in mind the stress level of the position, and rotate and back-up, that function.
    If it isn't a manager, but a specialist, extra pay is in order. Keep in mind the stress level of the position, and rotate, and back-up, that function.

    Keeping your company happy and customers glowing will keep managers from jumping through hoops to find elegant solutions to a problem that could have been solved simply–and probably at less cost in the long run.

    I apologize for my long absence. It was health-related. Now, I’m back and I promise the best in customer service. Training and development is so intertwined with how we do business well, I feel something has gone wrong in training when other areas show flaws. For those who have followed me, you know the solution in any case is either bad communication or misguided training. We all have to make a buck, but let’s keep the country strong by relying on some of the basics that made us who we are–not always the cheapest but the most dependable. I hope that’s still true.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    Pay me a visit on my webpage and check out my other writings–some in different arenas. Also, my book The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development and novel, Harry’s Reality, are related and interesting diversions for a small price. Happy training.