According to a Microsoft report, customer service is a key factor in 96 percent of consumers’ loyalty to a brand.
This should come as no surprise to any business. The sheer number of companies out there gives customers a vast range of purchase options, and every brand has to make a real effort to leave consumers happy after each interaction — or run the risk of losing them to a competitor.
But even if you have popular products or are a leading name in a small niche, buyers won’t stand for poor customer service. And as 83 percent of consumers need some form of support during an online transaction, there are a lot of opportunities to get it wrong.
Providing your customer service agents with an efficient learning program is critical, but it can’t be a single session: staff education must be continual. Why?
#1. Adapt to Changing Customer Service Trends
Customer expectations have changed massively in the past 20 years, thanks to evolving technology. The proliferation of smartphones, affordable internet access and social media have empowered consumers with more ways to contact businesses than ever.
While you might have called a helpline or written a letter in the past, you can just reach out to a brand on Facebook or chat to an agent through live chat in moments now. The best call centers and customer service departments train staff to be competent across all channels, providing a great experience in every interaction.
But you have to watch out for emerging customer service trends and educate employees as soon as possible. For example, competitors may provide consumers with an option to schedule a callback rather than waiting on hold for support. You’d have to incorporate this into your own service to keep up, meaning new learning goals for your agents.
#2. Learn from Good and Bad Customer Interactions
Sadly, not every customer interaction will be perfect. Plenty of factors could affect the consumer’s experience — a bad connection, agents lacking product knowledge, long wait times. Whatever the issue, the last thing you should do is sweep examples of poor service under the metaphorical rug and forget about them.
Instead, you have to study and learn from them. What caused the customer to lose patience and abandon the call? Why didn’t the agent have the answer to a certain question? How can wait times be reduced for a smoother experience?
Getting to the root of each problem will help you create a learning strategy to improve your agents’ performance. Likewise, good interactions have plenty to teach too. Assess calls, chats, emails and more that achieved positive results to inform future training.
Ongoing quality assurance and performance campaigns are vital to identify opportunities for continual learning.
#3. Accommodate Shifting Priorities
Your business’s goals and values may shift over time. Maybe you will start to target a different demographic than before, or decide your manufacturing process needs to be overhauled to align with the public’s ethical expectations.
Whatever the impetus and the effect of changing priorities, a learning strategy must be created to bring staff up to date. If your advertisements promise customers an all-new company ethos yet your agents are still rooted in the ‘old ways’, this will inspire confusion.
Interactions should be reviewed as part of an ongoing process to ensure your customer service and overall business clicks. With a high-quality Learning Management System (LMS), your company can create, manage and distribute learning resources across your entire workforce easily.
Managing your team’s progress, or that of individuals, is simple with the best LMS. You’ll see which employees are hitting their learning goals, improving their knowledge and more.
#4. Focus on Different Aspects of Great Service
Even the strongest employees can’t learn several lessons at the same time and improve all areas of their performance overnight. It takes time, and dividing workers’ attention in too many directions will only be counter-productive.
That’s why continual learning is so important: you should be looking to tackle different problems and cultivate industry-leading service at a steady rate. For example, if monitoring interactions reveals an agent is struggling to respond to support requests, can’t engage customers as well as others and takes too long to resolve issues, allow them to concentrate on one area at a time.
As they grow and show progress here, send them learning sessions in another area. Focus on targeting learning resources to suit each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, rather than subjecting your entire team to an identical process. You’ll maximize the effectiveness of your learning program and minimize wasted time.
#5. Incorporate Customer Feedback from Varied Sources
Customer feedback is a must: their views are essential to understand where your customer service team is succeeding and failing. Just trying to guess what your audience wants and expects can lead to big mistakes.
Use surveys and questionnaires to gather key information on the customer experience. Asking consumers to rate interactions using a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score is a terrific way to find out how good an agent’s performance has been. You can invite them to offer more detailed feedback too, such as choosing from multiple options that summarize their experience (‘I wouldn’t recommend this service to a friend’, for instance).
Understanding your audience’s needs and expectations is crucial to exceed both. Gathering customer feedback will help you identify where gaps in service lie, and give you the data upon which to build an effective learning program to fix issues. You have to keep reviewing interactions over time to catch flaws before they escalate into harmful problems.
Continual learning is a key aspect of maintaining an effective customer service team. Simply delivering occasional training sessions isn’t enough, especially if these aren’t matched to your employees’ specific needs.
Instead, a strategic learning process tailored to suit agents’ weaknesses will help them show improvement, equipping them with the skills to keep customers satisfied. Using a high-quality Learning Management System helps to streamline this routine, providing managers, team leaders and agents with all the right data to track progress.
Over time, an efficient learning program will lead your customer service team to greatness. What tips do you have to help employees grow and improve their skills? Let us know!