By Benson Mukandiwa
In order for organizations to realize the best possible interaction between their employees and the customer, they must ensure that employees are trained adequately in customer service, and also be empowered to make decisions that enhance customer service. Customers will continue to show strong favoritism to organizations that offer personal, custom, ‘just-for-you’ service, whether using the technology of the Internet or in face-to-face transactions.
Customers expect to have issues resolved by contacting an empowered employee who will follow through appropriately. The more customer expectations increase, the more expedient customers require their issues to be dealt with. Because of this, employees are increasingly having to deal with hostile and angry customers and will be required to have the skills and abilities necessary to deal with them. Providing well-trained and informed employees continues to challenge many organizations. With multiple channels of contact and better-informed consumers, this is as important as ever.
Identifying high-impact behaviors that can positively affect customer service is critical to the customer service function. However, this is not enough; these behaviors must be constantly trained and reinforced to ensure the desired results. In service-successful organizations, training and development of employees is a never-ending process. It starts on an employee’s first day on the job and continues until the gold watch is presented. It includes formal and on-the-job training, guided experience, effective coaching, targeted performance review, and strong support for learning from the organization as a whole. Organizations must pursue the development of their employees at all costs. If businesses fail at preparing their employees to deliver proper customer service, the employees will not be prepared to meet ever-increasing levels of service quality . Customer service training must be integrated into the overall training plan of the organization.
Although there are certain employees that exhibit innate traits that are beneficial to providing great customer service such as a great smile, an empathetic attitude, or having a positive attitude, there is no substitute for continued customer service training. Another issue that is important for organizations to keep in mind is that customer service training should be provided to everyone in the organization, regardless of their position. A big mistake that many companies make is training only a small percentage of their staff, usually those who work directly with the customers, such as the customer service department. Doing so is ineffective and dangerous because it promotes the message that customer service is the specific responsibility of a limited group of people. Service needs to be a way of life for everyone in the organization. Organizations that provide customer training to all employees of the company, no matter what their position or title, send the message to the employees of the organization that service is important and is the responsibility of everyone.
Customer service training is as important as any other training. Many times it is assumed that employees know how to provide excellent service. In actuality, some are better than others, but all employees benefit from customer service training. Like all skills, customer service improves with training and practice. Just like any other training for the job is considered to provide “tools” necessary to perform effectively, so too is customer service training. A company’s employees provide a window for the customer to look into its organization.
The big question is does the customer like what they see? Impressions are powerful, and perceptions are reality, whether actually correct or not. For example, the employee looks sharp, is pleasant, and meets all of the customer’s needs and expectations, therefore this is a great organization and all of their employees must be like this. The opposite can also be true. Employees with a bad professional image and that convey negative attitudes leave customers dissatisfied and looking to other organizations for satisfactory experiences.
Good customer service is not only geared to external customers but internal customers as well. Learning how to communicate effectively, maintain a positive attitude in the face of dissention, and proactively provide positive solutions to problems, are skills that will enhance not only the external customers’ experience, but also lead to a more congenial work environment. Organizations that are noted for their customer service view customer service as an ongoing process that must be fully integrated into the maturation of any employee in a comprehensive manner; as is the case with the Disney organization in US, and MacDonald’s restaurants.
The characteristic that distinguishes companies like Disney isn’t found in the bits and pieces of what it does, but in the thoroughness of what it does. When it comes to providing customer service-training, quantity of training should not be confused with quality of training. “Relevance counts as much, maybe more, than minutes. To be effective, training should support serving customers better, working smarter, and creating a better outcome for the organization” .
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR: Benson Mukandiwa (PhD Candidate). Managing Consultant at Benylore Mahden Services (BMS-Edge) Training & Consultancy. Mukandiwa a certified Customer Service Strategist & Training Consultant, Sales Executive, Internationally published author, and Marketing researcher. He is a trained Interaction leader by Success Motivation International (SMI)-USA and British Council. Benson is happily married to wife Martha the couple is blessed with two sons.
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