In business, external success begins with inner success. To develop a strong and lasting relationship with customers, you must first strengthen the camaraderie within your organization. To keep the customers satisfied, you must first create a great corporate culture. And finally, to ensure a meaningful customer engagement, you must first teach and expose your employees the ins and outs of customer service.
How would you this? Start with the basics — customer service training.
Customer service training is the initial step in leveraging customer engagement. As the saying goes, “what you sow is what you will reap.” How you shape, teach, and train your new hires predetermines how they will handle future circumstances with your customers.
This is similar to what the Magellan Solutions’ training manager Joseph Dizon said in an interview, “if they [customer service representatives] are more attuned to customer culture and [knowledgeable in] customer communication, customers will be more engaged and perhaps trust the agent more on the call. It also reflects the competency of our agent.” Aside from price and product quality, what really drives customer engagement is the quality of their experience when dealing with the company.
Investing in customer service training to facilitate customer engagement positively impacts the business. On average, fully-engaged customers represent 23 percent share of profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared to typical customers, according to the data released by Gallup, a management consulting company.
However, the best-selling author Adrian Swinscoe reminded us in the Forbes article “What Does Customer Engagement Really Mean” that “real, lasting, and durable relationships aren’t just transactional but are much more complicated and contextual than that.”
Customer service training is usually divided into different stages. In Magellan Solutions, manager Joseph Dizon said that customer service training is subdivided into three phases: foundational skills training, product specification training, and OJT or the incubation period.
As the initial phase of the customer service training, foundational skills training (FST) aims to build the foundation of an agent’s communication skills. In this period, the trainer follows a curriculum that outlines every topic which needs to be covered during the FST. This involves the following:
In Magellan Solutions, the FST phase lasts for about five days for voice campaigns and three days for non-voice campaigns.
Compared to the FST, product-specific training (PST) is more technical. This phase focuses on the specific requirements of a campaign. In PST, the agents should gain all essential knowledge for a particular product or service, the company background, and the common problems consumers experience with the product or service.
The training for PST usually lasts for five days both for voice and non-voice campaigns.
Before subjecting trainees to work, they should first undergo the incubation or the transition period. To prepare them for handling actual calls, they are first exposed to how their trainers, leaders, and experienced agents do the job. After this process, they will take calls by themselves with the guidance of the trainer or an experienced agent. The latter will then evaluate the performance and identify what needs to be improved to meet the requirements of the client’s campaign.
Through incubation, trainees can put all their learnings into practice.
For voice campaigns, incubation lasts for 10 days while 12 days for non-voice campaigns.
Aside from the aforementioned phases, Magellan Solutions’ training department also implements pre-training and post-training assessments to determine the skills level of an agent.
Pre-training: This is carried out through an interview or verbal assessment before the training. This is done to gather information about the level the agent is currently in.
Post-training: This is executed after subjecting the agents to training to find out how much they have improved or how much they have learned during the whole training session. The assessment will be based on a data that would allow trainers or evaluators to see the improvement of the trainee during the entire training period.
For the past six months, Magellan Solutions showed significant improvement in these three phases in terms of attrition.
There is a significant drop in attrition for the foundational skills training. The same goes for product-specific training and the incubation period.
This improvement is due to the continuous improvement in terms of coaching and monitoring being done by the Magellan Solutions’ training department.
Although training new hires is the main focus of the most organization, those who are working for quite some time also need to undergo such training on a regular basis.
The American customer service expert Shep Hyken emphasized in the Forbes article “Every Employee Needs Customer Service Training” that employees should realize that customer service training is something employees should do consistently to “reinforce good habits and principles.”
The quality of your customer service depends on how you reinforce this idea into your organization and turn it into a concrete action. It pays to have a refresher and an upgrade to remind your team how important customer service is to the overall growth of the company. This will also serve as a way to maintain the engagement of your employees. Improving employee engagement will give you the assurance that your customers will be more confident in using your services. With more confidence towards your brand, they have a higher chance to become more engaged.
Magellan Solutions’ customer service training comes in various forms: initial training, cross-training, upskilling, and retraining.
As discussed above, the initial training takes place when an agent enters the company. This is the phase wherein the training department teaches all necessary information needed for the position.
Cross-training, on the other hand, is for agents who are trained for one campaign to another.
Upskilling happens when there is a need for an upgrade. For instance, a customer service representative will undergo this training if the client requires them to handle billing as well.
Finally, retraining is for an agent who fails in the quality assurance assessment. The agent will again undergo initial training, but this time, it will be more in-depth and focused.
According to training manager Joseph Dizon, customer service training can affect your company’s success in the following ways:
To make sure that your customer service training is effective, here are some things that you need to keep in mind:
How you treat and develop your employees reflect on their performance towards your customers. The more engaged they are in your company, the more they can give service to your customers which they will surely love or appreciate. As an effect, their experience will become more memorable and will trigger them to interact more with your business — resulting in deeper customer engagement.
And it all has to start with the most basic, initial thing every customer service representative should go through: customer service training.