Whatever industry you’re in, it’s likely that COVID-19 has put a severe dent in your business – and if any part of your operations involves direct interaction with your clients, you might want to consider giving employees an e-learning boost training-wise right now.
It’s been tough for customer service staff recently. Worries about job security, disrupted routines, concerns about coronavirus exposure at work, overwrought customers; all these factors combined might mean that the excellent customer service your business needs to thrive could be compromised. The solution, however, lies in communication, information and support. The best way to deliver this? E-learning. Solid, targeted courses for your workforce that can build confidence, be taken independently during quiet workdays, and offer a way of smoothing any rough edges that might have appeared over the last few stressful months.
So, we’d like to suggest a handful of directions that online training for customer service employees could take, in the hope that your company, and your staff, will be on track to make a positive comeback in the second half of this year. Lean on your Learning Management System to do this now, and you’ll reap the rewards in a number of ways later.
Etiquette And Awareness
Let’s kick off with some overarching themes that might help introduce customer service training courses to your staff. Choose topics that are important for everyone to get to grips with, regardless of their specific roles or responsibility level. General business etiquette is a good one, and you can adopt an existing online course or build one pretty quickly if you’re already set up with a Learning Management System that offers robust authoring tools. A business etiquette course can be as general or as specific as your company needs it to be, but generally, it should cover ways in which your staff greet clients or customers.
For instance, pre-COVID-19, the handshake tended to be the obvious welcome in most western places of business, but a quick course on open body language, and respectful, but positive verbal greetings from a little distance should help your staff come across as confident and welcoming in its place. Video tools embedded in your LMS modules are a great way to ensure your employees know what’s expected in these uncertain times and you can design these to reflect wherever you are. Online learning can help train staff to politely remind clients to apply hand sanitiser, put on their masks, and so on while maintaining a professional and friendly manner.
Feeding into the topic of etiquette is cultural awareness training for staff too. Everything runs more smoothly if employees understand that their customers are a varied bunch who are all going to expect different behaviours from them in certain situations. Whether your people are interacting with customers in person or over the phone, offer them modules focused on this via their online learning. In this way, they’ll be prepared to serve customers from anywhere in the world with respect and ease.
Outstanding Customer Service
Outstanding customer service has always been the goal, right? Even before all ‘this’ kicked off, the importance of ‘going the extra mile’ was always the route to happy customers, repeat business and an excellent reputation. Now things are a little more complicated, and so your staff will need support in delivering the best possible experiences. Additionally, as a company, you also might be finding your employees have either had an extremely challenging few months. Adapting fast to new workday realities, furloughed, given fewer shifts or finding that their workloads weirdly light.
Now is a great time to roll out E-learning company-wide to gather everyone together on the same page, and brush up customer service skills. Get everyone confident enough to serve up excellent experiences to a customer walking through your door, sending an email or calling you up. Your LMS can help you devise a structured system of training, which means that you can deliver instruction on every element of every job if need be. For example, customer rapport is more important than ever before and is a crucial course you should implement via online learning for your staff. Customers and potential customers might be nervous about coming to visit you, or currently uncertain about the services you’re offering. A clear, achievable set of online courses that cover warmth, openness, flexibility and ways to empathise with customers should assist your employees in dealing with flighty or even tricky clients. If your staff have a keen awareness of the ways they are free to contribute, and how interpersonal behaviours can alleviate tension, the experience will be easier for all.
Also, online training can teach staff how they can solve customer problems in more creative ways than were previously permitted while simultaneously allowing management to keep a handle on these solutions. Group learning via video links, interactive, game-like apps and utilising other key training tools that your LMS offers will make problem-solving in a safe environment stimulating and entertaining. All of this will lead to exceeding your customer’s expectations and achieving the best service standards possible.
Learning To Listen
Another area where online training can help your service providers right now is extra help and direction when it comes to listening to customers—like, really listening. Client requests are probably going to be more custom, more varied and overall more complicated than usual. Prepare your folks with superb training, and these interactions will produce more positive outcomes. We’d strongly recommend e-learning that tackles ways to listen to clients properly, how customer service staff can affirm they’ve heard the request—whatever it may be— and ways to explain how they can fulfill that request or come as close as possible. Audio tools, and courses that present real-life scenarios, are great ways to do this.
Keeping Things Calm
However, even if your workforce is comprised of uniformly excellent employees, offering truly comprehensive services, there will always be customers with ridiculous expectations or those who get angry when the smallest detail of their order isn’t possible. Angry or crazy-demanding customers, even in more ordinary times, are part and parcel of front of house. If your staff aren’t prepared through training, then these interactions are going to go downhill pretty quickly. If you utilise your Learning Management System to ready employees for aggressive or unrealistic individuals, they’ll feel confident enough to deploy company policy and creative thinking to diffuse and resolve difficult situations. In all likelihood, customers may not be their best selves right now, given the uncertainty 2020 is serving up. Consistent training for front-line customer service workers is critical if you want to take good care of your staff and your business.
Leading A Customer Service Culture
Overall, a business that values customer service culture is going to be a business that makes it over this incredible hump we’re experiencing. Granted, there are other hurdles to jump too, but consistently getting customer experiences right is a significant factor in rebuilding customer trust in challenging conditions. Because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a business without customers. If your company relies on direct interaction with consumers or clients (and nearly every business does at some point in the chain), then a company-wide mindset that values the customer and their experience is a fundamental building block.
Here’s where your Learning Management System can help. The beauty of online training software is that it isn’t a bunch of courses in a filing cabinet somewhere, or a random expert wheeled in annually to deliver a lecture on a Friday afternoon. Your LMS is, content-wise, going to be unique to your company, and accessible 24/7, every day of the year. You can create courses that reflect how you’d like your staff to interact with clients, whether they’re greeted in one of your stores or call your head office. It might be email protocol too, for example. You can build e-courses that reflect different customer demographics, expectations and the ways specific clients in certain streams of business respond positively.
Your LMS is a bespoke library, lecture room, team-building experience, employee confidence-builder and career-advancer, and it can also be universally threaded through with a customer service-oriented learning culture that benefits your customers and helps your staff in everything they do.
Because ultimately, your staff are your most valuable resource. Support them, build their confidence in potentially tricky scenarios, and they’ll come through for you. If the pandemic has taught us anything, perhaps it’s the value of employees, and particularly those who greet and serve customers face to face. Some of your staff might have lost some confidence in their abilities and maybe uncomfortable or a little unsure of how to approach others in this new mask-wearing, physically-distant world. Through software that can bring colleagues together and help them rediscover what they’re truly good at, by extending existing knowledge, you can demonstrate that their company cares about them. And then they can show your customers that you’re both dedicated to their positive experience.
So, to wrap this up, we’ll just say that customer service courses should be top of the priority list right now in terms of staff training. Getting back to serving customers is going to be a nerve-wracking experience for some of your staff. And your online training software, if well-curated, should offer a clear pathway to providing customers with exceptional experiences again—even if the forms they take are a little different these days.