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HRDQ will be closed on Friday (5/24) and Monday (5/27) for Memorial Day
How to Build and Train a World Class Customer Service Team - HRDQ

How to Build and Train a World Class Customer Service Team

Did you know that 78% of consumers say that multiple bad customer service experiences with a company would lead them to switch to a competitor? Regardless of how stellar the product or service your offering is, there is little question that your business will suffer if you are offering sub-par customer service.

You've likely had a similar experience yourself at one point or another. If a customer service representative is rude or unhelpful, there's a good chance that your opinion of the company will suffer. On the other hand, a super-friendly customer service team member that seems personally motivated to help you solve your problem will most likely leave you with a positive view of the brand.

For this reason, you mustn't cut any corners when building and training your customer service team.

Are you wondering what it takes to create a customer-facing team to help your business succeed and thrive? Let's look at how you can build and train a top-notch customer service team.

Invest in Hiring the Right Team Members

When you consider that 90% of Americans incorporate customer service as a factor when choosing whether or not to do business with a company, it becomes abundantly clear how important it is for your customer service team to be friendly, professional, and focused on solving customer problems. If you want to provide top-notch customer service to your customers, one of the most important steps toward this end is the hiring process. The team you put together to answer phone calls, respond to emails, and engage in chat support are brand representatives.

Customer Service Team Members

When you choose the team that will most often interact with your customers, you'll want to consider the hard and soft skills they are bringing to the table. Both of these types of skills can be learned. Still, you might find that hiring individuals who have the right personality for the job but haven't yet developed the technical skills are a better fit than those who have experience but don't have a personality.

Invest in Training Hard and Soft Skills

Once you have put together the perfect team, it's time to start training.

Of course, you will want to have training programs as a part of your onboarding process to ensure that all new hires know the ropes. However, it's also a good idea to hold weekly or monthly training sessions for your existing employees to help keep them up to date regarding new products or services and boost their proficiency in hard and soft skills.

Training Customer Service Employee

While some smaller businesses might be reluctant to invest in employee training programs, they can provide an effective ROI when you do the math. If you're curious about how you can measure ROI for training programs, you'll want to check out this guide.

Are you interested in helping your team improve their customer service skills? If so, take a look at Becoming a Customer Service Star.

Create a Community Mentality

When you hire people for your customer service team, you want to find individuals that genuinely want to help solve people's problems. They find meaning in being helpful to people, and they have the patience and thick skin to deal with upset and unhappy customers.

Customer Service Team Member

However, it's not just about the individual people you pick for your team. It's also essential to create and nurture a team mentality. While the actions of each team member are critical to the success of your customer service department and business as a whole, it's also vital that you create a genuine sense that you are all working together to help the business thrive and prosper.

Respect the Strengths of Each Team Member's Personality

It is easy for customer service roles to become incredibly formulaic. While it's understandable that companies would want to ensure that customers are receiving accurate information in a professional manner, scripting out everything that your customer service team says can make the interaction feel a lot less human.

Managing Customer Service Team

Not only does having a script for every potential occurrence make it seem like the customer is interacting with a robot (which can be pretty frustrating, by the way,) but it also doesn't consider the strengths of each of your team member's personalities.

You might even consider incorporating personality assessments into your training to help you better understand each team member's style.

Be Communicative and Honest

Nothing alienates a team of workers more than the feeling that the higher-ups aren't being communicative and honest with them. So if you are looking to motivate your customer service team to put their all into their work every day of the week, you will want to consider improving communication between management and the front line.

Being Communicative With Employee

It's easy for customer service teams to feel like they are at the bottom of the totem pole at a company. However, it's essential to understand that few things have more power to make or break a company than the group of people you have in customer-facing roles. If you feel like your customer service team has been unmotivated and uninspired, you might want to make sure that the communication lines are open between the team and management. Rather than keeping them in the dark about upcoming changes in the company, make it a point to include them, allow them the opportunity to give feedback, and show your appreciation.

Celebrate Accomplishments at the Personal and Team Level

One of the best ways to motivate your customer service team is to make sure that individuals and the team are being celebrated when they do a great job. If you aren't acknowledging the accomplishments of your customer service team, they will quickly learn that there isn't much point in reaching for the stars.

Of course, it's easy to go too far in this regard. If you are celebrating every little thing to the point where it feels a bit infantilizing (think gold stars for perfect attendance), then these accolades stop having any meaning.

Celebrating Team Accomplishments

Consider setting specific goals that your team members can work towards both personally and at the team level. Then, when they meet these goals, reward them with something that they will genuinely appreciate.

Encourage Your Customer Service Team to Work Their Way Up

Building and training a fantastic customer service team isn't just about hiring the right people but also about keeping the right people. While some star employees might be more than happy to stay at the same desk for years, others will desire upward mobility. So rather than losing your strongest team members as they increase their experience, encourage them to work their way up in your business.

When you create your own leaders, it's a win-win situation for everyone involved. As a manager or owner, this is great for you because the employee is already familiar with the ins and outs of the company and its culture. Of course, it's also a plus that you don't have to deal with the expense of outside hiring.

Encouraging Customer Service Team

For the team, though, this is also great news. If you promote a highly respected customer service team member to a managerial role, you'll find that your team will likely transition much more smoothly than if you hire someone who has never worked at the company before.

It allows the individual to continue to grow rather than feeling like they are stagnating in one role. They can take all of their experience working in the customer service department and improve your systems. Having been in the shoes of the people they are now managing, they will be well-equipped to lead the team to success.

Be Empathetic

When training your world-class customer support team, being empathetic is essential. Rather than running your training session like a boot camp, consider using it as an opportunity to understand which employees would best fill certain positions. Different team members will have different strengths and weaknesses, and understanding this can help the whole process go more smoothly.

Email Customer Support

For example, you might find that one new team member is a bit shy on the phone but has an excellent command of written language. This person might be perfectly suited for email or chat customer support. Another employee, on the other hand, might be incredibly extroverted and personable but definitely didn't win any awards for grammar and spelling in grade school. This individual is likely a great ambassador for your company on the phone or in an in-person office rather than in a role that primarily consists of writing.

Give Your Customer Service Team All the Resources They Need to Act With Confidence

If you don't invest in your hiring process, you will likely find that the people who make up your customer service team are a mixed bag of hard and soft skills. That might leave you wanting to script every last word for them, leaving customers waiting while your representatives are searching through documents for a very particular response to a particular question.

However, if you can hire a team of truly remarkable people who have the right attitude for dealing with customers, you don't need to do this. By building a team you trust, training them in both hard and soft skills, and making the expectations incredibly clear, you can trust them to interact with customers professionally and naturally.

Acting With Confidence

Instead of creating a very specific script for your team, help them understand where you are coming from and what they are empowered to do. Is it essential that every customer is satisfied no matter what, and you, therefore, allow product returns with a full refund, no questions asked? If so, make it clear to your customer service team that they have the freedom to grant full refunds to unsatisfied customers.

Don't Forget About Work-Life Balance

Your customer service team is the front lines of your business, and it's important to understand just how taxing it can be to constantly serve people in a customer-facing role. It is unfair that customer service teams are often seen as one of the bottom rungs of a company's ladder. Few jobs are more challenging than fielding questions, complaints, and angry rants from customers day in and day out.

If one of your best customer service team members starts showing up to work with tired eyes, a grumpy attitude, and a little less of that "let's make it happen" attitude, you're likely looking at a burnt-out employee. If you fail to recognize that your team is being overworked, you will probably have difficulty retaining your star employees.

Burnt Out Employee

For this reason, it's imperative to encourage your team to have a healthy work-life balance. Don't press them to take their jobs home or badger them with emails after hours. Allow them to work from home sometimes or even allow a certain number of "mental health days" a year where they can take the day off, no questions asked. It's also a good idea to encourage your employees to take breaks and do so away from their desks and workspace.

Is It Time For You To Improve Your Customer Service Team Training?

Hiring the right people is essential for building a world-class customer service team, but an equally important step is utilizing high-quality training methods. When you have trained your team thoroughly and properly, they can feel empowered to serve the customers best, and you can trust that they will offer the best possible customer support.

Customer Service Team Training

Are you looking for the right tools to help you train your customer service team? At the HRDQ Store, we offer courses and assessments in everything from telephone skills to building business-to-business relationships. Once you have compiled your dream team of customer service representatives, HRDQ has everything you need to empower your employees to offer the best customer service imaginable.

Do you or your business have any questions about building or training your customer service team? If so, please feel free to leave a comment down below, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We make it a point to reply to every comment or question we receive, and we'd be more than happy to assist you however we possibly can!

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.