Training tools for developing great people skills.
Top Customer Service Training Ideas
Every single employee in your organization represents your brand and is responsible for how customers perceive it daily. It’s essential to make sure your customer-facing employees are equipped with the tools and know-how to create an exceptional customer experience. Here are some of the top customer service training ideas to help your employees learn and internalize customer service best practices.
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Exercise to Improve Listening Skills
Effectively communicating with customers is one of the most important parts of delivering successful service. Excellent service requires active, attentive listening, which is a skill many of us often fail to exercise. As a training manager, you need to help employees tune into what customers are saying and challenge their assumptions. This simple and effective customer service activity to improve active listening skills may surprise you!
Have everybody on your team pair up, and give them two questions. Each person must ask the other person one of the two questions, and the other person must answer. Make sure that the questions are simple and have a straightforward answer—but they should require the listener to genuinely hear every word of the question. Here are two examples to illustrate the activity:
- You are driving a bus. It leaves at 8:30 with 33 people. It stops to drop off ten passengers and pick up five. It travels further south, where it drops off another five passengers and picks up another 6. It arrives in New York two hours later. What was the driver’s name?
- Answer? You!
- What’s heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?
- Answer? They’re the same weight... both one pound.
See? You probably got these wrong too! It’s natural for us to assume we already know the question asked, and only half-listen as a result. This is a great way to emphasize how if we don’t listen carefully, we will likely answer incorrectly, which can cause trouble in customer service situations. Encourage participants to approach every customer interaction with this kind of focused attention, listening critically to the customer’s every word, and responding thoughtfully.
Exercise to Improve Empathy
Understanding and respecting someone else’s perspective is crucial for addressing conflicts with a customer and creating a warm impression. But this can be especially difficult if the employee has never personally experienced the customer’s issue before. Role-playing activities can be a great way to help your employees learn how to exercise empathy.
Split your team into groups of three, where one member is the customer, another is the employee, and the third is an observer. Each group is issued three different customer problems that are specific to your industry or business setting. Have each team act out their respective scenario, and then have them switch roles and problems. This gives everybody involved a chance to play each role, understanding the issue from various perspectives.
If you have a larger team, you can break into several groups, or have part of your team, observe the interaction as an audience. They can then offer feedback to the participants as part of a group discussion following each round of the scenario.
Exercise to Improve Problem-Solving
Solving complicated problems on the fly is a critical component of ensuring customer satisfaction, especially in a situation where something has gone wrong. While it’s true that upset customers often want an apology and acknowledgment of error, what they really want is to know what you’re going to do to fix their problem. Your customer service representatives need to have strong problem-solving skills. Here’s a quick exercise to get your employees comfortable thinking creatively about how to solve customer problems.
Divide your employees into groups, assigning each a different and challenging case to solve. Each group must brainstorm as many solutions as possible, with no logical restrictions. The intention here is to get groups to think outside of the box. Pose some of the following “what if” questions to help get the creative juices flowing:
- If this was your business, what would you do?
- If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
- If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do?
- If you had a magic wand, what would you do?
By removing situational constraints, you can get your employees to imagine solutions they may not have thought of before. At the end of the activity, when groups report back what they discussed, you may be able to workshop some of these inventive ideas into practical and applicable scripting.
Exercise to Improve Mindfulness & Stress Reduction
The customer service front lines can be a stressful place to be. Blame often falls on this role when problems inevitably occur, even if they’re out of employees’ control. It’s a position that often gets the brunt of customer anger and frustration.
Here’s a helpful exercise to help you empower your employees with skills to de-escalate and calm down in situations of heightened stress.
Building mindfulness can help your customer service representatives de-stress and preserve their mental health and well-being. If your reps can learn to stay calm and grounded, their calm demeanor can also help to calm down an angry customer—improving the situation all around.
Here, we encourage you to bring in an outside resource to lead a mindfulness meditation workshop. This could be a yoga practitioner or a meditation specialist to teach your employees breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as mantras and positive affirmations. You may also consider including a secluded meditation space in your office or call center to help your reps find time to pause and recharge.
Listening, empathy, problem-solving, and mindfulness are four critical components of delivering quality customer service, no matter what industry you work in. Designing customer service training activities around these fundamentals will help ensure your employees are getting a strong foundation for a great customer experience.
For more comprehensive customer service training activities, workshops, assessments, and more explore the Customer Service collection at HRDQ!