Teaching Customer Service Skills

A reporter recently asked my thoughts on teaching customer service skills to employees with no previous experience. Thought you’d be interested in my comments.

Let’s assume the new Customer Service employees have participated in an effective and comprehensive orientation program about the industry, company and community. Then, they transitioned into an orientation about the Customer Service department, its mission, role, etc. Part of that orientation process should include:

  • Experiencing what the customers experience when dealing with the company and with the CSRs. Have them stay at the hotel, eat at the restaurant, shop at the store, call the office, etc.
  • Assessing tangible skills needed for success, or review pre-hire skill assessment. Create an individualized development plan for each new CSR.
  • Shadowing several experienced excellent CSRs handing phone or personal contact. Fill out detailed observation form.
  • Meeting with manager to debrief the above.
  • Working with an experience ‘buddy’ to practice simulated customer encounters. Receive constructive, specific and comprehensive feedback.
  • Participating in appropriate on-line or instructor-led training in various aspects of CSR role.
  • Evaluating performance against specific measurable objectives at three and six months.

The above plan should bring new CSRs without previous experience up to an effective and efficient level of performance quickly and cost-effectively.