The R.O.A.D. To AWESOME Customer Service Training

roadIn December, I shared a post about On-Boarding Without Over-Boring with some tips to help leaders ensure that their new employees have a memorable first day.

The trick:

Keep it fresh, fun and casual, but make sure policies and other business-y stuff is clearly communicated and understood.

So, when Phone.com took on the challenge of hiring four brand new customer service representatives in an office 3,000 miles away from our regular support office, I took on the challenge of training them. In one week.

So, what worked and what didn’t? I just got back (escaped the blizzard) and maybe it’s too early to tell (be on the lookout for an update post on this in the near future).

If you’re a call center looking for tips to create a new training plan for your new customer service representatives, get behind the wheel and take a drive on:

The R.O.A.D. To AWESOME Customer Service Training

Be Real

Everyone has their own learning style–we need to be realistic here. While one on one training may not be an option for everyone, being aware of various ways to train different products at your company is important. Perhaps this means taking the hardest material and breaking it down, training the same thing using more than one learning style:

  • Verbal, discussing the product with the leader and group
  • Hands On, using the product in a real situation
  • Visual, looking at pictures and following instructions
  • Solitary, doing reading alone and learning the how-to your way

Your realistic approach allows you to be creative with how you teach and cater to the various types of people on your team.

Be Organized

Schedule out your training plan! I can’t stress this enough. It gives your trainers a guide to follow and it gives your new team structure. They are prepared to move from one item to the next. We used Google Docs to generate a schedule for each training item, also including breaks, to ensure we had ample time to discuss each topic. The format we attempted to follow was:

  • Overview of product/training item
  • Hands on time to test it out and see how it really works
  • Discussion with group and leader
  • Self Study (watching webinars, reading materials, etc.)

Be Adaptable

Things may not always go as planned. It’s bound to happen to the best of us. Being adaptable when issues arise and finding the next route to take swiftly and surely isn’t easy but it’s necessary. Plus, you can use the changes that arise as hints on how to modify your training plan in the future. For example, if there is an item you trained on for thirty minutes that ended up with discussion questions from the team that lasted for an hour, chances are there’s not enough material on the item in the first place and it needs to be re-evaluated.

Be Dedicated

Know that your goal as a leader in training your new employees is to ensure their success in your company. While yes, it is up to the individual to retain the information and take the training seriously, you must show them that you are dedicated and motivated to make sure they have all the information and resources they need to do their job. Dedicate yourself solely to this training and make sure that once your representative picks up their first customer call, they feel confident!

Training plans are always a work in progress–people change, times change and products change. But, if you stay on top of it and keep driving, even when bumps or potholes find you on your path, you’ll continue to create incredible customer service representatives to assist the customers of your product.

[custom_author=jenny]

Jenny Dempsey is currently the the Social Media and Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn.com. She has worked at tech startups since 2005. She's the co-founder and regular contributor over at CustomerServiceLife.com. She's a certified health coach, but not the kind that forces you to only eat cardboard and deprive yourself of ice cream. JennyDempseyWellness.com, the company she started, was designed to bring a new type of wellness into the workplace, one that gives you permission to look deeper into yourself, rather than just on the healthy snacks in the break room. She is the mother to a toothless rescue cat named Chompers. Avocados and veggie tacos are the way to her heart. She's also a Hanson fan for life.

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