It’s a fair question to have when you read an article about customer service training and wonder if you could work magic by applying those ideas to your business. When you look at the businesses that have hit it big, from the outside it looks like great service comes naturally to them. But is it ever really that easy, to just hire geniuses and start delivering brilliant service right away?
Business giants who are known for their service adopt training practices that are usually lesser known. These practices turn a normal interaction with a customer into a memorable experience that reminds the customer exclusively of their brand. I believe these businesses’ perspectives make for some good reading. So here are a few examples of a couple of those companies and how training saves the day for them, every single day.
Zappos—The WOW Philosophy
For most businesses, customer service is a department. But for Zappos, it’s a passion. They strive to deliver better service, not just to have happy customers, but to build bonds that last. Any company wanting to do so has a lot of groundwork to do before they can actually succeed.
“Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company” – Tony Hsieh
How Zappos takes care of its customers is a clear sign that they’re as customer-centric as a business gets. But delivering a high bar of service requires meticulous, well-planned training courses.
Zappos kicks off their training session with a test of loyalty. Trainees can take $2000 and leave at the end of the first week if they choose to. The offer stands till the end of the month leaving them with just the ones that align with the company’s level of commitment.
Zappos understands the need to build a workforce that is dedicated to the cause of customer service. Their agents are trained to focus on the metrics that matter: not ticket volumes or quick resolution times, but quality time with the customers. Each agent is expected to spend at least 80% of their time interacting with customers. Set the right priorities to ensure that customers are satisfied beyond just resolving their issue.
“What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture.” – Tony Hsieh
A for Apple…
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward toward the technology – not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs
Apple is predominantly known around the world for making neat, ground-breaking products. But another way Apple’s made a name for themselves is how they look at and deliver a good customer experience. Their customer service is everything you’d expect them to be. They have their process planned out on how to serve you, from the minute you step into their store to the minute you leave (not just after your issue has been resolved.)
The entire process feels polished and has an air of perfection to it, much like their products. But how do they manage to pull this off? A look into their training manual gives us an idea. They take a systematic view of how to approach a customer, understand, and provide solutions with clarity.
Their very name serves as an acronym for the process, which goes like this:
Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs (ask closed and open-ended questions).
Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
So what can we take away from these two businesses that have set benchmarks for great customer service?
Onboard and onboard well.
It helps to get agents to understand what the company expects out of them right from the first day. Training them to fit your company’s vision right from the start is a good way of making sure that they become an extension of your company. The view you want customers to have of your business will remain intact even as you scale up.
Train your agents in your preferred process until it becomes muscle memory. The process that you define is unique to your own business and will remind them of the way they dealt business with you. Reiterate your process as many times as needed until you’re confident that a customer will remember the experience positively.
Conform to Uniformity
Customer service training with the right balance of absorbing the service process will create a uniform experience for all your customers. This uniformity will eliminate any confusion they have about what they might experience when they do business with you. Your customers can also feel confident spreading the word about your brand without having second thoughts about your service.
There are many ways you can wow your customers and vastly different ways to train your agents accordingly. But the fundamentals remain the same. Being courteous, listening intently, and providing solutions in ways that are unique to your brand will always be the main ingredients in happy and successful customer service.