Customer expectations evolve rapidly. Service excellence in the face of unpredictability is a strategic business move to distinguish yourself from the pack. The continuous learning of employees plays a pivotal role in adaptive customer service.
Even if you don’t think your specific industry will change much, society will. With tech innovations, social norms, and economic fluctuations, it’s difficult to predict exactly what customers will expect of you. However, there are ways you can prepare your team to adapt and grow. Use the following tips to lead customer-facing employees, and your organization, toward a sustainable, successful future.
Why Employers Should Support Continuous Learning
It’s up to the employer to provide the most up-to-date training materials to employees. Otherwise, they would have to use their own free time to practice continuous learning. Especially in customer service, there simply isn’t enough time and money going around to facilitate that. It’s much more advantageous to work continuous learning into your regular workflow.
Regardless of industry, continued education can be what sets you apart from competitors. Potential employees will want to join an environment where they can learn and achieve milestones. Existing employees will stick around, boosting retention rates and team satisfaction. Skills gaps can be closed, saving the company from having to bring costly extra talent to the team. Upskilling encourages innovation and creative thinking, leading your team to bring more to the table.
This increased productivity and engagement will translate into your employees’ interactions with customers. It’s tangible when employees are happy and thriving in their jobs. Consumers will notice your employees’ commitment to the brand, and they will follow suit. Continuous learning in training is an Optimal customer service skill that is the cherry on top, keeping customers satisfied no matter what is thrown their way.
Boost Customer Impressions
Employees should be trained on what customers expect regularly. You can glean information on what customers want by gathering and analyzing data from your specific target audience. Use qualitative and quantitative data to figure out consumer behaviours and preferences. Then, incorporate that into training. This personalized approach enhances your connection with potential customers, showing you are listening to their needs and concerns.
Some current examples of areas for improvement based on customer expectations include:
- Social and environmental responsibility — Train employees on how to relay to customers the ethics of the company, including diversity and inclusion, eco-activism, person-first language, and more.
- Short attention spans and the need for instant gratification — Customer-facing employees likely already understand that people only have limited bandwidth when dealing with staff. Teach them how to deal with inquiries and transactions swiftly yet personably, catching the consumer’s attention within the first few seconds.
- Data privacy and security — Even if your organization isn’t in the tech sphere, you still likely use a website and process payments. Consumers are more aware than ever about how their information may be used. Train employees on how to explain privacy guidelines your company has in place in easily digestible terminology.
These are just a few examples of how customer service skills must change and adapt to the times. The better your employees are at understanding the needs of customers currently and predicting what they will need in the future, the better service they can provide. However, this shouldn’t take time away from actually interacting with those customers. For best results, incorporate continued education into your employees’ workflows by offering hands-on training that augments the areas of improvement listed above.
There are also simple ways to leave lasting impressions on consumers, such as:
- Free advice or time;
- Respect and genuine interest;
- A small gift;
- Attention to small details and preferences.
While these are customer service basics, it’s valuable to give employees a refresh now and then.
Teach Tech Skills
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is nothing new. However, not every customer service agent or customer-facing employee is going to automatically be adept at using tech. General tech training on the software you use as a company can be beneficial to all employees. You’ll facilitate cross-departmental collaboration more easily if everyone is on the same page.
Plus, using tech such as CRM software efficiently boosts customer support satisfaction. The better your employees are at navigating software or other tech applications, the quicker they can help customers get the results they desire. These systems can also give your service team a personalized look into customer insights, offering a better foundation to work off of when interacting with them.
Get Everyone Involved in Decision-Making
Just as everyone should be on the same page about using the right tech the right way, you should also include your team members in decision-making. They will feel more confident representing your brand to customers if they are involved in the goings-on behind the scenes. Plus, you are gaining first-hand insights from real customer interactions by incorporating their ideas into your decision-making process.
This direct involvement allows employees to contribute valuable perspectives, offer innovative solutions, and align company strategies with the realities of customer interactions. As a result, decisions about things like customer offers or internal training programs become more informed, customer-centric, and adaptable.
With all this regular training in place, it’s important to recognize your customer service team’s achievements. Acknowledging and celebrating their wins not only serves as positive reinforcement but also motivates them to engage in their professional development actively.
Highlight successful outcomes, whether that means improvements in customer satisfaction scores, resolution efficiency, or the acquisition of new skills through completing a course. This recognition can take various forms, from public appreciation in team meetings to personalized feedback sessions, certificates, or even advancement opportunities.
Such acknowledgement not only boosts morale but also reinforces the connection between individual growth and overall organizational success.
Create Growth Opportunities
A growth mindset should seep into how you structure post-training opportunities. To ensure your customer service employees capitalize on the continuous learning and training you now provide, seize the opportunity to create tangible growth paths within your organization. Even if it’s not already established, you should strive to create clear career progression frameworks that map out potential advancements based on acquired skills and demonstrated proficiency.
Encourage employees to set personal development goals and tie these objectives to advancement within the company. Offer mentorship programs, where seasoned employees can guide their peers through their career journey, fostering a supportive learning environment. Provide avenues for cross-departmental experiences or project involvement to broaden their skill sets and offer exposure to different facets of your business.
By actively promoting and communicating these growth opportunities, you retain top talent and inspire a sense of loyalty and dedication among your customer service team. This way, they will be more likely to view their ongoing learning as a stepping stone toward a rewarding and fulfilling career within your organization.