How do you train your employees to handle customer service? Since 70% of the buying experience relies on how customers feel they’re being treated, customer service training is an important component in every business.
Most new employees get a dose of customer service training when they’re hired. It’s often part of an overall training course designed to familiarize the employee with the business and its customers.
However, there are aspects of customer service training that some businesses might be lacking. Here’s a look at four areas where your employees might need more training to maintain the top-notch service that you expect:
1. What to do about cell-phone addicted customers (and employees)
Ninety-two percent of Americans have some kind of cell phone, according to Pew Research. As more consumers become addicted to their phones, cell phone etiquette is now being called into question.
A growing number of consumers are using their phone while checking out, and it’s something that’s not usually covered during customer service training. Part of the reason is, businesses aren’t sure how to handle it.
Pew research shows just 24% of consumers believe using their cell phone while in line is rude. When you take a closer look at this statistic, you’ll see that the older generation finds the behavior more troublesome than millennials.
Whether you think it’s appropriate or not, cell phone users can cause problems at the registers. Being distracted causes the line to slow down. If employees have to take an order, or ask a question they’re sometimes ignored. So, how should you train employees to handle cell phone users?
Every business is different. Some have employees patiently wait with a smile until the customer gets the hint, others have taken a more aggressive approach and put signs up at the register that say, “No Cell Zone.” The first approach is likely the best.
The later, “No Cell Zone” approach may be more applicable for your own employees. If they’re at the cash register, counter, or on the floor where customers can see them, implement a no phone zone policy. You don’t want to forbid use entirely, as employees may resent the restrictions. Give them a space in the back where it’s safe to check their phones, but just clarify that certain areas should be reserved for providing the best possible customer service and attentiveness.
2. What to do when stumped by a customer’s question or a new program
Sixty-seven percent of consumers notice when an employee lacks knowledge, and it can damage your customer service.
Most of the time, basic employee training provides enough information for your staff to answer questions like a pro. However, there could come a time when a new employee doesn’t remember an answer, or a customer asks a unique question that hasn’t come up in the past.
When an employee doesn’t have an answer, he or she should say so and make immediate efforts to find the answer by asking a supervisor for help. If a supervisor can’t be reached, the employee should get the customer’s name and number so they can follow up with the answer later on.
Changing your point of sale, joining a delivery service, or implementing a new loyalty program? Conduct thorough, additional training for every employee whenever you introduce a new tool or program to the mix. This will ensure employees are well-versed, and can move customers through the line with ease. If the program or tool has a support line, keep it within reach so an employee can fix issues quickly.
3. What to do when customers overwhelm you
Most businesses have enough staff to handle customer traffic gracefully, but there will come a time or two when an employee is bombarded by the needs of customers. During the holiday rush, for example, when the store is flooded with people; or when two employees have called in sick leaving more tasks for those on the sales floor.
You want employees to handle the chaos in a way that doesn’t hurt customer service, so what’s an employee to do?
Give employees a short priority list. Maybe the list is to cover the register and handle sales first, and field questions second. Employees should make every effort to acknowledge a waiting customer with the understanding that they take care of the customer in front of them first.
4. What to do with an irate customer
Customer service training often emphasizes “service with a smile” and encourages employees to stay calm even when customers lose their cool. While this is usually included in employee training, it’s sometimes glossed over and it shouldn’t be.
Your employees should be taught how to handle these situations through role-play. Have a supervisor play the role of an upset customer and have an employee work through a series of steps to resolve the issue.
Steps might include listening to the problem without interrupting, actively sympathizing, apologizing and providing a solution. The strategy should also specify when to involve a supervisor, or alert security, if needed.
These four aspects of customer service can be overlooked, and are just a few components that business owners could weave into a customer service refresher course. Getting employees together once a year to review customer service polices and procedures is a good way to keep skills sharp.