When your customers receive courteous treatment, prompt answers, and satisfactory solutions, they spread the word of their positive experience. Providing excellent customer service, therefore, means getting free publicity, encouraging repeat business, and attracting new customers. Of course, such service only comes from a superb team that has the right customer service training to meet customers’ needs.
To be successful, your team needs to be properly trained. Although you might be aware of this necessity, sometimes your financial situation may prevent you from making adequate investments. However, despite budgetary constraints, you can train your customer service team using some zero-cost techniques. The following five ways can help you provide excellent customer service training on a budget.
1. Provide Written Material
Tight budget means you cannot hire professionals to teach your team, but you can create some effective shortcuts. For example, you can make an effort to produce written material that documents the customer service policies and procedures for your company. At little cost other than time, putting things in writing can streamline your operation and standardize your training effort. Furthermore, you can revise and reuse your documents on an ongoing basis.
Write a guidebook that presents detailed information in a fun format to educate and engage your team members. Use other written materials such as customer service emails and closed support tickets to provide real-life scenarios for learning. You can also blend multiple cases to create robust hypothetical situations that can broaden their scope of knowledge.
2. Be a Role Model
Learning through observation is a reliable method of acquiring practical knowledge. Your team can learn a lot by watching you in action, so use your own skills to demonstrate the proper way to serve customers. For example, you can pay visits to your team while they are working, and use those opportunities to jump in and show them how to handle customers. Have an agent observe you while you talk to a customer over the phone or in person. Try to focus on everything – from giving explanations about products, to appeasing angry customers. In principle, each training session can focus on one aspect of customer service.
3. Encourage Teamwork
Unless you have a brand new company, your team will not only consist of new members. Of course, your most valuable asset will be your old employees who have mastered the craft of providing world-class customer service on all levels. So, what you can do is encourage experienced team members to take part in the training process by sharing their knowledge, demonstrating their tactics, and providing on-the-spot feedback to new agents as they handle customers. As team members interact, they can learn from each other and develop a sense of unity. A healthy working environment where everyone cooperates will certainly boost the performance of your employees – both old and new ones.
4. Engage in Conversations
In order to perform well, your employees need to feel well, so never underestimate the importance of their feelings. Talk to your agents to stay abreast of how they feel and what they think about different aspects of the job. Customer service can cause stress, especially during peak periods, so ensure that your team members know you care about them. By allowing them to express their opinions and exchange ideas, you will promote an atmosphere of trust that will reflect on their performance.
Therefore, you can use those conversations not only to boost employee morale but also to instruct them to be empathic. If you understand your employees’ feelings by placing yourself in their shoes and seeing things from their perspective, they are more likely to do the same with your customers.
5. Acknowledge Their Efforts
Appreciating the effort your employees are making and giving them adequate awards will inevitably increase their productivity. By simply acknowledging a job done well, you can encourage your team members to keep trying to provide top-notch customer support. For example, if you overhear agents handling calls well, give them a compliment. It will boost both their confidence and productivity.
Consider organizing a structured reward process to keep your team focused on excellence. For example, you can try an “Agent of the Week” program where best-performing agents receive accolades and a small token of appreciation. Who wouldn't want to achieve that?
If you train your customer service team to provide excellent service, your business will grow. To do that, you don’t need a lot of money – just some effort and creativity. Get started by documenting policies and procedures, demonstrating proper techniques, and developing comradery. Continue with listening and awarding your employees. Invest time, care, and appreciation in your agents and you will have a satisfied, motivated team willing to go the extra mile to serve your customers. Best of all, you can pull it all off on a tight budget.
Natalie Smith is a Settle-based freelance writer who passionately explores all things related to small business, start-ups, entrepreneurship, marketing, and customer service. You can reach her @Natalie Smith