Customer Service: Train Employees to Focus on Customers
Whether they’re interacting with a customer on the phone or designing the layout of your next catalog, your employees are your company’s mouthpiece. And training employees company-wide to be customer focused at all times can have a big impact on how your customers perceive your brand, writes Craig Cochran, author of “Becoming a Customer-Focused Organization” (Paton Press). Cochran identifies five staff-training tactics that drive customer focus and long-term success.
1. Impart your catalog’s mission and strategy. The core reason for any organization’s existence is to serve its customers, and employees must understand this in no uncertain terms, notes Cochran. He recommends this message be reinforced by the highest levels of management in all training sessions. While your employees don’t need to know the whole of your business strategy, they should understand their roles in keeping customers happy.
2. Stress the importance of a professional attitude. Professionalism has become increasingly rare, and employees who deal with customers in a disinterested way are among a company’s greatest liabilities, writes the author. Provide explicit guidelines for employee behavior toward customers and then enforce those rules, he notes.
3. Teach employees how to handle customer complaints. “Even in the best organizations, customers sometimes complain, but this fact isn’t nearly as important as how the organization deals with the complaints,” writes Cochran. He suggests that all employees who interact with customers be trained on the following topics: how to record a complaint; what details to ask for; where the complaint record should be kept; and how to empathize with the customer in an appropriate manner.
4. Promote effective communication. “When employees can’t communicate clearly, problems are bound to happen. Customer requirements are lost; messages are muddled; information is misinterpreted; and people inevitably get angry,” notes the author. Listening skills should be taught so customer service reps (CSRs) understand customers’ needs. Stress proper use of the English language, and provide your CSRs with clear guidelines for what language to avoid, such as slang, profanity and off-color humor, he writes.