Cost effective customer service training
Customer service training provision is often preceded by a lot of change in organizations. It’s a common situation. You have introduced a new IT system to streamline your operations. You have restructured to be as cost efficient as possible. You have implemented LEAN or other process based efficiency analysis strategies. Next step… customer service training.
Many of us have seen the reduction of structured and strategic training decline over the last 10 years. The goal was sensible. Reduce centralised overhead costs. stop doing things that did not add measurable value. Put training close to where it is required. With line managers. Use your line managers as coaches.
This all seems logical and progressive. So why does it not work?
Often coaching training for manager is delivered with too many corners cut. In the cut and thrust of “the day job” training is just another task on the managers list. And as training is slower than “doing the job yourself” we know where the priority for this activity falls.
Then the penny drops – what is needed is strategically aligned training.
Solve the problem by setting up a training function or department
A training function is set up. There is a fine balance of maintaining line ownership for development, along with providing a strategic consistency across the business.
The “trick” is to ensure that the training function is “owned” by operations. That operations have a say in how training is aligned to the business. That any training is seen as value added.
When compromise is the only strategy
Having global standards for the way people relate to customers is key. The real success of the likes of McDonalds and dozens of other global franchises is not the quality of the product. But the consistency of the product and service given. We know what we are going to get.
No one goes to McDonalds for a gourmet burger. Its not the cheapest burger available, but we know exactly what it is we are going to get. And that is why the brand, and others like it are so successful. Over the years some of the products have changed. but the focus on consistency and service have not.
So what contributes to consistent customer service training?
The bad news is that there is no magic template to follow. But there are some effective guiding principles.
Having clear and well defined and PROVEN business processes. These processes are described in simple steps, showing not just how but WHY this way.
An agreed set of values are defined.
- Key Performance Indicators are defined for levels of service
- Standard Operating Procedures are easy to understand.
- Manager and other local champions have comprehensive “train the trainer” and coaching training
- That as much training is delivered locally. Often on-the-job
- That regular updates and support is provided to managers, trainers and coaches.
- Non interactive e-learning is kept to a minimum
- Good practice is shared on Social channels, this builds ownership and commitment
- Motivation and engagement of trainers and coaches is maintained.
- Measures of the effectiveness of training are made, reported and compared regularly.
Evaluation of customer service training
A lot has been published about the evaluation of training. Much of this is academic and misses the point in a modern, busy business. Training evaluation is not a separate measure or activity. Customer service training evaluation is in simple terms the productivity return (or alignment or standards) for the time and money invested. The ONLY way to measure this, is to look at the IDENTIFIED NEED in the first place.
What is the “cost” to the business of continuing in the current way as opposed to the desired or required way?
If the training CHANGES the way things are done. Then the training is VALID.
Key performance indicators are by far the simplest evaluation. Before training x% of transactions were outside of KPI.
Then track the x delta. If the training is effective the KPI will improve.
Reporting on factors like this is the only effective way to align training to the business. Just looking at the cost is folly.
Customer Service Training should be the priority of every business. It needs to be owned by the business and add value at every step.
See our Customer care training packs – great for induction and people new to work!