Individualised training ensures that your organisation and its goals are clearly represented through every stage of the training. From top tier management down to the frontline, it is vital that everyone is on the same page and that business processes, procedures and protocols all reflect customers as the heart of the business. Therefore, programs must be tailored to encompass all levels of staffing and all aspects of business.
After in depth consultation at all levels, it is then possible to take best practice from tried and trusted methods that will specifically address relevant aspects of the individual organisation. For example, a contact centre would have little need for face-to-face training for customer service, while a front-facing company may still require telephone based training. Thus it is vital that training packages represent the goals and culture of each individual business.
Additionally, HQ management will require slightly different aspects of training to frontline managers and the exec team will have different needs to the frontline staff. This distinction is important and any training package should reflect the differing needs of the staff as well as the business.
Benefits for individuals can include a number of issues from an increased confidence in a position to increased job satisfaction which in turn will lead to increased productivity. Most people enjoy their work more when they feel they are successful at it and are only fulfilled when they feel equipped to deal with the day-to-day realities of their working life. It is a sad fact that, throughout the UK, a large majority of customer service and sales staff do not have adequate training to handle situations that are considered to be outside of their 'normal' interactions. This lack of support and awareness leads to, not only an unpleasant customer journey, but also an unpleasant staff journey as no one wants to feel as though they have failed at their job. Additionally, the provision of adequate and robust training will make staff members feel valued and cut down on wasted time dealing with situations that have escalated due to lack of understanding.
This is where in depth communication training can be invaluable. Many sales are lost each day in the UK due to lack of clear communication and incorrect assumptions made by both staff members and customers. It is important that staff do not assume that they know what customers require, though it is a human instinct to jump in and help when we feel that someone isn't explaining themselves adequately.
Customer look to 'experts' to assist and on more than one occasion it has been noted that people have left a business without exactly what they wanted - though they may have gotten something else they required. Staff are generally pleased when they feel they have helped a customer meet their needs and often forget to follow through and therefore miss opportunities for additional sales and opportunities to further cement relationships.
Happy, productive staff members are but one cornerstone of a successful enterprise. Benefits for businesses themselves are many fold and, in order to succeed in the business climate of today, it is vital that customer focus be a core part of an organisation's ethos. Measurable tools that staff can be performance-managed around are vital to this success. Performance management should involve a toolkit whereby customer service is rewarded and poor transactions are learned from. This will give staff a target to strive for and provide customers with a route map from which to manage their expectations.
By having customer services as your focus, you will immediately begin to notice benefits to your business on a number of fronts. Immediate benefits will obviously include increased sales and, therefore, turnover and increased profit margins. This can lead to the ability to diversify and expand which, in today's market, is one of the main pathways to ensuring longevity. Additional and less immediate benefits include the long term gain of repeat business. Repeat business is absolutely vital if you want your company to succeed. A sale made today is great but a sale made today that will lead to several more sales over a number of years is money in the bank that can be relied upon.
It is a truism that when someone has a good experience with a business they are likely to recommend you to two or three friends. Likewise, it is true that if they have a poor experience, they are likely to mention that experience to ten or more of their acquaintances. Negative word of mouth can be just as, if not more, powerful than bad press, as no one is likely to go to a company that they have heard their friends complain about.
And, with the advent of the internet, word of mouth now goes much further than an individual's circle of friends. Most people today will not contemplate a larger purchase without first searching for company and/or product reviews on the internet. Positive reviews on a product can make all the difference between deciding whether to make a purchase and positive comments about customer service experience will make people take a chance on a new product and /or company. From positive reviews they will know that if they are not satisfied they will be able to seek support from the organisation and therefore feel safer trying out a new business.
A positive customer service reputation is within your business' grasp - all it takes is some initiative and the right program and you will see what a difference this can make to your business.
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Michiel Van Kets writes articles about The Stairway Consultancy, focusing on customer services training and customer care training. The Stairway has a proven track record of delivering management development programmes that have a long lasting impact. Find out about training in customer service.
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