Training for Customer Service (2)
Customer service is one of the hot training topics for the 80s and 90s. Service excellence, and the particular ‘package’ of services offered to customers, are often the most important differentiating factor between competitor organizations. So how should your organization be training to make your service better than the rest?
Customer service is an area in which DBA has considerable training experience. In a previous issue of Tips and Tools (September 1997) we put forward some reasons for why many customer service programmes fail to make a difference. In this issue we will be balancing this with some ideas for programmes which do make an impact on organization-wide service standards and attitudes.
What customer service programmes should aim to achieve and deliver
Research among organizations which score highly on customer service shows that their customer service strategies share ten key characteristics. Using the principle of benchmarking it makes sense, therefore, that customer service training should aim to communicate these ten characteristics on to staff and managers, in the way they think about customer service.
This leads us to ten core messages which need to be incorporated into customer service training, and which are as follows:
Planning what training is required
In our September 1997 issue of Tips and Tools we asserted that, in order to avoid failure, customer service programmes need to take an integrated, whole-organization view of customer service. This clearly requires different types of training activity at various levels throughout the organization, starting at the top.
The model below provides a quick overview of the various stages involved, and the key training issues to be addressed at each stage:
Board level commitment and involvement
Those at board level would not need to have a detailed understanding of front line customer service, nor or the skills involved in working with customers to identify their specific problems and needs. However, they would need an understanding of their role, in championing customer service. And they would need an understanding of how their own attitudes to staff may have considerable impact on staff’s service attitudes at the front line and with colleagues.
A Senior Management team which does not listen to its staff’s views on service and which makes no effort to moderate its own behaviours in dealings with internal customers cannot expect to achieve the level of commitment which service excellence requires. Customer service is a whole-organization effort which requires clear and visible leadership from the top. Trainers must make every effort to ensure that this message is clearly received and understood, and positively acted on by those with the power to influence others within their organization. Without their support, customer service programmes have limited chances of real success.