How to Train Your Customer Service Staff

Updated: Dec 28, 2019

Customer service staff training in cubicles

The onboarding process of your new customer support staff can be similar to training new athletes on a sports team. In both fields, it takes time and constant practice to gain the skills necessary to perform at an optimal level and to develop the cohesion to work well as a team. Using the right tools can help make the process easier: performance analysis apps provide useful statistics for athletes, just as your help desk software can for support agents. Lessons gained from sports could also be applied to the workplace, particularly in a customer service setting. We found ten quotes from some of sports’ greats that you can use to turn your trainees into independent, confident, and positive customer care experts. Have a look at the best customer service training tips, from the pros:

Nail the basics: develop a thorough knowledge of your products and services

"First master the fundamentals." - Larry Bird, 3-time NBA champion

It’s a fact: your customers expect your support staff to know your products inside out. So when creating your training plan, make sure your new personnel have ample opportunity to use them and learn about all of their intricacies. This will give them not only the expertise but also the self-assurance and authority to walk your clients through support issues. And if they end up having a keen appreciation of your products, this can even turn them into brand ambassadors.

Train your staff to harness the power of your knowledge base

“Innovation involves anticipation. It is having a broad base of knowledge on your subject and an ability to see where the end game is headed. Use all your knowledge to get there first.” - Bill Walsh, football coach, 3-time Super Bowl winner

A knowledge base is an effective tool not only for your customers, but also for your support staff. It can help these employees find information within seconds so that they can provide your clients with quick and high quality answers. They could also use your knowledge base articles to supplement their responses on social media or by email. Furthermore, they could gain insight into which issues your clients usually search for, allowing them to anticipate their needs. So give your new hires enough time to learn how to use your knowledge base: how to navigate it, find the right information, and use it to assist customers.

A physical knowledge base

Instill empathy and compassion for your customers

“If you’re speaking with a knowledgeable, caring, loving, passionate voice, then you can give the people of America and all over the world hope.” - LeBron James, 3-time NBA champion

Not everyone is an expert at using your product or is able to fix issues easily on their own, but an understanding agent can at least help make the process easier. Encourage your staff to listen actively and be sensitive not only to customers’ words but also to their tone, writing style or use of emojis. Teach them how to ask thoughtful questions and how to respond with compassion. This can be done through activities such as role plays or empathy exercises. A list of friendly customer service phrases can also be helpful, though these don’t have to be said verbatim each time. At the end of the day, your customers will remember how your agents made them feel, so make cultivating genuine and sincere interaction an essential part of your training program.

Make finding solutions a mindset

"I never worry about the problem. I worry about the solution." - Shaquille O'Neal, 4-time NBA champion

Your customers reach out to your support team because they need answers. They don't appreciate being passed from department to department, or waiting around to receive a proper response. Your agents, therefore, need to be adept sleuths and problem solvers. Train them how to break down and analyze issues effectively by listening to the customer, asking the right questions, identifying potential solutions, and communicating the best one in a precise and accurate manner. And in the event that your agents can't find an appropriate answer by themselves, make it clear who they need to approach in order to find it so they don't get stuck and unable to provide a response. Just as the main goal in basketball is to get that ball in the hoop, the aim of customer service is to give clients the right solution.