The Biggest Customer Service Training Mistake – Forbes

There is a mistake that many companies make when it comes to customer service training.
In the past month, I’ve been asked to write about the ROI on customer service training by three different publications. In one of the articles, I made a comment that resonated with many of the readers. There is a mistake that many companies make when it comes to customer service training. I’ll get that in a moment. For now, let me make the case for why it makes sense to invest in customer service.
Watermark Consulting tracked the 13-year stock market performance of customer experience leaders versus laggards between 2007 and 2019. The best customer-focused companies had gains of 307% while the S&P index showed a 199.6% return. These CX rockstars beat the index by more than 50%. And the customer experience laggards that were also tracked? Their numbers came in with less than half of the S&P, with just 90% gains in those 13 years.
If the numbers from the top customer experience leaders don’t do it for you, consider the stats from our customer service research. We surveyed more than 1,000 consumers about customer service, and here is what they said:
·        73% will go out of their way to do business with a company that provides better customer service.
·        79% said they would switch if they knew of another company that would deliver a better customer experience.
·        52% will pay more if they know they will receive great customer service. (That number is even higher if the company provides a convenient experience.)
·        75% are more likely to be loyal if the company or brand delivers a personalized customer experience.
I could give you more stats, but let’s summarize by simply stating: Customer service and CX create a competitive advantage that makes price less relevant!
Two major factors make up a winning customer experience.
1.      The overall experience. That is everything related to the entire experience, which can include how easy your website is to navigate, how easy it is to contact the company, the packaging of the product (if appropriate) and anything that the customer experiences as they do business with you.
2.      The customer service the customer experiences along the way. It can start in the sales process and continue well after the sale when customers need support, have complaints or need questions to be answered. It’s tied to any and all interactions they have with the company or brand.
By the way, I’ll argue that customer service is the most important part of the overall experience. If you go to a fancy restaurant with beautiful décor and the food tastes great, but the staff delivers an experience that you would refer to as horrible customer service, you’ll likely not come back. (Another stat: 83% of the consumers we surveyed said, “I am willing to switch brands/companies because of a bad customer service experience.”)
So, what is the secret to providing stellar customer service? Training!
Customer service training is the foundation for providing a great customer service experience. You can’t just tell people, “Give great customer service.” You must actually train them on how to do so, even if they are inherently nice, friendly people. And now for the big reveal:
That front line typically consists of salespeople and the team that provides customer support.
Customer service is more than a department. It’s more than people on the front line interacting with outside customers. The best companies recognize that customer service is baked into the culture and therefore they train everybody in the company.
If you track the interactions that the customer has with an organization, you’ll find there is plenty happening “behind the scenes,” where employees who never interact with a customer are impacting the experience. It may be someone in the warehouse who makes sure the order goes out on time, with nothing missing, and is packaged in a way to prevent it from being damaged. That employee is impacting the customer, yet never sees or talks to the customer.
You don’t need to train the behind-the-scenes employees the same way you train the front line. But they still need to be properly trained. Everyone must understand what the company’s goals are for providing customer service and how their role impacts those goals.
My dentist has a poster in his office. Even after seeing it for years, I always smile. It has a patient asking the dentist, “Which teeth should I floss?” The dentist says, “The ones you want to keep.”
Customer service training is the same. When you ask me, “Which employees should get customer service training?” I’ll respond, “Only the ones you want to help meet your goals in creating a great customer experience.” (Hint: That’s all of them!)