Skip to Content
Skip to Content

4 essential steps for onboarding a new customer service representative

Training and development is an ongoing process for any employee but here are four actions a customer service manager should take to give new reps the best possible start.

Too often, new customer service representatives are left to figure out the ropes themselves and the bottom line suffers. But great customer service can’t happen without investment in great employee experience. 

Walk the rep to their desk or cubicle. Hand over a few scripts and perhaps a product manual if they’re lucky. Switch on their computer and point to a post-it with a username and password. Then leave them to it with the expectation they’ll deliver a golden customer service experience.

Yeah, no. That’s not how it works.

Imagine the experience for a customer needing help if the rep on the support line knows less about the product than they do. How likely is the customer to buy from the company again, considering that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services?

And how long is that rep likely to stay with a company that doesn’t value them enough to train them and help them develop? 

Of course, training and development is an ongoing process for any employee, and great customer experience (CX) doesn’t come without great employee experience, but the first day for customer service team members is especially important – they have to present themselves to customers with a high level of perceived competency on their first interaction to build and maintain trust. 

Here are four actions a customer service manager should take to give new reps the best possible start.

1. Put them in the customer seat so they know exactly what it feels like

Traditionally, training a new rep on a company’s products might have seemed laborious, given all the things they need to learn about feature sets and how to troubleshoot them. It will go a lot more smoothly (and you’ll engage them much more deeply) if you start instead by helping them understand more about your organisation’s purpose, mission and values. 

Ask members of your marketing team to walk through the most compelling campaign elements or messages that have resonated with your target market. Have them explain what kind of brand promise you’re making, because that’s ultimately what customers will be expecting reps to deliver on.

Ask a sales rep to share the kinds of needs customers have and what kind of service experience will help reduce customer churn.  

2. Make data their new best friend

Many experienced reps will be used to the idea of having their call times logged, but not all will understand the range of information gathering and analysis provided by new service platforms. 

A data-driven approach to service aggregates data from service interactions across the team to look for trends and patterns that allow the organisation to proactively solve problems and identify training or knowledge gaps. 

Consider opening up this part of the process to agents by encouraging them to brainstorm questions they might investigate based on the data available. Above all, help them make the connection between the data in the tools and whatever key performance indicators or metrics you use to move your company forward. 

Make it clear that using the data is not about identifying who has the shortest or longest calls – because realistically if your service team’s KPIs are still built around time-to-resolution instead of customer satisfaction, you’re missing a trick – but about continual improvement for everyone and for the team as a whole.

3. Help them provide omnichannel service

Just as you’d show a new rep where the bathroom and kitchen are, you need to show them the key locations that customers will interact with the company throughout their service journeys. 

While phone and email might still be one of the ways customers reach out, provide reps with a clear picture of other channels – social platforms, mobile apps, SMS, online communities and more. 

Customers have different expectations from service across these channels, so it’s important to understand why customers choose each channel.

4. Empower them to ask for help

New reps won’t absorb everything there is to know about your products and services on day one. Once they’re actively addressing questions and complaints, there are bound to be times when they need help. 

Training should include examples of where reps will need to escalate a particular issue to someone more senior, or who has developed expertise. The transitions have to be quick and seamless so customers don;t feel they are being passed around. 

Finally, discuss the role technology will play on the front lines of customer service experiences. If you already use or plan to use a chatbot, for instance, it will create a new dynamic – changing the range of issues a rep will tackle and what stage a customer interaction is at when the rep joins the conversation. 

Finally, commit to continuing discussion on these four points. Your new rep might eventually look back on their first day as the start of the best job they’ve ever had!

State of the Connected Customer

Insights from over 8,000 consumers and business buyers worldwide. Find out more about creating excellent customer service experiences

Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

More by Salesforce

Get the latest articles in your inbox.