Skip to Content

What Your Customer Service Rep Should Do On Their First Day

What Your Customer Service Rep Should Do On Their First Day

Think of this as a checklist you or your customer service manager can use to offer new reps the best possible start with your company.

Show the rep to their desk or cubicle. Toss them some scripts and some product manuals. Turn on their computer and provide them a username and password. Then walk away and just let the customer service magic unfold.

No, it doesn’t happen like that. Not at all.

Many organizations have learned —sometimes the hard way — that failing to adequately prepare customer service reps from day one can do a lot to damage both their brand name and their bottom line.

Think of when customers can’t get the product they bought to work and are in a hurry, for example. If they call into a call centre and it feels like a rep is as new to the product as they are, what kind of impression will that leave? How likely is the customer to buy from the company again?

Another question to ask might be, “And how long is that rep likely to stay?”

Companies sometimes skimp on training and onboarding customer service reps because it’s seen as a cost. There’s the time spent, of course, and the fact that managers have to step away from some of their other day-to-day duties in order to help get a rep set up. There can also be an investment required in terms of training courses and other tools that become part of a more rigorous onboarding process.

Those costs often pale in comparison, however, with the time and other resources that wind up going into replacing customer service reps. When the upfront work is done well, on the other hand, reps might feel more motivated to continue with a particular firm, because they might have opportunities to move up as well as a greater sense of fulfillment as their expertise in a particular product set grows.

Of course, training and development is an ongoing process for any employee, but the first day for customer service team members is especially important. That’s because they have to present themselves to customers with a higher level of perceived competency from the very beginning. That helps maintain whatever trust the company has already developed with that customer — and in the best service interactions, reinforces or even builds upon it.

Think of this as a checklist you or your customer service manager can use to offer new reps the best possible start with your company:

1. Expose them to a mock marketing campaign, designed just for them

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 organization’s purpose, mission and values.

If you can get buy-in from other departments, for instance, have members of your marketing team walk through some of the most compelling campaign elements — it could be an ad, an eBook or a video — that has proven to resonate 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 when they reach out.

See if a sales team member might join in, articulating the kinds of needs customers have and what kind of service experience will help reduce customer churn.

2. Demonstrate the difference data will make

Many experienced reps will be used to the idea of having their call times logged, but not necessarily the kind of information gathering and analysis that firms can do using tools like Service Cloud.

Here’s the thing, though: training and onboarding isn’t just about teaching reps what buttons to press, but cultivating a data-driven attitude to the way they’ll do their jobs. This includes using technology to ensure they won’t have to waste customers’ time by having them go over all their account details, and instead dive right into addressing questions and complaints. It also includes an overview of how data will be aggregated from service interactions across the team to look for trends and patterns that allow the organization to be more proactive.

Consider opening up this part of the process by encouraging them to brainstorm questions they might investigate based on the data they’ll be using. 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.

3. Point out the paths they might take

Of course you’ll want to show a new rep where the washroom is, as well as the office kitchen and other key locations around the company. However you need to do something similar in terms of the journeys they’ll take alongside customers.

While call centres might still be one of the ways customers reach out, provide reps with a clear picture of the other channels that seem to be emerging. This could include email as well as social media and more.

In some cases the expectations customers have when they use these channels will be different, as reps might also need to understand when it makes sense to encourage customers to shift from one channel to another (like when a product issue that comes through on social might be best explained over the phone, for instance).

4. Talk about what true teamwork in customer service means today

Even if they have photographic memories, new reps are not going to be able to absorb everything there is to know about your firm’s products and services on day one. Once they’re actively addressing questions and complaints, there are bound to be times when they need help.

Any training you do should include examples of where reps will need to escalate a particular issue to someone more senior, or who has developed a particularly high level of expertise in some area. The transitions have to be quick and seamless to customers, who might be wary of being passed around.

Finally, discuss the role technology will play on the front lines of customer service experiences. If your firm is already using or planning to use a chatbot, for instance, it will create a fresh new dynamic in terms of the issues a rep will tackle.

Map out what these workflows look like — along with a commitment to continuing these conversations —and your rep might eventually look back on their first day as the start of the best job they’ve ever had.

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.