9 Customer Service Training Ideas to Inspire Your Team

Learn the tips and best practices to upskill your team

January 2021 - 6.5 minutes

Think about your best customer service experience. It probably looks something like this: The customer service agent was empathic to your concerns. They were friendly and only asked for your information once. They resolved your issue promptly and left you with a positive impression of the company.

Do your customer service agents have the skills they need to deliver this kind of experience? If you feel like there are opportunities for improvement, consider these nine customer service training ideas to ensure your agents meet expectations every time.

1. Start customer service training immediately

Begin customer service training on day one. Doing so signals to new agents what your company values most and highlights your commitment to service. It also helps new employees figure out if a customer service role is a right fit for them early on or if they are better suited for another department.

2. Role-play to step into your customers’ shoes

Great service and empathy go hand-in-hand. Empathetic people naturally want to help others because they understand how frustrating certain problems can be. By being empathetic, agents internalize the customer’s situation and experience emotions from their perspective, so they are better equipped to help them.

Role-playing exercises can teach empathy. Have your trainees practice sensitive customer service interactions from the side of the organization and the customer.

Train them to use positive words and phrases in every interaction. Positive language keeps the conversation upbeat and reframes problems into opportunities. Have employees practice the phrases in the cheat sheet below.

3. Add improv to the customer service training mix

Unanticipated situations are inevitable. Use games during customer service training to help your agents learn how to respond to events outside the norm.

Improvisation is a go-to in acting classes and other communication-based training scenarios because it encourages participants to come up with creative solutions on-the-fly. These games teach service agents to respond, “Yes, and...” to any new idea. Improvisation encourages agents to avoid saying “no” and instead think of creative ways to help customers, rather than focus on restrictions.

Use these tips as you build improv into your training program:

 
1. Listen closely.
Acknowledge and incorporate the customers’ words positively into your conversation.
 
2. Ask focused questions.
Avoid making the customer do too much work. Have customer history and information in front of you to resolve cases quickly. You can do this from a single console.
 
3. Keep it professional.
There’s no need to entertain your customer unless it happens naturally. Remember, your primary goal is to help.
 
4. Make the other person feel good.
When you help your customer feel better, you improve the overall customer experience.
 
5. Tell a complete story.
When a customer contacts your company, do everything you can to resolve the issue in one interaction. Don’t leave the customer with a cliffhanger.

4. Encourage cross-team and intra-team collaboration

Another key customer service training idea is to include other departments in your program. This is because customer service employees often interact with representatives from other divisions to fulfill customer requests. Agents with a better understanding of how other areas of your business function have an easier time navigating them when the need arises. Similarly, employees in other departments benefit from understanding your customer service team to uncover opportunities for agents to cross-sell or upsell while assisting customers.

Establish camaraderie within your customer service team, too. During training, group new and experienced agents into pods based on experience or skill set. Challenge them with complex problems so they can learn from each other. A team member can document the resolution in a knowledge base article for future reference. Encourage your service agents to send appreciation, give shout-outs, and check-in with each other to keep morale high throughout training.

These relationships will prove important during real-time customer interactions. For example, if a retailer hasn’t shipped a product, they can reach out to an agent who knows everything about that retailer or an employee in the shipping department they met during their training.

5. Demonstrate how technology can help

Your agents will rely on your service console for everything, so make sure they have what they need in one place. One of the best ways to do this is by connecting systems and breaking down silos across your organization — from marketing to sales to service — to get a 360-degree view of your customer.

Agents are empowered with the customer information they need, from service history to communications preferences, to deliver personalized experiences. At the same time, automated workflows guide agents through processes to resolve cases faster, and artificial intelligence (AI) recommends actions based on customer data.

Ensure everyone knows how to use your technology. Try digital learning resources that walk agents through different steps, processes, and configurations.

6. Teach stress-reduction techniques

Your agents are sure to encounter upset customers and other situations that increase their stress levels.

To relieve stress, take a cue from Salesforce’s five pillars of wellbeing: nourish, revive, move, thrive, and prosper. Offer wellness resources, like healthy recipes and good sleep suggestions, that address these goals. Activities such as yoga, meditation, and even stream-of-consciousness writing can help agents manage stress. Help them learn how to be more mindful of the big picture even during uncomfortable situations.

Regularly check in with agents with a quick “hello” via chat. Have an open-door policy (even virtually) should they ever need to talk. And support and encourage team members with shout-outs in email or on your enterprise social network.

10 Relaxation Techniques

 
 
 
 
 
 
Decompress, relax, and massage away tension
 
 
 
 

7. Make customer service everyone’s responsibility

Whether they work directly with customers or not, everyone affects the customer experience in some way.

Think up customer service training ideas for your company’s entire staff. Include members of the senior leadership team. Remember that those who don’t interact with customers still indicate their expectations for service in the way they serve their colleagues.

8. Provide continuous learning and growth opportunities

Many incredible resources — articles, books, even entire university courses — are available online to read or view for free. Salesforce offers free online training modules on customer service themes, such as how to solve customer service issues, through Trailhead. Learn about the best customer service training ideas and then implement them with your team.

9. Win back lost customers

One often-overlooked customer service training idea? How to uncover opportunities to win back customers who have stopped doing business with you or left for a competitor. When you address gaps in the customer experience, it improves your relationship with these customers and leaves them even more satisfied than before.

Transform service with well-trained agents

Now that you have the basics, continue learning with the tips in What You Need to Know About Customer Service Training. With these customer service training ideas in mind, you’ll ensure exceptional customer service that meets and exceeds expectations. Customers will stay loyal to your brand while agents feel empowered in every interaction.

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