You must learn to walk before you can run.
Getting new customer service reps up to speed takes time, especially if they haven’t worked directly with clients in the past. Training new reps is a process that shouldn’t be rushed. They need to walk through customer service training activities before they can help customers run across the finish line by resolving their problems.
Why can’t new reps just be thrown into the fire?
Well, because they wouldn’t be effective or efficient. They need to learn the ropes before they can be expected to resolve complex problems for customers.
Want proof? According to research from ThinkHDI, time in training directly correlates with first contact resolution. In other words, the more time new reps spend in training, the more efficient and effective they will be.
So, it’s worthwhile to train reps thoroughly during the onboarding process. But what exactly should they do during training?
Here are 10 customer service training activities new reps should perform in order to get prepared for real interactions with real customers.
1. Carefully read through past tickets.
It’s important to get to know the tone other reps use in communications with customers. The only way to recognize such linguistic nuances is to actually read through past conversations word for word. New reps should look at cases handled by various reps and a range of customers to get a holistic understanding of the voice of the team.
2. Dive into external documentation.
If your website has a service, support, or help section, then everyone on your team should know it inside and out, including new reps. It’s also useful for new reps to learn how to solve frequently asked questions so they get a sense of the problems customers are dealing with.
3. Read any relevant internal documents.
Do you have any documents outlining workflows or other processes? If so, make sure your new reps have access to these documents and read them carefully. This will help get them on the same page as the rest of your team.
4. Set measurable goals.
Start with your SLA. Everyone on your team – even new reps – needs to hit your first response time SLA and any other SLAs you might have. Then, think about what other customer service metrics matter to you and create realistic goals for new reps.
5. Get to know the product.
New reps won’t be able to help customers resolve their problems if they don’t know how your product (or service) works. They don’t need to know the product inside and out like a product marketer, but they should know how to navigate sufficiently. Acquiring product knowledge might involve watching a demo, using the product themselves, and maybe even giving a mock demo once they’re comfortable with it.
6. Watch customer service videos.
Lighten the mood by watching funny videos of customer service scenes in movies and TV shows. Ease new reps into their new roles by watching short training videos and speeches from industry thought leaders.
7. Shadow other service reps.
Let experienced reps show the rookies how it’s done. Chances are, they’ll have some tips and tricks that will help the new reps get off on the right foot. This also encourages teamwork and sets the precedent of working together to achieve a common goal.
8. Shadow people in other departments.
Your new reps will have a better understanding of the goals of the entire company if they have the chance to see what it’s like to work in other departments. It can be especially useful to shadow employees working with customers in different respects, like sales reps and advocate marketers.
9. Play games.
Starting a new job is stressful. Take the pressure off a little bit by playing relevant games that simultaneously help them develop customer service skills. Playing games like Hot Potato and Never Say Never can challenge your new reps to think on their feet and think critically about their new roles. And if you really want to have fun, check out The Big Book of Customer Service Training Games.
10. Hangout with fellow service reps.
Grabbing a meal and/or a drink with current members of your team will facilitate building rapport. Make sure your new reps feel welcome and give them the chance to get to know your reps as people, not just co-workers.
The training process is critical for developing customer service skills as a new rep. The first week or two on the job is the time to drink from a firehose and absorb as much information as possible. But by the end of the training period, your new reps should feel confident in themselves and excited to start talking to customers.
Organizing productive customer service training activities will help your new team members get acclimated quickly. And before you know it, they’ll be turning customers into promoters.
What customer service training activities have worked well for you? Share your insights in the comments section below.