How To Implement Effective Customer Service Training

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According to the Salesforce study State of the Connected Customer, 91% of customers would be more likely to make another purchase from a business following a top-notch customer service experience. This data underscores how important it is for companies to invest in delivering high-quality, consistent customer service. To make excellent service part of your company’s reputation, start by investing in proper customer service training.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the skills you and your team need to create satisfying customer service experiences.

What is customer service training?

Customer service training is the education either regular employees or members of a specialized customer service team receive to learn how to deliver support effectively and efficiently. Proper training helps employees address customer questions, concerns, and complaints over the phone or through digital ecommerce platforms and chat apps.

Customer service training refers to the initial onboarding and upskilling (or learning new skills) of employees, as well as the ongoing teaching of customer service workers throughout their careers.

What are the benefits of customer service training?

Having a team of employees well-trained in the art of customer relations is beneficial in many ways, from increased customer engagement to improved sales. Key benefits include:

  • Customer engagement. Businesses use a variety of strategies to increase customer engagement, from social media campaigns to loyalty programs. Training employees to have empathy, strong listening and communication skills, and problem-solving abilities (among other people-forward skills) shows the human side of a business. This can increase business-customer interaction times, reducing the likelihood of customer churn (the loss of an existing customer). 
  • Customer retention. An excellent customer support team can influence whether customers stay and make repeat buys. Customers appreciate a business that is responsive and attentive to their concerns—and the reward is loyalty. In fact, 61% of customers said they would switch to a competitor if they had a single poor customer service experience, according to a 2022 Zendesk customer experience trends report
  • Increased sales. Customer service is the “new sales engine,” according to a 2018 Forbes article. A company that offers strong, personalized customer support is more likely to provide a positive buying experience, and in turn, see a bump in sales. 
  • Brand strengthening. At the heart of a strong brand is consistent service. High-quality, personalized customer care gets great PR by way of positive online reviews, chatter in discussion forums, and social media posts. By building a reputation for good customer care, companies increase customer loyalty to the brand, which translates into increased sales, potential growth, and long-term operational sustainability.

Three key components of customer service training

  1. Communication
  2. Problem solving 
  3. Conflict resolution

Many aspects of customer service are based on soft skills—interpersonal attributes including patience, listening, and clear communication—that help make a person more relatable and easier to interact with. Ideally, training focuses on building the following skills:

1. Communication

The basis of any effective customer service strategy is the ability to actively participate in the communication process to show that you are engaged in a positive way. This includes processing your thoughts and presenting them in a clear, concise manner—whether by phone or in writing through email or a messaging service. Key to a productive exchange is the ability to listen and reflect back on what you are hearing, ultimately putting yourself in the customer’s shoes to show understanding and empathy.

2. Problem solving

Oftentimes, customers reach out to customer support teams to resolve a problem. While some problems are more basic issues like product returns or exchanges, others are more complex, such as a communication conflict between an employee and a customer. Through training programs, customer service employees learn how to think outside the box or come up with creative solutions to address unmet customer expectations. Doing so can result in more satisfied customers, which in turn leads to repeat business and glowing reviews.

3. Conflict resolution

When dealing with customer complaints, it’s important to de-escalate the situation through conflict resolution strategies to get to an agreeable solution. A goal of customer service is to identify the issue through empathy, emotional intelligence (understanding and managing various emotions), and active listening (demonstrating that you understand the customer’s perspective). From there, you can find a way to resolve the dispute to the customer’s satisfaction.

How to implement a customer service training course for your employees

  1. Determine whether you want to go in-house or purchase a course
  2. Discuss with your current customer service team
  3. Choose a training course
  4. Onboard with care
  5. Ask for feedback

There are many approaches to training your employees in essential customer service skills. Consider the following steps before setting up a customer service training course so your employees are better equipped to improve your ecommerce customers’ experiences.

1. Determine whether you want to go in-house or purchase a course

Decide if you want to outsource your training program or build one within the company by setting up your own PowerPoints and video lessons. Both options have their advantages. Outsourced courses will generally be cheaper and simpler to implement. If you choose to opt for an in-house program, however, you can more easily tailor the course to your business’s needs or specific industry.

2. Discuss with your current customer service team

If a customer service team is already in place, talk to them about the types of skills or knowledge expected from new hires stepping into these roles. Lean on their experience, as they can anticipate what customers will ask and how to respond. You could either integrate that feedback into your in-house training program or prioritize them when you search for a premade course.

3. Choose a training course 

There are a variety of options when it comes to picking customer service training courses. They’re advertised on sites like LinkedIn or through specialized companies such as Axelos. Some are meant for large, multinational corporations, while others cater to small ecommerce businesses. Besides finding a single course or program suitable for your business type, consider the cost, the amount of time it will take to complete, and the number of trainees it can accommodate. The courses included in a customer service training program typically tackle skills such as communication, professionalism, and navigating various digital customer service platforms.

4. Onboard with care

If you don’t already have a dedicated team of customer service reps in place, or if you’re a newcomer to implementing this type of training, consider putting employees through the training course slowly. Measuring training successes through tangible metrics, like the time it takes to resolve a problem, can help you figure out what does—and doesn’t—work. Building a memorable ecommerce customer experience that you monitor through data will go a long way in ensuring the efficacy and sustainability of your business.

5. Ask for feedback

This applies to both the employees completing the trainings and the customers being serviced. Many ecommerce sites collect feedback about the level of service provided via customer-service-based chat apps or customer satisfaction surveys. You can incorporate this information into future training materials, improving the success rate of new customer service representatives.

How to measure the impact of a customer service training course

There are metrics you can use when determining the effectiveness of your customer service training. Key performance indicators (KPI) include:

  • Average resolution time (ART). This is a type of key performance indicator (KPI) for ecommerce companies that gives the typical amount of time it takes to solve a customer’s issue or complaint. This is a key measure of how well your customer service team is operating. If you measure this KPI before and after your support team received training, it can help determine whether or not that training was effective.
  • Net promoter score (NPS). NPS is the measure of how likely a customer is to return to—or recommend—your company. If your NPS increases following a customer service training course, that’s a good indication you implemented effective customer service training.
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT). The CSAT KPI calculates customers’ happiness with goods or services provided through key questions. A typical example is: “On a scale of very unsatisfied to very satisfied, how satisfied are you with our product?” This general metric can help you assess how well you’re doing as a business and can change based on good customer service training.
  • First call resolution (FCR). A more specialized measure, FCR tracks how many customer service queries are resolved during the first ask, rather than being escalated or revisited multiple times. FCR helps measure the effectiveness of your customer service and, by extension, your customer service training.

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Customer service training FAQ

How can customer service training ideas be delivered to employees?

Most customer service training programs come in the form of online courses lasting anywhere from an hour to several days. Training can also be performed in person by qualified teachers. However, this approach is less common, particularly for ecommerce businesses.

How often should customer service training be conducted?

Customer service training should be conducted regularly—particularly for businesses with higher employee turnover. The frequency of your training sessions can also be metric-based. A low customer satisfaction score (CSAT) or net promoter score (NPS) could prompt your business to engage in a training.

What role does technology play in customer service training?

Customer service training is often conducted online or through digital software. Live chat apps are a critical part of the communication and feedback component of great customer service.

How can the effectiveness of customer service training be evaluated?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average resolution time (ART), net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), and first call resolution (FCR) are examples of metrics used to measure the effectiveness of customer service training.

How can customer service training be incorporated into an ecommerce business?

Ecommerce businesses offer customer service in a slightly different way than brick-and-mortar shops. Still, the same underlying skills are required: communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Consider signing up for digital training courses to incorporate customer service training into your ecommerce business.