When employees hear the word ‘training’, they usually associate it with it being a formal theory-based session. Similar to a classroom environment, there is a trainer guiding participants in the best ways to achieve their yearly objectives while skimming through various topics deemed necessary for their review by the senior management. More and more organisations are now drifting away from traditional corporate trainings and towards more engaging, hands-on experiential training sessions. In experiential learning-based trainings, the focus is redirected on to the participants and their ability to ‘learn by doing’. The hands-on, games-based format can completely transform what employees feel about the word ‘training’ – from ‘Blah.’ to ‘Wow!’. While just about all the industries can benefit from the experiential learning-based approach, for now, the focus will be on customer service training.
So, What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning is when a person learns and develops their skill through experience. Such as when a young child gains the ability to ride a bicycle by being brave enough to try! That knowledge gained in the act of pedaling, braking, and balancing their own weight – all become the foundation of their personal bicycling-related skillset. In a wider context, a call center agent who undergoes periodic ‘angry customer’ simulations gains more knowledge than reading best practices brochure. Usually, an experiential learning-based session will mimic a work-related challenge, but the facilitator will remove all obvious indicators. Also, the session is hosted in a neutral environment, as far away from the cubicle as possible!
As a manager, there is much to gain from introducing experiential learning to the team. It comes in handy when the workforce must pick up a brand-new skill and quickly apply it to a real-world, role-specific situation. Unlike the traditional learning approach, that emphasizes learning before doing, experiential learning is based on facilitating learning by doing. Facilitators strive to create a safe and fun space where the participants arrive at the core learnings through both mental and physical exercises. Experiential learning-based trainings engages the participants completely and allows them to absorb information as they compete amongst each other.
Experiential Learning Enhances Customer Interactions
Those in a customer-facing role are quite familiar with the types of customers they have to deal with on a daily basis. There is ‘The Skeptic’, ‘The Perpetual Student’, ‘The Gentle Soul’, and even ‘The Know-it-All’! A personalised customer service training game can polish a group of new hires with an introduction to negotiation, time management, emotional intelligence, and communication skills. Customer service training games enable staff to interact with each other and improve their skills by actually experiencing different scenarios, participating in an assortment of activities and by encouraging teamwork.
Theoretical Training vs. Experiential Training
Although theory has its own place, experiential training methods help boost employee performance. They also encourage participants to approach unconventional training methodology with a positive attitude. Theoretical training, grounded in concepts and research, is unable to challenge the customer service representative’s readiness for the work environment. Employees feel safe making mistakes (and learning from them) while taking part in an experiential learning-based training. The fear of failure is diminished when interacting with colleagues in a relaxed and friendly environment. Experiential learning-based trainings can be tailor-made to enhance specific skills, such as written or spoken communication, as well as to improve an employee’s understanding of a particular product or service. It makes good business sense to have a blend of both types of trainings on the calendar. It allows customer service personnel to reap the maximum benefits from diverse training opportunities.
The modern consumer is firmly in the driving seat, especially when it comes to purchasing products and services. They know what they want, and how much they are willing to spend on a particular service or product. Not only that, the consumer usually wants the object of their desire almost immediately. Businesses must ensure that their wares and services are readily-accessible to the target consumer. Any delay can risk an imminent sale! Similarly, organizations strive to secure customer satisfaction by resolving complaints and requests as rapidly as possible. The bottom-line is that people want their issues resolved swiftly. Luckily, there are several customer service best practices that managers can introduce to their teams to increase efficiency – effectively speeding them up!
Here are three reasons why speed is the need for customer-centric organizations:
#1 – Keeps the Issue from Escalating
Moving fast helps any ongoing customer issue from snowballing into a bigger, more challenging problem. The angrier the customer is, the more damage a delayed response from customer service will have. The sooner an employee can resolve a customer service issue, the greater the chances of retaining that customer for the long-term. Critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and conflict-resolution are all soft skills that come handy when trying to satisfy upset customers. One way to make sure that your team is equipped to deal with complex situations is by hosting customer service skills training workshops. On-the-job performance can improve immensely for customer-facing staff with experiential learning sessions.
#2- Builds Trust
The first step to gaining customer loyalty is to secure the customer’s trust. This is especially true when they need the organization’s products or service the most. According to research, poor customer service drives away customers. A quick turnaround time paired with a real interest in the customer’s situation can result in a connection. Individuals in a customer-facing role have numerous opportunities to build the customer’s trust, starting with a polite conversation and ending with a speedy resolution.
#3 – Enhances the Customer Experience
Quick turnaround time is at the foundation of positive customer relationships. Consumers usually associate a helpful customer service experience with a speedy resolution time. Service time indicates the priority an organisation puts in pleasing their customers. Customers should feel delighted when they walk into your store or speak to an employee over the phone. No matter the industry, well-trained members can boost the customer experience by being communicative, and friendly.
As it is the era of omni-channel customer support, companies can provide assistance in many ways:
? Set-up a dedicated toll-free number for customer complaints and concerns,
? Provide self-service options like support blogs and FAQs,
? Integrate Live Chat Support on all digital platforms,
? Respond to email queries promptly, and
? Have active social media profiles on leading platforms like Facebook and Twitter
The secret to sustainable business is to embrace a customer experience mindset throughout the organization. When it comes to customer service, speed definitely matters.
The ‘Startup Era’ is responsible for introducing many colorful phrases and compound words into the global lexicon. This fresh terminology includes elevator pitch, bootstrapping, freemium, and even company culture. Company Culture, in particular, has come to define an organization’s overall ‘feel’ or personality. When scouts go on recruitment drives at colleges and universities, it is the company culture that they hope to hook the future employees with. Depending on a number of factors, including the average worker’s age, key products, history, the company’s vision, and management style, the company culture defines what is expected of the employee. This is especially true when their immediate supervisor or key decision-maker is unavailable. Culture equips an employee with the know-how to successfully navigate challenging situations at the workplace. No matter the industry type, company culture has an undeniable impact on customer service quality.
Bulls-Eye: Keeping Your (Brand) Promise
Imagine there is a bakery that has the word ‘punctuality’ emblazoned across its social media profiles. The bakery team is expected to uphold that promise with on-time deliveries. An owner ensures service quality by equipping the workplace with all the required tools, and materials. This can include a third-party delivery service or a refrigerated truck with driver for custom cake orders. If there is a delivery mishap, positive company culture encourages employees to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. A company’s mission, values statement, and slogan all play a crucial role in cultivating an organization’s culture. They usually embody an organization’s service philosophy. It is when the leadership acts upon them that the employees see these statements for more than just words.
‘Home’ Away from Home: Boosting Employee Engagement
T-shirts, baseball caps, notebooks, pens, and laptop bags – these are some of the examples of branded goods that can create a sense of comradery in the workplace. Aside from branded paraphernalia, what actually fosters employee loyalty is work that they feel proud of, a supervisor that they respect, and an office environment that makes them feel right at home. This ‘togetherness’ can easily translate into improved employee morale. Other small gestures that contribute to a positive company culture include celebrating birthdays, generous leave policies, open-door policy, and perks like catered lunches. Relaxed, happily-engaged employees deliver superior customer service. Along with treating the customers right, management must also make employees feel like an integral part of the organization. If employees do not feel valued, their dissatisfaction can hamper their quality of work and eventually, the overall customer experience.
Head-start: Customer Service Skills
A key component of positive company culture is an organization-wide understanding of the service philosophy. Every single team member must understand what is meant by ‘quality customer service’ at their workplace. Some managers achieve that by asking corporate trainers to deliver experiential workshops. These workshops can deviate from the standard classroom format. Instead of pulling up a presentation, facilitators can employ training games, and role-playing activities with the participants. It is recommended that regularly-scheduled customer service training sessions form the bedrock of a skills development program. On-going skills-based trainings help employees work in teams, enhance their customer service skills, and boost their productivity.
A resilient company culture results in sustainable business. Interacting with a motivated, happily-engaged employee can often be enough to transform a one-time visitor into a lifelong customer. Luckily, this potential lies within the grasp of each team member. Every employee is responsible for their part in developing the company culture at their workplace. The same goes for the overall customer service quality. With the aid of training sessions and open dialogue, an organization’s leadership can ensure that their company culture reflects their customer service philosophy.