Key Employee Skills to Look for in the Year 2020

There are several factors that influence one’s professional growth, but none as directly as an individual’s customer service skills. This particular skill set is among the most desirable ‘Employee Skills’ that businesses are looking for while hiring in the coming years. A few common examples of preferable soft skills are leadership, communication skills, empathy, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more. While all the soft skills are intangible they definitely can be observed. With an employee well-versed in key employee skills, a customer’s experience is more likely to be more sincere and authentic.

Soft Skills in the Classroom
Soft Skills

Critics of workforce development programs wonder why these essential soft skills have not been taught outside the workplace – such as a college or university. The issue is a lack of knowledge transfer about such skills at the higher educational institutions. Introductory classes are often limited to business or marketing majors, while ideally, all majors should have equal exposure to these key soft skills. Businesses can play an important role in exposing graduating seniors to crucial soft skills. They can partner with local educational institutes to sponsor skill enhancement programs for their potential employees.

Employee Skills & Workplace of the Future
Employee Skills

Organisations are on the lookout for employees who can thrive in the workplace of the future. For the unacquainted, ‘workplace of the future’ is one that provides opportunities to work with artificial intelligence (AI), data, and other evolving technologies. As such, it is important to have employees trained to excel in both soft skills, such as emotional intelligence and communication, as well as a basic understanding of AI.

Doing so will enable the workers of today to work more effectively with the people and technology of the near future.

Employees’ Product and Service Knowledge
Product and Service Knowledge

There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than a salesperson struggling to ring up a sale or unable to properly demonstrate the company’s latest product. Every single employee in a customer-facing role must have a comprehensive understanding of the company’s products and services. Team leads should take the initiative, when necessary, to keep their team members updated about the same. Soft skills are like a muscle; flexible and open to improvement, provided the professional chooses to prioritize them. As such, it is important to evaluate your employees and their customer service skills. With the help of experts who facilitate customer service training programs, you can give your employees the edge they need to surpass the competition.

Finding the Diamond In the Rough
Finding the Diamond

The responsibility of availing on-the-job learning opportunities falls on both the managers and the individual employees. As a manager, one should pay attention to proactive and empathetic workers; those individuals who are ready and willing to troubleshoot while providing core services or products. If a passionate person is selling the product, the customer is likely to be equally enthusiastic. A team lead or supervisor who stays ahead of the market and learns about the trends that affect their job, or how to better it, is also an ideal employee.

The previously-mentioned soft skills might qualify for the current workplace ecosystem, however, we must keep in mind that like technology, customer service skills are, too, dynamic and ever-evolving. The future of these skills could include working in synchronicity with AI, emotional intelligence, and many other emerging practices.

Customer Experience & You: 3 Steps to Better Service

No matter the industry, all companies must win the customer’s favor to secure their repeat business. This critical moment often occurs after a purchase or service has taken place.  A number of challenges faced while striving for customer loyalty are directly connected to customer service quality. Whether an employee is having a bad day or the software has a glitch, the task remains to deliver an optimal experience at every possible customer touch point. A positive customer experience (CX) is a lot like flying first class – the customer should feel that the organisation and its representatives are attentive, reliable, and efficient at all times.

These are three essential steps required for creating a seamless customer experience: 

#1.Customer-Centric Skills Enhancement Sessions
Customer Skills Enhancement

One way an organisation can encourage positive customer experiences is by focusing on their employees. More specifically, they can design or commission custom-tailored soft skills training sessions that encourage better communication with the customer or client. Supervisors are best equipped to introduce soft skills training into their particular team or department. Two of these basic skills include the following:

?     Communication: It is vital to communicate with customers clearly and effectively.  Training sessions focused on evaluating and improving existing communication skills are a valuable investment- whether an employee has a customer-facing role or not.

?     Conflict Resolution: Customer service experts recommend role-playing activities to help employees rehearse complex scenarios. The goal is to maintain composure while interacting with an upset customer and diffuse the situation in a satisfactory manner.

#2.Responsible Reputation Management
Customer-Centric Skills Enhancement                                                   

Ever consider what importance social media has in the success of a modern-day organisation? It is often the first resource through which potential customers or clients hear about a company’s offerings. Make sure that there is always crystal-clear and transparent two-way communication going on between the social media team members and all the other relevant employees. The aim of social media is to keep customers in the loop with the latest products and services at a company. Well-planned social media management paired with thoroughly researched reputation management strategies will prevent serious damage – be it due to a faulty product or a costly oversight by a team member.

#3.  Employee Engagement Program
Employee Engagement Program

It is no secret that engaged employees make for better customer experiences. Achieving optimal employee engagement, however, requires careful planning by the team leads. The organisation’s core purpose and goals must be successfully communicated and understood by its employees.  Once that is accomplished, employees are more likely to be emotionally committed and focused on fulfilling their company’s goals. They will put in the time and effort to deliver satisfactory customer experiences – because they truly care about the outcome. As a manager, one can roll out a customised employee engagement program which includes:

?     Recognising employees’ achievements like external certifications, breaking a customer service record, or gaining a ‘kudos’ from a pleased client, and

?     Supporting on-the-job learning by sponsoring professional development courses, either completely or by a significant percentage. (These courses can be in the form of traditional, evenings or weekends-based workshops or online sessions.)

There are a plethora of soft skills that can be taught with specialised training sessions.  It’s best to hold these sessions every quarter or annually, depending on your company’s specific requirements. Eventually, adopting this new strategy will encourage more recurring customers, as the customer will is bound to remember a good experience and associate it with the brand. The objective must be to deliver a hassle-free experience to every single customer.

Why is Traditional Learning Phasing Out?

Traditional education has been around for, well, seems like forever. Jotting down notes while the teacher delivers a lecture is what we have grown accustomed to since primary school. Traditional learning or the “talk and chalk” method of imparting knowledge relies on the instructor taking charge of the entire learning experience. According to some educational experts, this instructor-led learning experience is no longer relevant. In today’s world, traditional learning is quickly phasing out due to technological advancement. Job requirements are changing faster than the processes that support talent development itself. Quite a few companies struggle to provide their employees with the essential soft skills and technological know-how they need to survive a fast-moving global marketplace. One-size-fits-all trainings are no longer effective, especially in a corporate setting.

The modern learner looks forward to engaging and innovative learning experiences. The following set of tools can help facilitate the modern learner:

Engaging the Modern Learner
Engaging the Modern Learner

As the tech-savvy learner is constantly in a race against time, they require immediate access to quality information on their desired platform. Gone are the days when people were willing to sit in a chair for hours; the modern, distracted learner demands innovative learning tools that fit their lifestyle. This will not only facilitate the learning process but will also enhance the effectiveness of the entire learning process. The modern learner is expected to learn and develop new skills to remain both competitive and productive in the workplace. This self-directed learning tendency in modern learners is now convincing their employers to invest in more blended learning experiences.

E-learning
E-learning

The growing popularity of e-learning solutions has a lot to do with the convenience they provide. They allow the learner to access training sessions on their own time and from the comfort of their couch or cubicle. The rise of digital courses and learning management systems (LMS) has significantly transformed the learner’s journey.

Experiential Learning
Experential learning

Have you ever seen a doctor performing surgery by just reading the theory or a pilot flying a jet just cramming a few books? The answer is, hopefully, a “No”. No one learns by just reading about it but one can gain deeper knowledge while attempting the task itself – such as cooking or painting. Experiential learning allows the learner to be completely immersed or engaged and learn via their experiences. Experiential learning is widely used in business trainings for effective skill development.

To maximize returns on corporate training sessions, employers need training programs that are custom-tailored for modern learners. The traditional training method has failed to deliver the desired outcome. How so? For most trainees, the second they step out of the room, they have already forgotten half of the things that they were taught in the session. The traditional learning model lacks engagement. It’s time to make the shift from traditional learning to experiential learning a permanent one.

What an Experiential Learning Instructor Looks Like

Learning is so much more than just memorizing facts and figures; it is the continuous process of converting information into actionable skills and a solid knowledge base. There are many different forms of knowledge and learning methodologies. Experiential knowledge is what we acquire by experiencing something on our own and then reflecting on it. 

Break Free of the Classroom
Break Free of the Classroom

The experiential learning or ‘learning by doing’ method relies on the learner applying that knowledge to develop a new skill or approach. An unconventional educational experience requires an equally unorthodox facilitator to make a lasting impact. This is where an experiential learning instructor comes into the equation. They must engage adult learners with training games, hands-on activities, and role-playing activities. However, this must all take place outside of a traditional classroom-like setting. Their challenge is communicating the desired concepts to the trainees by demonstration rather than an outright lecture or presentation. An effective trainer will devise training activities that lead the participants to the desired conclusion through innovative learning experiences. They must also be able to execute the training in a way that encourages self-assessment by all of the participants. 

Experiential learning requires a trainer that possesses the following attributes:

Life-long Learner
Life-long Learner

Being open to learning helps trainers to not only hone their skills but also empathize with other adult learners. By experiencing the same activities as their trainees, a corporate trainer can make the learning process even more engaging and entertaining.

Excellent Communicator
excellent communicator

For most jobs, good communication skills are a prerequisite but in the case of the trainer, the delivery style can make or break the experience for their trainees. Trainers have to engage people with different personalities, answer challenging questions on-the-spot and deal with a possible difference of opinions. A successful outcome depends on the trainer possessing effective communication skills. An experienced trainer will strike the right balance between instruction and empathy.  

The “Observer”
observer

In experiential learning, the trainer is in the background and it is the trainees that are the real show-stoppers. The trainer’s role is that of an observer. The traditional “top-down” lecture style hinders the two-way exchange of ideas. It is the corporate trainer’s responsibility to fully engage the trainees.

From the business owner to the line manager, it is safe to assume that no one enjoys a monotonous training session. To make it worthwhile, the trainer needs to mix fun with education via games. An experienced corporate trainer will strive to make the training session a memorable interaction. A trainer with the above mentioned skills can help the organization reach its goals by cultivating the desired skills within the participants.