The customer service team - your first point of contact

Customer service staff are usually the first point of contact for a customer when interacting with your company. If the customer is annoyed how will your staff handle it? Rather than reacting badly and potentially escalating the situation, how can you equip your team? Now, I am firmly against the idea of a ‘script’. However, I do think a guiding framework can be very helpful. In this post, I hope to give you a few pointers on how to write the best customer service training manual. Here are my six top tips:

  1. Establish clear policies
  2. Have a FAQ’s
  3. Include role play
  4. Cover the basics
  5. Printed copies
  6. Feedback

This framework should give you a starting point. It is likely to need regular updates and should definitely have input from those doing the job day to day.

  1. `Establish clear policies on how customers are to be greeted, acceptable wait times and the chain of command regarding decision making. Make it clear what allowances customer service representatives can make independently.

  2. Have a 'frequently asked questions' section of the manual including examples of how they have been handled appropriately.

  3. Include role play. Ensure your trainees have played the part of customer and customer service representative in training sessions. Have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ examples.

  4. Make sure all the relevant ‘basics’ about your business are included in the manual and that all customer service representatives know and understand this info. Also include a list of useful contacts within the organisation or elsewhere if necessary as a good reference guide.

  5. Have some printed copies of the manual with an easy ‘quick tips’ section. Remember that it will need to be updated regularly.

  6. Get feedback from your team on how the manual works, is there anything that should be included which currently isn’t addressed.

Zappos want to be known for customer service first and foremost and the products they sell second, which is why all new hires in Las Vegas go through four weeks of initial training. This is for everyone, no matter what job they will actually do after the four weeks. They do this because they want everyone to have the experience of talking with customers. Contact centre employees receive an additional three weeks of training, so for them it’s a total of seven weeks before it’s full speed ahead in the call centre.
Zappos also uses its customer calls in its advertising. For the “Happy People Making People Happy” campaign in 2010, they used customer calls as a way to demonstrate their values, the three C’s: clothing, customer service, and culture (they’ve since added a 4th C for community). During the process with the ad agency they sat in on actual customer calls. They were inspired by the power of the Customer Loyalty Team and simply found a way to take one of the best assets and best branding devices and make it fun and interesting.

In my next blog post I will look at how you can hire the right people to improve your company’s customer service.

The customer service team. Your first point of contact