Customer Service

7 Best Customer Service Training Ideas for a Remote World

September 15, 2020
1:55 pm

In this post, we are going to show you the best customer service training ideas revolving around digital workplaces.

Before we dive in, did you know:

Growing companies are nearly twice as likely as stagnating companies to prioritize customer service training as ‘very important.’ But, how that training gets delivered is often less clear-cut – especially in a world where COVID-19 has forced many to work from home, and where any ‘new normal’ will likely still involve substantial remote working.

So, will training have to go remote, too? And, if it does, what are some customer service training ideas that can help organizations make the most of this shift?

Accelerating an existing trend

Distances have become far less of a barrier to employment in recent years. Even before COVID-19 hit, the total number of remote workers was on the rise, up 173 percent since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Partly as a response to this, companies have been looking towards remote, online solutions to deliver training, instead of the traditional in-person approach: back in 2018, e-learning had already grown a staggering 900 percent in the 16 years previous, for example.

Now, the upheaval caused by COVID-19 is acting as a catalyst, creating an even more pressing need to find customer service training ideas that allow for remote and flexible working patterns.

Benefits of online customer service training

There are claims that digital learning is not as effective as in-person. But that’s not true – Accenture debunks many related myths, such as the belief that digital training offers no real cost-savings. On the contrary, a recent study showed that, by switching to digital learning, corporations saved on average 50-70 percent of their training costs.

And when it comes to the actual learning, the reality is, e-learning boosts retention rates by 25 to 60 percent, compared to 8 to 10 percent with traditional training.

Far from being worse, online training actually offers a whole load of benefits, including:

  • On-demand training. Online resources are particularly useful as learners can break free of an imposed schedule and access materials when it suits them best – even going back over past material to refresh their memory. This allows learners to take control of their own learning.
  • Learning on the go. The increased power and prevalence of mobile devices allows access to training not only anytime, but any place, too. Employees are no longer tied to their desktop or laptop and can engage in training where they feel most comfortable, as well as on the move. This means fully remote employees, along with office employees on commute, can access the same learning material. That way, you can offer consistent training without having to account for where your employees are working from.
  • Measurable results. Evaluating how training transfers into knowledge has always been crucial. In a classroom environment, that can be tricky and slow. Online, however, you can evaluate your employees’ knowledge and the effectiveness of the training immediately after the session – using interactive quizzes, feedback forms, and the like – before organizing and storing the data digitally.
  • Up-to-date information. It’s important that customer service employees have access to the most current product and service information. Updating the training material to reflect this is far easier online. You could even push out messages to inform employees of any updates as they occur.  
  • Cost reduction. Running a training program often requires a lot of money and resources – the venue, catering, travel, and so on. Online training cuts these expenses dramatically. In fact, digital learning is less costly per beneficiary over time for 83 percent of cross-sector organizations.

Don’t be remotely concerned...

Here’s 7 customer service training ideas for a digital world:

Even in a future where work patterns are more flexible, the need for robust customer service training programs will remain the same. With that in mind, here are some fun customer service training ideas that will work wonders remotely:

1. Use digital shadowing

Much of modern day customer service takes place digitally, and this leaves a footprint. Reading through live chat examples and listening to calls can help employees pick up useful knowledge and skills from real life situations.

Having a platform to track and centralize these interactions – such as the unified view offered by Acquire – makes learning much easier, providing everyone access to relevant conversations.

Since supervisors and managers also have access to customer conversations their team members are having, they can offer specific and actionable feedback on any particular areas for improvement, too.

2. Harness the power of videos

One of the best ways we pick up information is through observational learning – seeing how others do things and using that to guide us. But, how do you do that if you’re not physically close to your colleagues?

Video works a treat. Research from CloudApp found that 83 percent of workers prefer to watch a video and be shown how to accomplish a task. With the widespread availability of video-recording technology and tools (such as Loom), you can create a bank of training material employees can access anytime. Experienced staff can demonstrate and explain processes, adding tips and tricks as they go – particularly useful for learning how to use customer service software systems, for example.

3. Be the customer

A watchword for any customer service employee is empathy. One way to develop this skill, as they say, is to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. So, why not navigate an hour with another person’s mouse instead?

Acting as a customer, and going through the same processes they would, helps build an understanding of the kind of difficulties and annoyances they come up against – for instance, perhaps there is a particularly confusing form in the shopping cart checkout. That way, when customer service staff say they know where the customer is coming from, they can really mean it.

4. Create virtual classrooms

Not all remote learning needs to be instructorless. Video chat technology can be used to create a one-on-one or group dynamic similar to that of a physical classroom. Employees get a chance to interact and have two-way communication with both their colleagues and the trainer.

This approach also means employees don’t miss out on any training that does require interaction, like any role playing ideas for customer service training. Features of modern video chat technology can even allow you to incorporate some more fun customer service training ideas, like changing the screen background to suit the context of the roleplay. Want to be transported to a call center? No problem!

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5. Use your knowledge base

Good product knowledge is a critical skill for customer service employees. Knowledge bases are a perfect place to do this as they already act as a center of learning for customers. And just like customers, employees can use it to educate themselves.

Information in the knowledge base allows employees to familiarize themselves with product features and even teaches them how to go about troubleshooting. The dynamic nature of a knowledge base is also a big plus as it ensures information is always up-to-date. You can read a case study of using a knowledge base for employee training here.

6. Gamify training

For employees to get the most out of training, it has to be fun. A great way to ensure this is by gamifying the experience. Gamification uses the interactivity and some of the problem-solving techniques often employed in computer games, helping to engage and inspire employees in their learning.

This can be particularly useful for inherently dry content, such as safety procedures or cybersecurity. For example, you could use a ‘spot the difference’ to highlight where safety breaches have occurred in one image but not another. Using little quizzes and games in this way helps create a sense of achievement and progress.  

7. Set up coaching/mentoring

Training shouldn’t be thought of as a one-off event. It’s an ongoing process to help employees develop personally and professionally. And there’s no better way of doing that than by setting up a mentoring program.

Pairing senior staff with junior staff is one way to structure these programs. Junior staff can then gain valuable advice from their colleagues’ experience. On the flip side, junior staff can also impart useful knowledge to more experienced employees – a process known as reverse mentoring. This is particularly true when it comes to technology – something that could prove invaluable when so many are transitioning to online remote working and facing unfamiliar tools.

Mentoring is a great way to encourage employees to stretch themselves and strive for particular goals. Focusing on individual aspirations in this way brings personalization to employees ongoing development. One-on-one video sessions are an effective format to go through feedback and work on making tangible improvements.

Adopting the right tools

Some traditional training techniques can be replicated online. But, there’s far more to be gained from using the plethora of tools available to find new methods, do things differently, and evolve to reflect the needs of an increasingly online world. Here are some of the best tools to level up your training program:

  • Learning management systems. Previously the preserve of education, LMSs are now well-established in providing e-learning for corporate training. LMS software, such as Adobe Captivate Prime, allows you to track, report, automate, and deliver customer service training programs.
  • Learning experience platforms. An LEP goes one step further than an LMS, providing a center of holistic learning. LEPs are flexible for trainers curating content, and, through connecting it to other HR tools, employees receive a personalized experience. As an open system, an LEP is perfectly placed to evolve with your needs. Axonify LXP is one example of this software.
  • Video training tools. Sometimes there's just no substitute for live learning. Video conferencing technology can help recreate the classroom, or even one-on-one environment. If the software allows it, you can record sessions so employees can review material later on. Zoom and Google Hangouts, among others, can both fulfill this role.
  • Project management tools. Remote employees can use project management tools to manage and assess progression through training, and even collaborate around any group tasks. You may already have project management software, such as Monday, in place at your organization that can be repurposed for training.
  • Communication tools. Remote training relies on good communication to make it work. Again, this is an opportunity to repurpose existing tools. For example, you may want to create Slack groups where employees can discuss their experience, or even share any customer service training ideas they might have themselves.  

An AI revolution awaits

According to an Oracle study, 27 percent of HR leaders believe that artificial intelligence in corporate training will have a positive impact on learning and development. Advances in AI and machine learning will drive a new wave of hyper-personalization through the better understanding of learner behaviors, increased ability to predict their needs, and by adapting and administering content based on employees’ past behavior.

Imagine a world where chatbot-type software replicates customer interactions and adapts to act in particular ways based on who it is dealing with, and the specific skills they need to develop – all without the need for another human present. This approach to training may not be that far away.