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Unsurprisingly, 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?
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.