Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Jul 23

Customer Service Training Vs Coaching

By ian Johnstone | Uncategorized

If the fundamentals of Customer Service are so easy why do most training programmes fail?  

One of the biggest challenges to running a customer service programme is that each of your employees has different levels of

  • ABILITY (knowledge and skills),
  • ATTITUDE (how they think about customer service), and
  • EXPERIENCE (either as an employee delivering customer service or having been a customer themselves).

 This causes problems because a one size fits all approach to training doesn’t work.  

Imagine you run a restaurant and you deliver a great product but your customer service scores are ordinary or poor, and you decide you need to do something to improve them.

 What would happen if went to your experienced team members and told them that you were going to deliver a customer service training? How would they respond? Would they cheer and congratulate you for the great news, or would they roll their eyes, mutter under their breath, or just tell you outright ‘What a waste of time it would be’

Most likely the latter 

On the flip side, what happens if you tell your inexperienced staff they are going to be doing customer service training that involves lots of roll-playing and group activities to help them create real life scenarios to help them deal with customers.

Instant shock, resistance and even in some cases fear.    

Why training by itself doesn't work

The reality is if you put your entire team through the same sheep dip style training programme, your only guarantee is, that it will not work.  

You also run the risk of demotivating the experienced employees who due to their influence in the team, can become negative about the training, which influences how and what the new employees learn.  

So, what’s the solution?

When you design any type of customer service programme you need to consider your team’s needs and expectations. 

  • Inexperienced employees need more hands on and direct training where you provide all the information and directions they require.
  • Experienced employees who already know what to do and how to provide great service, however, for what ever reason may not be doing it, so you need to find out why and help them to resolve it. 

 To do this there are two main types of learning activities you can choose:   

  1. Customer Service Training – When you need to impart new knowledge and skills to the employees (usually the inexperienced ones). 
  2. Customer Service Coaching – When you help employees who have received the training and are capable to do the task to improve their performance.     

You can see in the table below how and when to use each learning activity. 

When do you stop training and start coaching?

As we have discussed training is great for introducing new topics and approaches to employees, however, without repetition, reinforcement and practice employees will either forget, fail  or choose not to use what they have learned at work.

The key to ensuring all employees can and will provide consistently excellent customer service is to:

  • build their ABILITY (knowledge and skills) by providing training when needed,  
  • reinforce and encourage their ATTITUDE (why they choose to do the right thing) through one to one coaching, and giving constant feedback. 

And, over time and with the right EXPERIENCE, they will soon learn the value of delivering exceptional customer experiences, which will motivate them to continue to do it. 

The reality is that adults irrespective of their experience are always learning, either something new or reinforcing what they already know or think they know.

Meet each of your employees learning needs and expectations and you are well on the way to helping them to generate great customer experiences. 

Do you like what you have read? Leave a comment below.

Apr 13

Employees learn skills in stages

By PE Admin | Uncategorized

Employees learn skills in stages

As we learn new skills we will go through 4 stages. Each stage has two measures

  • Awareness The level of conscious thought on a topic or skills
  • Ability The level that something can be done.

The Awareness to Ability learning process demonstrates how each employee goes through the different stages from being first aware to forming habits.

Adapted from “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”, Noel Burch from Gordon Training International (1970)

Stage 1 - Unaware & Unable

During this stage, an individual lacks the awareness of the needed skills, knowledge and capacity to do a certain task

Imagine that you are responsible for teaching a group of trainees how to use a new computer programme for processing customer complaints.

Before seeing the programme in action the employee/s are unaware of its capabilities or how it works.

Stage 2 - Aware & Unable

During this stage the induvial becomes aware of their lack of knowledge and skill.

After attending a training session employees become aware of the computer programme and its features and functions.

They become aware of it but do not know how to use it

Stage 3 - Aware & Able

Through practice they start to develop and retain the needed knowledge and skills, however progress is slow. You know when people are going through this stage as they are constantly talking to themselves as they complete the task.

After a week they have had a chance to practice using the new software and each of the employees is able to use some of the basic functions, however, progress is slow these take time and effort to do. In this phase the progress is generally slow

Stage 4 - Unaware & Able

After a period of time and repeated use the individual can is able to complete the task without conscious thought, tasks are done quickly. It is at this stage that habits are starting to form (both good and bad) as each employee finds ways to do their job easily

It is now 7 weeks after the training, and the employees have been using the software daily, each employee is becoming both very competent and confident using the computer programme. They are able to use the general features of the programme with minimal thought, completing tasks with ease, almost as though they are on auto pilot

When training employees it is important to be aware which stage each of your employee is at so that you can adapt your training to support their development needs. All training needs to move from a teaching style (telling and directing) for employees new to the knowledge and skills where they need to learn each of the steps and stages to a more coaching style (asking and guiding) when they are competent at doing the task but need to build their confidence or willingness to implement their training on the job.

When training you teams you need to ensure that each employees learning is focused on their current stage of ability; this means tailoring your delivery to suit their progress and development. Teach when you need to, but also give them a chance to practice and figure it out for themselves. Offer support and guidance in a timely manner, being sure to give constructive feedback to praise good behaviours and correct negative ones.