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Blog : Customer service the remake


Customer service the remake

Mary Jane Flanagan - Training Director

Taking a look at how to invigorate your training and make it 'stick'.

I don't know about you, but I rarely watch a remake that is better than the original. OK so Oceans Eleven was pretty good, High Society and The Thomas Crown affair are in my top ten, but Blues Brothers 2000 and remakes of The Italian Job, Alfie and King Kong make me want to cringe.

I feel the same way about training. It needs to be different, creative, interesting and exciting, taking the basic principles and reinvigorating them.

It goes without saying that trainers need to be passionate about the subjects they train and rigorous in reading research and updating information. They require the skills and knowledge to be able to tailor the training to the audience as opposed to a one size fits all approach. They need relevant experience so they can make their sessions exciting and real with stories, examples and case studies - this makes learning and development really come alive. They need to be fun and engaging and like people. This sounds like an edict from the Ministry of the Obvious though you'd be surprised how many times trainers don't do it. If you do, your audience will become involved and will want to go on the journey with you. One of the funniest pieces of feedback I had was form was from a head chef who said 'I didn't fall asleep like I usually do, can we have you again?'!

Being a trainer requires lifelong dedication. My husband laughs every time I pick up the pad which is glued to my side to write down a snippet of information I could use in the future. It might be a sign at the side of the road, a nugget from a documentary, an article in the newspaper or something Stephen Fry said (that man is a walking Wikipedia). I buy so many books from Amazon they must think I am running a library.

Which brings me back to customer service, my latest gem came from the Watchdog programme on 11th May. They asked viewers to comment on-line about customer service this is what they said:

Of the 7120 delegates that filled in the survey over three days:

  • 5169 said customer service had got worse in the last year; only 437 said it had got better
  • Just 28 said they had never had bad customer service (that's 4%)
  • 4618 said call centres and company responses to calls were the worst element of customer service (maybe that's because we all have occasion to use them?)
  • Only 4326 said they would complain - therefore I assume 2794 would walk away and tell others
  • More than half said they experienced poor customer service in some form every week.

These statistics should have shocked me but they didn't, at a time when organisations should be concentrating on the very things that would make customers return, they are cutting back on staffing levels and training, which trickles down into the quality of the service and the product. Often they are expecting supervisors and team leaders to step up to the mark and deliver excellence and manage and motivate their teams without giving them the tools to do so.

This shows there is a market for 'Customer Service Excellence the Remake', where businesses need to develop a culture of customer service, not just deliver an hour's 'tick-box training' but design a robust, multifaceted approach that combines a variety of systems, induction, collateral, linked KPI's, performance management training for supervisors and managers and basic customer service training 'with a twist'. We know this approach gets results as we have used it, whether it be increases in spend per head which resulted in one of our football club clients increasing spend by over £7k per match, or in vastly improved service standards where numerous clients have seen up to 8% increases in service levels as stated by in house surveys or independent service standard monitors through mystery visits.

At learnpurple every time we deliver a training session we start from scratch: what does the client need, how can we deliver their outcomes, who are our audience, and how can we make it fun, interesting, relevant and above all instill some of our passion and commitment which will translate directly into repeat business and competitive advantage.

Customer service training in challenging times, we believe it's more critical than ever. An investment or a cost? Depends on quality and delivery and you definitely get what you pay for.

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