24 Customer Service Training Ideas in 2023 | Ultimate Guide
It’s all too common for companies to treat customer service as an afterthought. They establish the bare minimum—a call center with short availability windows or an FAQ page on their website—and focus their attention on customer acquisition.
But this kind of lack of attention to customer support often translates into a lack of care for customers themselves. If it’s too difficult or inconvenient for a customer to connect with a brand, or the support team isn’t equipped to provide a solution, they’ll start looking elsewhere.
Today’s customer service is about more than just resolving issues—it’s an important component of attracting and retaining customers. Great customer service is even translated into brand trust; 38% of customers said exceptional customer service has a significant impact on how much they trust a brand they regularly buy from.
In order to achieve great customer service, companies need to ensure their support teams are properly qualified to provide solutions to a wide range of questions and issues. That all starts with the right customer service training plan.
Why is Customer Service Training Important?
Even with the best product or service, mistakes or miscommunications happen. A new user is unsure how to use a new software tool, a customer receives a defective product, has a question about something they just bought, a shipment gets lost in the mail, or they’re charged for the wrong item. As customers ourselves, we’ve all been there.
Regardless of how big or small that issue is, it’s the customer service team’s job to resolve it. If done correctly and efficiently, they can smooth even the biggest problems—but the reverse is also true.
If the process is complicated, inconvenient, or frustrating for the customer, even the smallest problems can drive a once-loyal buyer away for good.
This is where customer service training becomes so important. When your support team is properly trained, they can:
- Provide a better customer experience. Well-trained customer service agents are ready to help. They’re good communicators, are resourceful, and want to turn a stressful experience into a positive one.
- Shorten support resolution times. Without training, support agents need to look up answers to questions or transfer the customer to someone on the team more equipped to help—creating more frustration for the customer. With the right training, agents can get to the bottom of customer issues faster to help find a resolution quickly.
- Retain more customers. Bad customer experiences can cost a company up to 9.5% of its annual revenue. Providing the right training can ensure support staff is able to close customer experience gaps to prevent them from moving to a competitor due to lack of care and attention.
- Gain more customer referrals. Word-of-mouth marketing is insanely effective in today’s buying world, and with online reviews, digital forums, and social media continuing to grow, referral networks are larger than just “friends and family.” When customers are happy with the brands they buy from, they’re more likely to recommend it to their communities.
When Should Customer Service Training Occur?
Customer service training isn’t a one-and-done task. It’s an ongoing process that requires individuals and the team as a whole to consistently revisit the tools, methods, and strategies they’re using to provide support to customers. This can only be done when a robust learning and development strategy is put into place.
Here are some of the most important times to provide customer service training.
- New hire onboarding. No matter how much customer service experience a new hire has, proper training during the employee onboarding process is crucial for setting them up for success in their new role. New hires not only need practice in how to use the tools or systems your company utilizes, but they also need to know the ins and outs of your products and services. A proper onboarding plan can ensure they can provide great customer service from Day 1.
- Upskilling and reskilling to meet evolving customer needs. Great customer service meets the customer where they are, meaning it needs to constantly evolve to match changing expectations. Customer support teams need to be continuously upskilled in the new technologies, methods of communication, and even language and tone customers expect today.
- After internal process changes. Refining internal processes and procedures help your team stay productive and efficient. With each change, you need to update your customer service training manual, train your team on the new way of doing things, and create proper process documentation to support their performance.
- Continuous skill development. The truth is training is never-ending. Teams always have something to learn to improve their skills and practice makes perfect. Continuous training programs can act as a refresher on past lessons or help them refine their work to do better at their job.
What’s the Best Way to Provide Customer Service Training?
There are many different training methods for customer service training and they each have their unique benefits and drawbacks, meaning there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to training your customer service team.
A comprehensive training program can take advantage of a mix of methods to ensure all their bases are covered.
Here are four of the most common approaches to customer service training:
1. Instructor-led training. Instructor-led training follows a traditional classroom-like approach to learning. A teacher (usually a third-party consultant or a leader within the organization) will lead the group through new processes or information in person or virtually.
Instructor-led training often requires the most time commitment from trainees, requiring their attention during a dedicated time period. This kind of training is best for new hires or after large process changes.
2. Online learning. Online learning typically involves a list of modules or courses that the trainee can complete on their own time. Online learning is often pre-recorded or uses digital testing services to measure the trainee’s knowledge.
Online learning is great for continuous testing, or to train employees on updates or small changes. It can also be used for learning new skills, as long as the employee is self-motivated and able to pick up knowledge without one-on-one attention.
3. Blended Learning. Blended learning uses both instructor-led training and online learning to deliver a more comprehensive learning experience. Trainees might sit in on a live training session and then continue their training with online modules.
Blended learning provides the personalized attention of instructor-led training with the convenience of online learning, giving trainees the best of both worlds.
4. On-demand performance support. On-demand performance support provides teams with quick and easy access to training, resources, and knowledge during their day-to-day work activities.
On-demand performance support can help employees get unstuck if they forget how to do something or run into a problem they haven’t experienced before.
Customer Service Training Software & Technology
The right customer support training software and technology can make customer service training easier and more effective. Here are the tools you’ll want to use when creating a training program:
- Learning Management System (LMS). A learning management system is a software platform instructors use to create, manage, and monitor training programs. An LMS makes it easy to deliver content and materials, track who is completing them, and deliver progress reports on training initiatives.
- Online course providers. Online course providers offer third-party training, courses, or lessons on specific skills or topics. These platforms make it easy for team members to learn something new with minimal investment from the organization.
- Knowledge base or internal wiki. A knowledge base or internal wiki is a set of company guides, documents, updates, and databases available to all employees. Employees can easily share, collaborate, and access information they need whenever they need it.
- Digital Adoption Platform (DAP). A digital adoption platform integrates with another application to guide the user through how to use it. Add walk-throughs, videos, self-help menus, and more to provide (digital) hands-on support.
24 Customer Service Training Ideas and Tips for 2023
Employees can be resistant to training because it’s often boring—but it doesn’t have to be. Getting creative with the way you train your customer service team can help them stay engaged with the new information and retain more of what they’ve learned.
Here are some ideas and tips for training your customer service team in 2023.
1. Conduct role-playing scenarios
Your customer service agents need experience handling a variety of customers, situations, and questions—but you don’t want to wait until those issues find them naturally to learn if they’re equipped to handle it. Instead, create role-playing scenarios where agents can learn how to handle difficult situations in a low-pressure environment.
2. Set up job shadowing
Watching someone else complete a task is a great way to learn. Pair new hires with experienced employees (or team members set for a promotion with someone currently in that role) so they can see how customer service situations play out in real-time—and give them the added benefit of a built-in mentor for the day.
3. Create a buddy program for new hires
A buddy program encourages collaboration and sharing of knowledge and can help new hires feel more comfortable in their new position. Establish pairs or groups of new hires and set a designated time for them to get together and talk about or practice what they’ve learned during the training process.
4. Build a knowledge base
A knowledge base gives your team something to refer back to when they have a question or hit a roadblock. A well-designed knowledge base or internal wiki can make it easy for customer service agents to find the solutions they need if they’re ever in a situation where they don’t know the correct answer.
5. Incentivize completing courses or certifications
Get employees engaged in continuous learning by offering incentives for completing courses or certifications. Recognize their hard work by offering something they want (such as a promotion or monetary bonus).
6. Provide crisis training
We all hope to never experience a crisis, but it’s important to ensure your teams are prepared in case it happens. Crisis training not only helps your team know what to say to customers when something goes seriously wrong, but can also help them handle the added stress or pressure that comes with working in a time of crisis.
7. Hold presentation sessions
Presentations can provide an in-depth look at a particular method, experience, or tool and provide your team with an opportunity to ask questions or share ideas. Encouraging team members to present topics to their peers can also create a collaborative environment for more efficient learning.
8. Invest in “in the moment of need” training
“Moment of need” training provides specific support to employees based on their situation or circumstance, giving them exactly what they need when they need it. This kind of learning model works with an employee’s busy schedule and short attention span to make training delivery more effective.
With a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, customer support teams are empowered with in-app guidance, reinforcement training, and on-demand support – all in the moment of need. This empowers support agents to provide better levels of support, as well as provide self-help support channels for customers and users that provide a better level of customer support and deflects tickets.
9. Conduct a skills gap analysis
A skills gap analysis can help you see what skills and weaknesses exist in your team or individual employees. When you know where you can improve, you can provide more targeted training to help bring everyone up to speed.
Get a free skill gap analysis template to customize for your organization now!
10. Mix up your training methods
Monotonous training can get boring and cause your team to check out. Try and mix up your training methods to keep things interesting. If there is a particular method or approach you haven’t tried with your team, give it a shot during your next training session!
11. Take advantage of microlearning
Breaking down lessons into small sessions can make it easier for your team to stay focused and engaged, increasing the chances that they retain the information. Microlearning breaks concepts down into bite-size chunks that your service team can complete between meetings.
12. Improve process documentation and SOPs
It’s not good enough to just have process documentation—the instructions need to be clear, up-to-date, and easy to follow. If your customer service team is struggling, it might be time to update your standard operating procedures (SOPs).
13. Use Loom to create video tutorials
Having a team member or manager jump on a video call to walk an employee through a process is acceptable – in moderation. However, with larger teams that are distributed across the globe, it’s difficult to find the time to connect that works for both individuals.
Loom is a video tutorial creation tool that allows users to record their screen, as well as their camera and microphone, allowing them to create short walkthrough videos that document nuanced or complex digital processes.
14. Use Whatfix to create interactive guided flows
Larger organizations can use a digital adoption platform such as Whatfix to create in-app, interactive training content that is contextual to your different customer service and support agents.
With Whatfix, you can create the following in-app training content:
- Interactive step-by-step walkthroughs
- Product tours
- Tool tips
- Task lists
- Embedded knowledge bases with FAQs and links to supporting documents
15. Gamify your ongoing customer training
Make ongoing training fun by gamifying the experience. Can you create some healthy competition among team members? Adding some excitement can get the entire team more involved in the training process.
16. Conduct conflict-resolution exercises
Knowing how to answer questions correctly or walk a customer through how to complete a task or troubleshoot a problem is great, but customer service agents need to know how to handle frustrated, unhappy, and sometimes downright mean customers. Conduct conflict-resolution training, such as role-playing exercises, to educate employees on how to handle tense situations.
17. Train on product knowledge
Your customer service team needs to be experts in your product. Beyond training for the typical customer service skills, make sure they’re familiar with the product or services you provide—including any updates or changes that happen. Be sure to include product knowledge training in all of your new onboarding training, as well as frequent refresher training sessions.
18. Learn soft skills
Customer service agents need to be great listeners, empathetic, clear communicators and need to know how to stay positive in stressful situations. While soft skills are harder to learn, have your team engage in exercises that allow them to practice their professionalism and patience.
19. Hold demonstration sessions
A demonstration session or walk-through is a great way to give your team an opportunity to see your product or the tools they’re using in action. You could host these live and allow your team to come with questions to answer in real-time, or pre-record demonstrations they can access on their own time.
20. Design a mentor program
One-on-one learning can be incredibly impactful for both new and existing employees. Setting up a mentor program for your customer service team gives each individual a go-to resource to ask questions, get feedback, and engage on a more personal level.
21. Learn LAST (Listen, Acknowledge, Solve, Thank)
The LAST (Listen, Acknowledge, Solve, Thank) method is an easy-to-follow framework for resolving customer issues. This support method ensures all the bases are covered when a service agent is helping an unhappy customer.
22. Build a positive company culture
Company culture goes hand-in-hand with team success. If your team isn’t happy with their job, they’re not likely to care about the service they’re providing. Creating a strong company culture can improve employee satisfaction and encourage them to want to do better at their job.
23. Try a customer experience simulation
A customer experience simulation puts your support agent on the other end of the conversation, allowing them to see what the support experience is like from the customer’s perspective. Knowing what the customer is going through can help them empathize and provide an overall better experience.
24. Collect feedback from your team
Give your team a say in the way you train. Ask for their opinions on past courses or lessons and find out what they’d like to learn in future courses. Getting them involved in the training process can make them more invested and show them you care about their professional growth.
Customer service training doesn’t need to be a boring or stressful process. With a variety of approaches, methods, and ways to learn, customer service training is easy to customize for your team or even for each individual—and it’s well worth the investment.
When your team is given access to the information and resources they need to do their job to their best ability, you can make them more productive, make customers happier, and even improve your bottom line.
To create a more engaging, effective, and on-demand customer support training strategy, explore Whatfix’s digital adoption platform.
With Whatfix, leaders are able to create in-app guidance such as step-by-step tutorials, process documentation, and self-help knowledge base – all embedded directly into your enterprise software applications.
Request a demo to see how Whatfix empowers organizations to improve end-user adoption and provide on-demand customer support