Practice makes perfect.
We’ve all heard that, right? Either from your primary school teacher or from your mom who encouraged you to do another round of homework for Algebra class.
No matter when you’ve heard it and in what context, this sentence applies to anything we do, both personally and professionally. That’s why practicing the craft and training should be an integral part of whatever you do. As, if there’s no progress there can be only the regress.
The same goes for your customer service team. Even though we can distill customer service to ‘assisting your customers and resolving their issues’, this is one of the most demanding and important jobs.
The customer service field evolves on par with anything else. That’s because as a customer service representative you have to understand and be a part of every update inside your company. That applies to both development and marketing updates.
There are also new ways to provide customer service. New tools, new software, new customer service channels.
So, the question emerges: How do you keep up with all these changes? And how do you make sure you have the best customer service team?
The answer is training.
By implementing training, exercises, and activities into the workflow of your customer service team, you can create an environment where they can make progress every day.
This way, you not only have better employees without recruiting experienced and demanding personnel but you’re also creating a workplace that is appealing to young talents and that *actually* promotes ambitious and hard-working people.
To help you implement the training into the life of your customer service team, here, we’ve listed 27 ready-to-use customer service training ideas to help you create your own dream team!
1. Mirrored listening
This training idea derives from a negotiation technique called mirroring.
Mirroring is a simple act of repeating the other person’s words in a slightly different way. This is used to sort-of confirm what the other person said and give them a confirmation that we’re actively listening and that we understand their issue.
In the case of customer service, mirrored listening can be used to create the same effect when talking to your customers. Here’s an example:
Customer – “Hi, I subscribed to the Basic Plan but looking at my billing I can see you charged me for the Pro Plan and I’d like to get the difference back.”
Customer Service Rep – “Hi name! What I’m hearing is that you were wrongly billed for the higher pricing plan and you’d like to get a refund. Is that correct?”
This simple act assures the customer that you understand their issue and that they’ll get the exact outcome they want.
It will also save you a lot of time that both sides may lose in case there’s a misunderstanding between two parties on what the issue or the expected outcome is.
To practice mirrored listening, pair your customer service reps and ask them to take turns responding to their partner by mirrored listening.
If you’d like to read more about the mirroring technique, Chris Voss does a great job explaining this and more negotiation techniques in his book Never Split the Difference.
2. Product Demonstration
While demonstrating your product is a pity for marketing and sales experts, customer service reps may struggle to use the right words to successfully pitch the product to your customers.
This issue can be quickly resolved by doing a demo session of product demonstration. Sort-of demos of demos… right? 🤔
This customer service training idea can be extremely helpful during the onboarding process of newly hired customer service representatives as these are the ones who may find it hard to grasp all the concepts of your product. And by doing such demo sessions of product demonstrations, you’ll be sure that they know what they’re presenting and they’ll be much calmer during the actual presentations.
And as you probably know, good product demos can easily turn customer support center into a profit center.
To perform such product demonstrations schedule a demo session as usual with a customer service rep on one end and you on the other.
Let them carry on with the whole presentation which should take no longer than 15 minutes and take notes during the demo. You can also record the whole session and timestamp your notes to get back to certain parts of the demo.
And, of course, don’t forget to finally let them do a real demo session to test their skills in a real-life situation. Then, if needed, get back to what should be improved.
Role-playing is one of the most common customer service training ideas. And the reason for that is the fact that it’s easy to do and it works great.
To role-play you simply have to pair your customer service reps and put them into real-life scenarios. This can be chats, calls, emails, or other requests that customer service reps have to deal with.
Let one of your agents play the role of the never-satisfied customer while the other plays, well, themselves!
This, just as mock calls and mirrored listening will help them get accustomed to the work environment and everyday situations. After all, angry and demanding customers happen all the time and you can’t expect that every interaction will be 🧈 buttery-smooth.
Role-playing is also a great way to introduce new hires. You can do that by pairing them with trained and experienced customer service reps who’ll guide them through the whole process and will give them certain tips that are known to those who have been in the industry for a long time.
4. Customer Service Training Presentations
Presentations are probably the most well-known and traditional way to train customer service reps. And while presentations, to most, are the most boring thing to watch, with a little twist, they can serve as great service material.
Here, we describe a few types of training presentations. Namely:
- Question & Answers
The first one is your classic PowerPoint presentation that we all know and lo… Nevermind.
Visual presentations are great to explain concepts that are easier to understand when shown rather than told.
Also, if you know that your customer service reps are more of visualizers, visual training presentations will be the best type of presentation that you can offer.
Question & Answers or Q&A sessions are quite straightforward. You give your customer service reps time to ask any questions they want. This way, you can be sure that there are no unclear situations in which your reps don’t know how to act.
It’s important to create a proper atmosphere during Q&A sessions. Your reps have to understand that there are no stupid questions and that they can *truly* ask whatever they want related to their work, obviously.
Instructional training presentations are great for explaining complex concepts or when you’re introducing something new. During such presentations, you should go through all the steps from the Why, through How, all the way to What. And make sure that your customer service reps understand every idea behind what you’re talking about.
5. Sensitivity Training
Every company has certain values that form a core of what the company is and how it operates. These values need to be shared and respected by your employees not to create unnecessary conflicts or arguments.
Yet, as well all know, in the age of the diverse workforce, such situations will happen and thus you have to make sure everyone is aligned with the values your company shares.
To make sure your customer service team is up-to-date with these values, you can use sensitivity training. Sensitivity training works on a premise that for a team to work successfully each member has to be understood, as well as, has to understand the needs and values of the rest.
These training sessions may be hard to conduct at first but as time passes, your customer service reps will notice how big of a difference it makes. Make sure you create a friendly atmosphere that encourages everyone to share their values, needs, and objections.
It’s often believed that the workplace is not the proper spot to talk about one’s values and beliefs but if you make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding what each of you needs and expects, believe me, you’ll create a true dream team.
6. Customer Experience Simulation
While many of these customer service training ideas are just ideas, this one is a true must.
During the customer experience simulation, your customer service rep plays the role of a customer and goes through the entire process of setting up the account, ordering a product or conducting research via your brand’s resources.
This is quite similar to role-playing but here, instead of interacting with mock-customer, the customer service representative becomes the customer themselves.
Such simulation will help them understand what the customer has to do and identify pain points that they might struggle with. This way, your customer service reps will be able to better assist your customers and understand their issues and questions.
Plus, during such simulations, you and your team might come up with new ideas on how to improve certain processes or address certain issues with additional resources or changes.
7. Social Media Training
Social media is not all cats and photos of what you had for dinner. In fact, social media is a viable customer service channel.
What’s more, these days it doesn’t matter what industry you serve or where your audience – professionally – is. Nearly everyone has a Facebook account and thus your customers may want to connect with you via the same platforms as they’d contact their friends and family.
Because of how new social media is in regard to customer service it’d be great if you could provide social media training to your customer service reps.
It’s also important to equip your customer service team with proper tools that will help them stay on top of social media mentions and react whenever it’s needed.
8. Product Breakdowns
Your customer service reps must be experts on what your company is selling. Thus, you have to make sure they understand every little detail.
In the case of a physical product, this can be done by taking apart your product, showing all the components and explaining what each and every part does.
It’ll be also beneficial to walk them through the whole process of production so they can get a better understanding of why things act and look in a certain way. Plus, they can explain it in a richer and more entertaining manner to the clients.
While tearing down the physical product is almost always possible, it’s not that easy with software. Here, you should provide them with a full demo session so they can see exactly what your customers see.
Yet, you should also take them on a back-end tour so they can grasp the idea of how the product is being developed. This way, they won’t be afraid of technical questions and they’ll know why certain components work in a certain manner.
Understanding the product is the #1 step for any role no matter if it’s a developer, marketer or accountant. And yet, because your customer service reps have direct contact with your customers, they should be the ones who know all the ins and outs of what you produce and sell.
9. Corporate Culture Training
Corporate culture training is very similar to sensitivity training, although here, it’s all your company’s values and not your employees’ values (not that they don’t matter).
Why should you do it?
As mentioned before, customer service reps are real-life business cards of your company and that’s why it’s important that they understand and share your company’s values. That’s because if they don’t believe in what your company preaches then surely your customers won’t believe in it either.
Corporate culture training is only doable when you have certain values in place. To make sure these values are presented in a clear way, you can create a culture code.
Think of that as a dress code that is required by a certain place. Just like a restaurant may require that you wear a suit, you might require from your customers to share the love for, let’s say, reusable energy. If they share the same ideas as you do, then, presenting your product and assisting your customers, will come much easier.
10. Crisis Communication
Crises will happen, sooner or later, unfortunately…
But instead of whining and complaining, you can prepare your customer service team to deal with one when the time comes.
Take into account everything that can happen…
Your software may completely stop working… Scammers may steal all customer data… A giant rock might hit the Earth! ☄️
Create a universal framework that your customer service reps can use when such a situation happens.
Simulate such crises and disasters and train your reps so they can learn to handle stress – you can be sure that customers will be angry – and that they learn to assist even when the temperature gets high.
11. Mock calls
It’s a similar scenario as the one with mirrored listening. Its premise is to practice the job before doing the *actual* job. This way, your customer service reps will get more comfortable with certain scenarios and they’ll create an almost automatic response to particular issues and requests.
To do mock calls pair your customer service reps and handle certain scenarios to perform. Start with easy ones and advance to hard topics as time passes. Make sure that all of these scenarios are real-life situations that happened or have a high probability of taking place.
There’s no need for training for what’s impossible to happen.
Also, make sure you pair up expert team members with novices so they can learn more compared to if they had been training with – also – a newly hired rep.
By implementing mock calls training, your customer service reps will be much more confident which will be reflected in the quality of the service they provide.
12. No No’s Allowed
No is one of the harshest words a customer service rep can use when talking to a customer. While the ‘no’ itself is not that harsh, customers hate hearing the flat-out ‘no’ to their requests.
That’s why your customer service reps should learn how to say no without saying the actual word. This can be done by rephrasing the simple ‘no’ and other no-oriented phrases into full sentences that convey the same message but don’t say the harsh no.
To practice the art of saying no, separate your customer service team into pairs and role-play the scenarios in which a customer asks for something that the customer service rep has to say no to but without saying the no itself.
One of the most common situations, when customer service reps have to say no, is when customers ask for big discounts that the company doesn’t approve of.
How do you get out of such a situation without saying no?
Well, if your company does issue discounts, you may want to offer the lower one but you could also suggest a pricing plan that will suit both the needs of your customers, as well as, his budget.
13. Call review
Reviewing one’s call may seem like a little bit daunting task but that can be one of the best things you can do to improve customer service reps’ skills.
After all, feedback is the most powerful tool to enhance one’s skills.
To perform a call review, gather the whole customer service team and go through call recordings of the previous customer support calls.
Again, use notes with timestamps to later get back to what needs to be improved or changed.
Here, let everyone take notes and discuss how things should be done. This way, you not only help one customer service rep who held that call but you involve everyone who’s on the team.
14. Lunch and Learn
Launch and learn is one of those customer service training ideas that will improve your customer service reps’ presentation skills. This, of course, will help when they have to onboard new customers or hold demo sessions.
As you’ve probably already guessed, most of the training ideas are all about creating safe environments in which customer service reps can learn new techniques, find the best way to tackle certain problems, and overall improve their skills.
Launch and learn will only work if your company holds group lunches but, you can obviously incorporate them into your daily routine after reading this article!
During such group lunches, one of the customer service reps has to hold a presentation in front of everyone else. While this might seem daunting, getting good at public speaking and public presentations, will greatly improve their overall performance and help them when the time for a demo session comes.
These presentations don’t have to be necessarily work-related. They can talk about their hobbies, their recent trips or about the book they recently read. The point is to pick a topic and present it in a way that’s enticing and easy to understand.
15. Personality Tests
Personality tests are a great way to understand how a person reacts to certain situations and how do they like to work and in what manner. Personality tests are, of course, not only a domain of customer service but by getting to know your customer service reps personality type, you can better understand their needs, preferences, and strong and weak sides.
You can use this knowledge to better manage your customer service reps and assign them to tasks that will suit their skillset.
There’s no one test that will tell you everything about another person but one of the most popular personality tests on the web (and presumably one of the most accurate) can be found on 16personalities.
This knowledge will also help you in better understanding your employees on an emotional level.
Sooner or later, some conflicts will happen inside your company. Someone will be upset and you’ll have to cope with that. With the previously acquired knowledge about their personality type you’ll know how to react, what words to say, and – in the first place – you’ll know exactly why that other person is upset.
16. Call Your Competitor
As Shep Hyken says: “Your customers no longer compare you to your competitor. They compare you to the best service they ever had… from anyone.”
Well, taking that into account you have to be at least as good as your competitors are! And one way to do that is by getting to know your competitors.
To do that, let your customer service reps call the support center of your competitors and test their service.
Of course, it’s important to mention that this training exercise has nothing to do with mocking your competitors or taking their time on purpose. No. All you want to do is to check who’re you competing with.
Take notes on how they deal with certain questions, what is their onboarding process, how do they hold demo sessions and all the little details that make up for good customer interaction.
By getting to know your competitors you have a better understanding of how good you have to be to stand out from the crowd. And, it can be a great source of new ideas to improve your customer service. After all, good artists copy, great artists steal.
17. Employee Testimonials
You’re probably familiar with customer testimonials but have you ever heard about employee testimonials?
Well, if you haven’t, here’s a brand new customer service training idea to onboard newly hired reps.
Namely, your most experienced customer service reps are true mines of knowledge. They have dealt with hundreds if not thousands of customers, have gone through all the issues your customers had and have solved dozens of cases and problems that have been reported. And that’s what makes them the ones who know your product the best.
You should use that knowledge to create so-called employee testimonials that can work as an introductory resource for your new reps. They’ll get to know all the bumps that are ahead of them, as well as, will get to know ready-to-apply solutions to many customer problems.
Such testimonials can be turned into guides, cheatsheets, and instructions. No matter which type of materials you decide on, your customer service reps will greatly benefit from them.
18. Attitude Anchors
As we’ve already established, bad things will happen in the day-to-day work of your customer service team. That’s why you have to find a way to keep a positive mood, as well as, have a way to quickly repair the mood if it goes in the wrong direction.
One way to do so is by splitting your customer service team into two separate groups. One has to think of so-called maintenance anchors. These are the actions that the whole team can take to maintain a positive attitude. All of these things will help them create a more friendly and happy environment to work in and will keep your reps motivated during the customer calls.
The second group has to think of so-called repair anchors. These are all the actions that can be taken when the mood has gone in the wrong direction. Not every call will go well and that’s when it will be hard to maintain a positive attitude. Repair anchors should help do a quick 180 in the room and keep everyone on the bright side.
After both teams are done with their lists, switch the teams and let the other group refine the other team’s list by adding new suggestions.
Then, when both teams are done, hang both lists on the wall where they will be easily accessible to the whole team. Whenever the situation requires it, your customer service reps will know what to do with a quick peek at one of the lists.
19. Customer Letters
Customer letters are a great way to make your customer service reps feel appreciated.
The thing is the work of a customer service rep is not all roses. You work hard trying to assist each and every customer, be accessible whenever you can, and maintain calm when others yell at you for something that you haven’t done.
All of the above can lead to customer service reps feeling that they’re not appreciated by their customers or their managers and executives.
One way to cope with that is by writing customer letters.
Make your customer service reps think of times when they have helped their customers the most. Surely, there have been times when they have heard “Wow! You really saved my day!” or “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help.”.
Help them recall those times when customers truly and vocally appreciated their work. By trying to role-play customers who received excellent service from them, they’ll feel that they actually have a very positive impact on their customers. And that their actions matter and are appreciated.
20. Good and bad customer service experiences
This is the type of customer service training ideas that could be summed up as a brainstorming session that should help your team provide excellent customer service. How?
First, you have to split your team into groups of two or three people. Then, all they have to do is think and talk about the best customer service experiences they had, as well as, about the worst services they have ever received.
Not only should they think about it but also break it down into smaller factors that made a particular interaction excellent or awful.
After they’re done with the recalling process, all the groups can go back to the initial team. Now, everyone should say what were their experiences and what made them so good or so bad.
Using a whiteboard to write down all these factors under the poor customer service and excellent customer service sections.
Then, all you have to do is analyze these factors and find common patterns. Of course, do it as a whole team, not just you or your reps.
Oftentimes, you’ll come to the conclusion that there are a few, certain things that customer service reps do to make the experience pleasant. And the same goes for the bad experience. The tone of voice, speed, clarity, these qualities will probably be major in both cases.
No matter what your findings are, make sure to incorporate what you’ve learned to the day-to-day practice of your reps. After all, why not just replicate the best customer service you’ve ever received and provide it to others?
21. Communication skills training
Communication is one of the most important factors in the work of a customer service rep and that’s why you should make sure, your reps are on-point when it comes to it.
To train communication skills you have to first, set a certain standard that you want your company and its employees to provide and second, make sure everyone is aligned with these standards.
At this point, a good thing to do is to go through these standards with your whole customer service team. They might have a different opinion on some of them and it might turn out that in your case some of these principles and rules don’t make sense.
When you have a ready list, start practicing and make sure everyone remembers how to properly communicate during the calls, on-site meetings, or demo sessions.
22. Suggestions for improving customer service
Feedback is king. And if you have been managing people or running a business for long enough you know that!
And that’s why you shouldn’t underestimate feedback that your customer service reps can give you. Oftentimes when we’re only trying to manage employees instead of walking in their shoes there happen serious misalignments between what we expect from them and what they can or should do.
There are hundreds of ways to collect feedback from your employees. The #1 thing you have to remember is that you have to convey why feedback is important and why they shouldn’t be scared in providing feedback, no matter whether it’s positive or negative.
Also, by doing the above, you’ll create a culture in which your employees are not scared of you giving them 1-on-1 feedback session and they’ll gladly share their perspective with you.
To learn more about feedback in the workplace, check out this piece of ours. It goes in-depth on the best sources of feedback in the workplace, as well as, explains how to effectively collect it.
Some easy-to-introduce ways of collecting feedback are:
- intranet posts
- team meetings
- suggestion boxes
Find out what works best for your people and introduce it gradually.
23. The Ice Breaker
Introducing new hires to the team can be awkward (for both sides) and is oftentimes a gradual process that takes time.
Yet, with theses quick customer service training ideas, you can introduce your new reps to the team in less than 15 minutes. How?
What bonds people are similarities. If you find out that you have something in common with another person, it’ll be much easier to connect.
So, the Ice Breaker session last about 15 minutes and consist of three rounds during which participants share their:
- One thing that they have in common.
- One thing that they’re proud of.
- One time when they came back from shopping having bought much more than they planned. (We all did that, okay?)🤦♂️
To kick off this training session, divide the team into pairs and make them swap the partner after each round. One round is one question from 1-3.
After 15 minutes, you should have new hires mixed with your regular employees. Now, everyone has something in common, knows some facts about their coworkers and thus talking and working together will be much easier and pleasant!
Acronyms is a fun and simple customer service training activity that will bond your reps. And that will happen because teams that are working together towards one goal make it their default mode and find it easier to work with each other.
So, to kick off the Acronyms session, come up with an overarching topic that then will help you come up with the rest of the words for it. Such a topic may be ‘excellent customer service’ and the words for it would be ‘speed’, ‘accuracy’, and ‘positive’.
When you have your topic and your words, split your customer service team into groups of three to five people and give each team a word related to the chosen topic. With their word or phrase, give each group two minutes to create an acronym, by coming up with a word for each initial letter that is relevant to the topic.
To spice things up you can set a price for the best acronym but if your teams are already well-established, they’ll have fun either way.
25. Ping Pong
To do this customer service idea, you’ll need a table, two tennis bats 🏓, and… I’m joking, I’m joking.
Ping pong, in regards to customer service training, is a fun game that teaches your reps better listening and communication skills.
This is how you do it:
First, your team has to split into pairs. Then, when everyone is ready, reps kick it off by counting from one to three, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, etc., but alternating between the two. Once everyone gets it, you add additional rules to spice it up!
First, you can substitute ‘one’ for a hand clap (clap-2-3, clap-2-3).
Then, substitute ‘two’ for an action – e.g. nod (clap-nod-3, clap-nod-3)
Finally, substitute ‘three’ for a sound – e.g. yeah (clap-nod-yeah, clap-nod-yeah)
After your whole office sounds like you want to summon a demon, go back to 1-2-3, 1-2-3 and introduce new steps.
Because each rep has to carefully listen to what other person is saying, their listening skills get much better. And this, of course, will help them while talking to their clients over the phone.
26. Over to You
Over To You is a customer service activity that combines feedback with getting your customer service reps more involved in the life and development of your company.
Namely, what you do as a trainer is come up with a bunch of “what would you do” type of questions. This could be:
If this was your business, what would you do?
If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do?
The point is to get them involved as much as you can. As we’ve talked before, customer service reps are the ones who have a very unique perspective on your business. That is the clients’ perspective combined with the inside of your business.
That’s why you should use their knowledge to improve your business and, at the same time, make them happy. Because nothing makes an employee happier than seeing their own ideas happening live.
27. Create a team newsletter
Staying on top of what everyone has to do is a hard task, especially when you work remotely or manage a big customer support team.
One way that companies cope with that is by introducing weekly or daily email newsletters which work as sort-of reminders, as well as, make sure everyone is up-to-date with what they have to do.
For example, the company Front sends a daily email, called the Weather Report, to their entire team. The email is a business health check, covering revenue, churn, new customers, etc.
By including all of the above details, as well as, to-do lists, and, if you can, additional resources such as articles, lectures, whitepapers, you can create a newsletter that every employee will be waiting for!
Which customer service training ideas are your favorite?
Long list, am I right?
Incorporating all of them into the work of your customer service team would probably take you a good half of a year, taking into account you’d introduce one activity per week. And that’s why you should pick a few of your favorite customer service training ideas and teach your team those.
Also, as you could see, some will work best if you have new hires to introduce, some will be better for established teams, and so on.
Thus, picks what suits you and your team best and, well, train!🏋️