By Kristen Meletio Kmetz, Regional Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
Companies often make the mistake of investing in customer service training without thinking about their overall strategy or goals. What outcome is the company looking for? What are you going to measure to determine success or impact? Without taking these necessary steps, the company will have no way of knowing how the training may impact its organization. Was your revenue boosted by the training or by the new gym renovation? You won’t know where to invest your time, effort, and money unless you have a plan prior to starting your customer service training initiative.
The pre-planning stage consists of several steps. First, a company should evaluate how much it will cost to achieve its goals. Second, it must consider whether the training goals are inline with the company’s overall vision. And third, the company should determine if the benefits of the customer service training are going to outweigh the cost. Once these things are considered, it is time to set goals for the training.
To get started, you must ensure the training is outlined in a way that will help the company achieve its goals. It is important, especially if the company is using an outside resource for customer service training, that this be communicated prior to a final commitment or contract.
When setting these goals, it’s also important to make sure they are measurable. Things to consider include:
It is important to know that consistency promotes accurate results. For example, when a person goes on a diet, but only follows that diet three days out of every week, the scale will not lie by saying, “Hey, you may as well go get a Big Mac, because your clothes are falling off!” Honestly, how will you know this diet is working for you? By continuing to monitor food intake and your amount of exercise on a consistent basis. The same is true with establishing company goals and tracking success.
Why are there goals at the end of a soccer field, football field, or a basketball court? We have goals in sports so we can determine what the final score is and who won the game. Once a company has established clear guidelines for its customer service training, considered the parameters of the goal setting, and ensured these goals can be consistently measured, it can begin to consider what options it has for determining the results of the training.
Is the company increasing the number of leads, thus increasing its overall conversion ratio? This is an important question to ask and answer. Your employees should be mindful of their conversion ratio, which is simply how often they are turning an inquiry into a sale. A spike in overall company sales is a great way to measure the results of your training. Measuring the training against increased sales helps establish the ROI for the training.
Expectations Matter, Too
While ROI is certainly important, make sure to also consider the Return on Expectations (ROE). What results do you expect other than increased revenue? One way of measuring the results of the customer service training is through customer retention numbers. Another might be measuring employee turnover. When I am working with a client and there are new employees each time I return, I know there is probably something going on internally. When something is out of alignment internally, I also am certain the customer is suffering. Customer service training, when done properly, can help realign your company. By reducing the number of complaints a company has, it, in turn, makes the job of an associate much easier. Additionally, from a management perspective, we all know when the boss is happy, everybody is happy. Happier employees and happier management lead to happier customers.
Reducing complaints is a normal expectation for a company engaging in customer service training and there are different ways to track complaints. For example, a company may decide to utilize comment cards or customer surveys. Unfortunately, many customers will not complain to anyone who actually can help them, so, in turn, the employee may continue to repeat the same mistake. The complaint may end up in a review online or may be shared with family and friends. So now you have employees who are making customers unhappy and customers who are detracting rather than promoting your business. A good question to ask your customers, whether it is face-to-face, over the telephone, or on comment cards is, “What is the one thing we could do to make your experience in doing business with us even better?” This open-ended question allows customers to voice their opinions freely, and it can provide great insight as long as you capture enough information from enough customers, track the data consistently, and address any complaints and concerns promptly. This also will help ensure your employees are learning from mistakes and will show your customers you are committed to them and their business.
By investing in customer service training, employees will learn skills to provide better service up front and also uncover ways to reduce customer dissatisfaction. The employee contribution is only part of the equation. A company must do its part by completing the pre-planning, goal setting, measurement, and readjustment phases. This helps keep business nimble and responsive and ensures you are working toward concrete and achievable goals. Success is a moving target, and readjustments should be anticipated and allowed for. Most important, you should approach customer service training as part of a larger process and understand it will provide the greatest impact when it is integrated as part of your overall strategy for the organization.
Kristen Meletio Kmetz is a regional training account manager with Signature Worldwide, a provider of training solutions for a wide range of service-based industries. She can be reached at email@example.com 614.766.5101. To learn more about Signature Worldwide, visit http://www.signatureworldwide.com.