Customers are the most important aspect of any business, firm, or organization. Employees deal with customers on a daily basis. Therefore, it is necessary for them to know how to deal with customers appropriately. Many organizations create customer loyalty by offering quality customer service (Bonomo, 2002). Quality service increases organizational value and develops customer loyalty that increases revenue.
Customer service training refers to a process of teaching employees how to increase customer satisfaction by imparting necessary knowledge and skills (Bonomo, 2002). New employees are the main target of many organizations for customer service training. The content of a typical training course includes communication styles, listening, giving feedback, appropriate use of language, and handling different types of customers (Bonomo, 2002).
Training for employees is recommended because it improves customer loyalty, improves an organization’s efficiency, motivates employees and makes them feel valued, and improves organizational value (Bonomo, 2002).
Use of a needs assessment in the training
The main objective of a needs assessment in an organization’s training program is to identify performance weaknesses and necessary knowledge and skills needed to eradicate the weaknesses (Barbazette, 2006). It identifies the gap between current levels of performance and desired levels of performance.
A needs assessment directs organizational resources to areas that have weaknesses and others that need improvement. A needs assessment should address existing weaknesses and identify resources necessary to eradicate the weakness in order to improve service delivery (Barbazette, 2006).
A needs assessment exposes performance deficiencies in several ways. First, it identifies capabilities of each employee and their ability to handle different or new tasks and responsibilities (Barbazette, 2006). Individual assessments determine which employees need training, and in which areas.
The needs assessment helps an organization evaluate the skills and knowledge of individual employees in order to determine how to improve their performance and productivity (Barbazette, 2006). Secondly, it helps determine level of organizational performance (Barbazette, 2006). Such assessment determines the skills and knowledge needed by an agency to achieve desired outcomes.
Needs assessment helps solve the agency’s weaknesses and enhance its strengths. Such an assessment puts into consideration factors external to the organization such as state of economy and market forces. Thirdly, needs assessment helps expose performance deficiencies by conducting task analysis (Barbazette, 2006).
Task analysis involves evaluating knowledge and skills needed by occupational groups to achieve organizational goals. For example, it helps find out if an organization has employees with skills and knowledge required to create customer loyalty through quality customer service. Moreover, it helps identify performance gaps that might have resulted from changes in organizational policies (Barbazette, 2006).
Identification of performance gaps is followed by development of ways to eradicate the gaps. Fourthly, needs assessment helps expose performance deficiencies by evaluating customer needs and level of customer satisfaction (Barbazette, 2006). Customer satisfaction implies that employees possess necessary skills and knowledge to satisfy customers. This is evident from customers’ positive feedback.
However, if customers give negative feedback, then they are not satisfied with the organization’s service delivery. One of the causes of customer dissatisfaction is performance deficiency (Barbazette, 2006). This necessitates development of customer service training for employees to improve quality of customer service.
Customer service training implementation plan
Implementation of customer service training will involve four main steps. The first step is identification of customers’ needs. Identification of customer needs and expectations is the most important aspect of implementing the customer service training (Kamin, 2012). This will be achieved by collecting information from customers using questionnaires and interviews.
In addition, customers will be requested to leave reviews of their experiences with employees on the organization’s website. Alternatively, the organization could hire a survey firm to conduct a customer satisfaction survey (Kamin, 2012). If this option is explored, the survey will include information about customer satisfaction and interaction with employees.
The second step will involve evaluation of individual employee’s knowledge and skills. This will be achieved through methods such as observation, questionnaires, interviews, documentation, and use of focus groups (Kamin, 2012). Employees will be observed to evaluate how they interact with customers, and the quality of customer service they provide.
Employees will also participate in interviews in order to give management a chance to evaluate their customer interaction skills. The third step is design and implementation of an appropriate training method (Kamin, 2012). Available methods of training include presentation, case study, simulation, modeling, role-play, on-the-job training, and discussion. In this case, the most appropriate training method is blended training method.
The fourth step is reevaluation of employee service delivery to determine whether the training was useful or not. Employee evaluation will be administered every three to four months. Many organizations evaluate employee performance twice a year.
Evaluation will involve collecting and analyzing responses from employees on effectiveness of training. In addition, it will involve study of how customer service delivery improved due to employee training. Evaluation is necessary because it will help the organization determine employees’ level of compliance with the organization’s protocol on customer service (Kamin, 2012).
Employees are likely to work harder with the awareness that their knowledge and skills are under constant evaluation by management. This is one of the strategies employees use to increase chances of retaining their jobs by increasing their knowledge and honing their skills.
The preferred method of training is blended learning method. This method is based on the fact that employees have different learning abilities and it would be limiting and ineffective to use a single training method. This approach will incorporate several methods into the training program. These methods will include role-playing, group discussions, and use of multimedia materials.
Role-playing is a very effective training method because it involves rehearsing situations that are likely to happen at the workplace between employees and customers (Kamin, 2012). This training method will help employees learn how to virtually handle different situations before they encounter them in reality at the workplace. The method will involve formation of groups comprising two employees each.
One of the employees will pretend to be a customer and the other one will play the role of an employee. They will then rehearse different situations such as how to deal with a pestering or angry customer. Group discussion is another effective training method that will be used. It is an effective method because it facilitates open sharing of information and knowledge (Sims, 2007).
This method is effective in cases where some employees possess more knowledge and skills than others. In such cases, skilled and more knowledgeable employees pass knowledge to other employees and thus improve effectiveness of the training (Kamin, 2012). This method promotes active participation of employees in the training.
Moreover, use of discussions encourages exchange of feedback between learners and the trainer (Sims, 2007). The trainer is able to know whether learners are grasping the content of the training. This enables the trainer determine which areas need more attention and which areas need less attention. Some employees are shy or uncomfortable when working in groups.
Therefore, use of multimedia materials is necessary to cater for the learning needs of such employees. Multimedia training materials provide graphics, demonstrations, animations, and sound. Research has shown that this training method is very challenging and therefore more stimulating than other methods (Sims, 2007).
Advantages of this method include ease of customization and use, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and efficiency (Sims, 2007). Multimedia is an example of a computer-based programme that has several benefits. In addition, it is flexible because learners learn at their own pace.
Different employees have different learning capabilities and needs. Therefore, all employees undergo training without being rushed. Moreover, the instructor can easily determine what each employee has learned at certain periods during the course of training.
This is possible because it is easy to monitor progress of employees. Finally, multimedia materials improve learning and participation (Sims, 2007). Some learners are shy and do not participate in discussions. Multimedia materials that incorporate interactive activities such as answering questions and making critical decisions eliminate fear and shyness.
There are many ways of motivating employees who lack interest in attending training classes. Two common ways include funding the training course and making it a requisite component for promotion and remuneration (Sims, 2007). Many employees fail to attend training programs because many organizations usually expect employees to pay for training.
However, this discourages employees from attending because they consider such training a waste of valuable time and money. Organizations should set aside enough resources for such training. Employees are more willing to undergo training when they know that the organization is responsible for costs incurred.
Secondly, the organization could motivate employees to undergo training by making such training a requisite for promotion or as basis for remuneration increase. Many organizations increase employees’ wages based on skills and knowledge possessed (Sims, 2007).
Customer service training is one source of such skills and knowledge that contribute towards promotions. With knowledge that promotion depends on such training, all employees choose to undergo training in order to increase their chances of promotion.
A survey to collect feedback from employees
After implementing a training program, it is important to evaluate the training in order to determine its effectiveness in increasing employee knowledge and improving customer service.
This is achieved by conducting a survey that collects information related to employee training. A survey to collect feedback from employees on the effectiveness of training will contain 10 questions. Employees who participated in the training will be required to answer ten questions based on personal experience.
- What was the most important aspect of the training?
- How was the training of help to you?
- Did the trainer achieve the goals of the training?
- How has the training helped you serve customers better?
- Has the training changed you in any way?
- How could the training be improved for better results?
- Did the instructor cover all parts of the training program?
- Was the method used for training suitable?
- Would you consider attending similar training in future?
- How do you think the training benefited you and the organization?
Employees will be required to answer these questions based on personal opinion and experience. The questions are open-ended and give employees opportunity to give honest answers that will help the organization improve training in future.
Customer service training is used by many organizations to improve service delivery in order to create customer loyalty and improve organizational value. Such training imparts knowledge on certain aspects of customer relation such as proper use of language, how to deal with different customers, use of body language, and adoption of appropriate communication skills.
Customers are the most important aspect of an organization’s operations. A training program incorporates a needs assessment in its list of activities. The main aim of a training needs assessment in an organization is to identify performance weaknesses and the knowledge and skills needed to eradicate the weaknesses. It helps direct organizational resources to areas that have many weaknesses and thus in need of improvements.
Assessment is conducted at various levels that include organizational level and individual level. Several methods are available for use during training. However, the most effective training method is the blended training method. This approach incorporates several training methods in order to serve the learning needs of all employees. Many employees fail to attend training because of lack of motivation.
Two ways to motivate such employees include funding the training and incorporating the training as part of requirements for promotion and wage increase. Many employees shun training programs because organizations expect them to cover training expenses. However, organizations should take it as their duty to improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.
Barbazette, J. (2006). Training Needs Assessment: Methods, Tools, and Techniques. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Bonomo, T. (2002). Customer Service: Aiming for Excellence. New York: Trafford on Demand Publishers.
Kamin, M. (2012). Customer Service Training. New York: Routledge.
Sims, R. (2007). Human resource Management: Contemporary Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities. New York: IAP.