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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Roberts

Seven Key Steps to Teaching Customer Service Standards

We are focused on Customer Service this month of October, and this week’s topic is focused on how to teach your team their new customer service standards.

So far in this series, we talked about

· Why some businesses are great at customer service, and some are not.

· Customer service standards and what they are.

I gave you some examples of excellent customer service standards from some awesome companies and tips on creating customer service standards for your organization.

Invest In the Team

Now that we have a set of customer service standards – how do we get the team members to execute them?

The bottom line is they need training. As we talked about in our first video – companies that provide good customer service invest in their team.

Now you may be thinking – invest – I just need them to do the stuff to make our customers happy. And that is definitely true. But you are also investing in their growth and skill set.

I’ll use myself as an example. I was given a great customer service gift early in my career when I was hired at Walt Disney World. The training and expectations instilled in me in high school and college during my time with the company set me up for a lifetime of providing excellent customer service to others no matter where I worked and in what industry. Customer service is an investment into your team. You and your team must understand that reality. Once you learn a better way – it’s hard to revert to providing poor customer service no matter where you work.

If you’ve never set customer service expectations for your team, you will need to have a training session for everyone. I mean everyone – no one gets out of the training. Customer service is for everyone in the organization, even if they don’t have direct contact with customers! The standards can be used on how to engage with co-workers and provide service to other departments.

Depending on the work you do, you may have to stagger the dates and times of the training because everyone can’t be out at the same time. In other businesses, you might be able to close the office for a day of training or staff development. You need to evaluate what will work for you.

Customer Service Training Day

What do you do on the training day? I’m so glad you asked!

Seven Key Steps to Planning a Customer Service Training Event

Here are seven key elements and messages you want to include when you set up a time to train the team.

1. Choose a dynamic facilitator. You want someone upbeat and high-energy that the team will trust to set the tone for your customer service training event. Depending on your team and budget, you may want to bring in an outside individual who can help you strategize a path for creating a customer service culture that includes the facilitation of a training event for the team.

2. Explain why customer service is essential. This is a critical step. It sets the tone of - Why are we here at this training day? Be specific for your business, nonprofit, or industry. Here are a few examples: customer service is vital for customer retention, word of mouth advertising, to differentiate from the competition, is part of our organization’s value system. You might want to have the team give feedback on good and bad customer service experiences they have encountered to get them talking and engaging.

3. Review the new customer service standards you have developed and explain what each one means in detail. You may want to consider a handout that each team member can keep at their work area to remind them of these standards if appropriate for your workplace. At a minimum, you could put a poster in an employee break area as a customer service reminder.

4. Give specific examples and role-play situations specific to your business – have the team point out where the customer service standards are used correctly and incorrectly.

5. Keep the training day fun and interactive with some games, treats, and prizes. Consider giving a small token giveaway for team members who engage by providing answers and feedback.

6. Set expectations that all team members will need to provide these moving forward and held accountable – more on that in video four next week.

7. Empower your team to solve customer problems. Solving customer problems is outside the scope of your proactive customer service standards – and more about service recovery, but it’s a good idea to touch on it here. You don’t want your employees to engage with a manager every time they need to solve a customer’s issue. Look for ways the front-line staff can be empowered to solve problems.

I want to offer a word about online training for customer service. I’m a big proponent of doing customer service training in person. Honestly, I’ve never seen an initial customer service training session done online. Customer service is a team sport, and if you are looking to make information stick, providing this education experience in person is preferred. But I realize that is not the reality for some businesses and the remote work during the pandemic. You may have to make the best of a not great situation and live-stream this training.

If you must do this type of initial customer service experience online – I believe doing it live is a must. Emailing a recorded tutorial to the team is not going to have the same effect that an online live experience will have. Videos can definitely be part of the experience. Still, a go at your own pace, individual training is not the best way to set the expectation that customer service is a priority.

Use whatever techniques you can to get the team engaged online and providing feedback. You will have to get creative to find ways you can give small prizes and deliver enthusiasm online.

The good news is, you don’t have to do follow-up customer service training in person. As you continue to review these expectations with the team, it can be on a much smaller scale.

Maintain a Customer Service Culture

So what should you do to make sure these standards stick after your big team training event? I’m so glad you asked! That is coming up in next week’s fourth and final session on customer service – How to Maintain a Customer Service Culture.

Are you ready to develop a Customer Service Culture in your business or nonprofit? I can help. I can assist small and large organizations in establishing a Customer Service Culture by creating Customer Service Standards, Training the Team, and setting Customer Service Expectations.

Shoot me an email at to connect.

Don’t miss a minute of my free content on Marketing, PR, and Communications. You can find it here.

· Be the Boss of Your Brand Blog. It’s updated weekly.

· Join me Live in my Facebook group each Wednesday about noon-ish at PR and Marketing for Small Business Owners and Nonprofits.

· Check out the Back Porch Communications YouTube channel for weekly video lessons.

As always – I’m here to help.

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