Monthly Archives: January 2016

If you don’t want wasted time and effort

conscious competence modelWhen carrying out customer service training as well as sharing knowledge (e.g. about your products) we are developing skills, and skills require practice and feedback to get them right and build confidence.

During the training you would have established the standards, your expectations, and hopefully people will have had a chance to practise their skills in a safe environment.

But, sometimes the only way to really hone these skills and develop true competence is once applied on the job. It simply can’t always happen in the confines of the training room.

When we learn anything new we always begin at stage 1 on the conscious competence learning model, and end at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

At the point people finish training they are somewhere between consciously incompetent and consciously competent.

At consciously competent you still have to stop and think about how you do something, it doesn’t flow naturally. It takes longer and you’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as you get to grips with it all. Think of it as you were when you first passed your driving test.

So when you plan your training, schedule time to allow the team member(s) to practise and get feedback on how they are doing. It might still be on the job, but don’t expect them to be able to put everything into practice perfectly straight away. If you do you run the risk of losing their confidence. And when something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their old and familiar ways.

Result?

Wasted time and effort in the training.


Old habits die hard

Dont forgetYou know that frustration you feel when you ask someone in your team to do something differently, and although you know they know what to do for some reason they just don’t do it!

I managed to stall my car twice yesterday!

Not because I don’t know how to drive. It’s simply that I’d got out of the habit of changing gear, as I’d been driving an automatic for the past 18 months.

And it can be no different in the workplace. When you have not done something for a while people get out of the habit. So when you need them to go back to a previous way (maybe back to a standard that has recently slipped, or wasn’t such a priority for a while) you might need to build up people’s confidence again and start re-establishing the habit.

Of course when you stall the car you get instant feedback that you’re doing it wrong! But in the workplace it might be a little less obvious.

This doesn’t mean to say that you need to retrain people, but they night need a little bit of a helping hand, some feedback and maybe some coaching to get them back on track. And then keep an eye on them until the habit is firmly installed.



Seeing some results

Set precise goalsOne quick win for you when you’ve delivered customer service training is to agree on some specific actions you’d like to see as a result of the training.

Get your team’s commitment to these actions and allow them time to talk through how they’re going to achieve them and anything that might be standing in the way of that.

Allow a free and open dialogue to flush out any concerns they have or anything they know of which will make it difficult or even impossible for them to implement the training.

On a personal level this might include:

  • a lack of confidence or a concern they might make mistakes
  • a lack of clarity in which actions are part of their role opposed to anyone else’s.
  • they might not even see these as part of their role, but somebody else’s responsibility.

But even assuming a willingness on their part to implement what they’ve learnt there could be systems or processes preventing it, such as too much red tape, conflicting priorities with other departments or team members, or cumbersome computer software that hinders all their efforts.

Or maybe it’s simply down to a lack of resources: time pressures to do everything that is expected of them, not having the right tools and documentation to make it easy.

They might be things you don’t want to hear, but better to know about these now (and have an opportunity to put them right) than discover 2 weeks after the training that nothing has changed!



Give staff ownership

Here’s the 12th and final part in my 12 blog series onfreedom - empowerment

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

12. Ownership

Give individual team members ownership over particular tasks. This gives a sense of pride and ownership.

And with ownership comes the desire to get things right.

When individuals have one or two areas to focus on specifically it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise. This can take the pressure off you as this person then becomes the go to person instead of you.

Which invariably speeds things up for the customer too!

 

Download my Free Guide7 reasons 3d image clear
“7 Reasons why Customer Service Training Fails”



Enter Awards

Here’s part 11 in my 12 blog series onAward Winner

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

11. Enter Awards

Focus people’s attention on customer service by aiming for an award, competition or simply an internal league table. It can be great motivation for those with a competitive spirit: For internal reward this might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has the opportunity to recognise their particular skills and strengths.

External awards are a great way to give focus and recognition for the whole team. Keep your eye out for awards which are relevant to your business or your market. Just being nominated for an award is a great booster it itself.

And as they say “You’ve got to be in it to win it!”

 

If you’d like more ideas here are 28 Activities to Engage, Energise and Excite your Team in Customer Service28 activities to engage your team in customer service 1



Learn from Mistakes

Here’s part 10 in my 12 blog series onWhy?

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

10. Learn from Mistakes

In any business there are times when things don’t go according to plan or mishaps happen. Review some of the things that have not gone to plan over the past year.

Rather than dwelling on the negatives, reflect on what you and the team have learnt from these events. And ask how equipped are the team to deal with these situations if they happen again.

The more you can anticipate these and train your team in how to handle such situations the more confident they’ll be, and the more likely they’ll deal smoothly with anything else that gets thrown at them.

Even if you think it was a one off and unlikely to happen again your team might be aware of other ‘near misses’ or situations that are almost an accident waiting to happen!

So listen to your team and flush out any other potential risky situations. Then agree what steps you can take to avoid them or minimise their impact, so they are confident they will be better prepared next time!

Your goal is always to minimise the negative impact on the customer experience.

 

 

7 reasons 3d image clear

Download my Free Guide
“7 Reasons why Customer Service Training Fails”

 

 

 

 


Personal development

Here’s part 9 in my 12 blog series onstock-2

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

9. Personal development

The new year is a good time to take stock of the team’s development needs.

Not everyone wants to progress, but that doesn’t mean to say they don’t want to be stretched or given opportunities for new challenges. Add variety so they don’t become stagnant; a bored employee is unlikely to wow your customers!

Give them exposure to other aspects of your business and opportunity to experience different tasks which all leads to better understanding of your business as a whole and in turn creates confidence – for your team and your customers.

Identify and utilise people’s strengths, providing further development when needed to bring out the best in these areas.

Delegate and give some control and ownership, such as making people champions for specific areas. This gives them pride in what they do and they will appreciate that you’ve recognised where they do a good job, providing of course you’re careful not to overburden or just dump these tasks on them.

 

Download my Free Guide7 reasons 3d image clear
“7 Reasons why Customer Service Training Fails”

 

 

 


Systems and resources to support your customer service

Here’s part 8 in my 12 blog series onsystems

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

8. Systems and resources

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have systems in place which make it cumbersome for your customers? Or which mean people having to reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks; putting extra pressure on them, particularly those which have a direct impact on the customer, so the customer doesn’t get a consistent level of service?

Or is there so much red tape and to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down?

Do you have all the right equipment, tools, or even products?

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So test it frequently, and ask your team for their observations and any feedback they’ve had from customers. Very often the simplest of modifications is all that’s needed to make all the difference.

 

If you’d like more ideas here are 28 Activities to Engage, Energise and Excite your Team in Customer Service



Continuous improvement in Customer Service

Here’s part 7 in my 12 blog series onbar-chart

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

 

7. Continuous improvement

Customer Service isn’t something you tick off your list. It’s continually evolving, and there will always be little tweaks you can make to improve your service.

If you don’t do them already set up regular ‘buzz briefings’ which focus on customer service and continuous improvement, thus involving your team in discussions and spotting opportunities to improve service and make things easier for them to consistently deliver good service.

After all, many of them will spend more time with customers than you do and often spot things or hear things you might miss.

Each day (or as a minimum weekly) ask your team members for their feedback on the day to day operation and to come forward with suggestions on how things can be improved. Not just for the customer, but to make their lives easier too. Shaving 5 minutes off a task in one area can free up 5 more minutes to spend caring for customers elsewhere.

Even if you’ve tried something before and it hasn’t worked that doesn’t mean to say it’s not a good idea. Quash their ideas early on and they’ll be reluctant to come forward with suggestions in future.

 

Delivering great customer service is more than just a sheep dip exercise. read more here