Top 25 Customer Service Training Ideas from the Pros

Regardless of the kind of product or service you offer, or the type of business model that you have, customer service must be at the heart of every organization. Good customer service builds trust and loyalty, plus it gives you a competitive edge and makes you memorable. Every year, forward-looking companies invest a considerable sum of money to provide customer service training to their employees. To be sure that you are on the right track, we gathered the best customer service training ideas from the experts.

Customer Service Training Ideas

1. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes through role playing.

Amanda Thomas, Senior Director of Marketing, Liaison Technologies

It’s important to listen to feedback from real customers so that your business can identify the issues that need to be addressed and fixed.

Put your employees in a role playing situation and have them act as both customer and the employee. This way, they will have the chance to understand what it is like to be on both sides of the equation.

It’s important to train your employees to treat others how they would want to be treated. Realistically, we all want great service, right?

2. Create a fun customer service game.

Chavaz Kingman, Corporate Trainer, Author & CEO, Chavaz

Customer service should be fun, focused and continuous.

In order to keep customer service training fun, I once developed a “Jeopardy” game board with small rewards, such as snacks and candy bars. I used the common problems customers faced as the categories and given that there could be numerous resolutions, the best resolution was worth more on the board and therefore had a larger snack or candy bar reward.

My team loved the game show theme and they were able to retain the prescribed best practices of possible solutions to customer problems. By making customer service training fun, you bypass boredom and make training and information retention a fun event that simultaneously encourages team building.

But there is a good way to do it, and that is by offering good alternatives and options.

List the usual customer requests that you have to say ‘no’ to, and then come up with alternatives that you can communicate to him without saying ’no’. This will help you manage the situation gracefully.

4. Break down and learn from real-life case studies.

Monica Ortiz, Founder, Exceptional Life Institute

I have each person think of a scenario where something went wrong. For example, an irate customer they had to deal with. Write down exactly what was said and where the communication broke down.

Then looking at what they said and what the other person said, think about where you could have used listening and understanding, asking questions, and speaking clearly and succinctly better- in order to help change the situation.

It’s like a post-mortem of your calls, and you’re learning how to make adjustments to succeed better moving forward.

Calling a customer by name can help establish rapport and positively impact your customer’s experience with the company.

Apart from this activity, check out these other 20 customer service training ideas and activities for busy teams. They are short but impactful.

6. Hold a focus group to hear feedback straight from customers.

Chip Bell, Senior Partner, The Chip Bell Group

Conduct a focus group with customers, gather key comments, and use them to understand the voice of the customer. You can even bring in one of your more irate, vocal customers as a special guest during the training.

Then you can use the data from real complaints to help better your customer service.

7. Hold a ‘confidence burst’ where you focus on one positive behavior.

Karin Hurt and David Dye, Authors, Winning Well

Our favorite technique is to hold a ‘confidence burst’ where we pick a day to make a huge deal about one behavior (for example: nailing the first 10 seconds of the call). Every time someone does the behavior, you go nuts with a recognition, celebration and fun. We take pictures and share the stories of how the performing the behavior led to a great customer experience.

We teach managers to isolate, teach and reinforce the one or two specific behaviors that will lead to a “wow” customer experience, and then work to build confidence and competence so that they are second nature.

8. Implement an attractive rewards system.

Sean Desilva, Owner, Every Last Spot

Incentives maintain long-term performance. With customer service representatives, you want to condition the idea that a positive customer experience will come back to benefit them.

I let all of my representatives know that we randomly sample three of their calls every month and evaluate them for tone, knowledge, and helpfulness. The best call of the bunch wins a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant.

This is a way of building the lottery/prize complex into the incentive structure. And the $25 per month is well worth it for the tremendous increase in service quality and reduction in complaints.

9. Get the management involved.

Tom Borg, Founder, Tom Borg Consulting

One of the best ways to make sure your training has an impact is what I do with all of my clients: request that the decision maker and all higher ups are included some way with the training.

It might be that they actively attend all or some of the sessions. It might be where they attend the final session and distribute the completion certificates. The key is they validate the training their employees or team has participated in.

10. Hold mock phone calls to improve telephone skills.

Anne Obarski, Professional Speaker and Trainer, Merchandise Concepts

A telephone call might provide a customer’s first impression on your company- so make sure that you create a good first impression to pave the way for a long-term business relationship. Practicing through mock phone calls will help your employees prepare for real phone conversations with clients.

Here are some good tips to remember: it is important to use the right tone and pitch of voice, as well as make use of clear words to avoid misunderstandings. Smiling can also be ‘felt’ from your voice and will go a long way in creating a positive experience with your customer.

Here are more tips for better telephone skills.

11. Gather insights from other companies with exceptional customer service.

Chip Bell, Senior Partner, The Chip Bell Group

Allow participants a short local field trip to visit a company with renowned customer service. Ask them to come back prepared to report on what they learned and how they would apply their learnings to their work.

12. Make exceptional customer service a fundamental part of the job description.

Micah Solomon, Author

You can bring out your front-liner’s customer service potential fully by communicating their purpose clearly from the very start. Do not let them lose sight that their most important function is to provide a positive and pleasant customer experience each and every time.

When they know that they are being paid to provide good service, and that their performance and benefits are based on this measure, they will personally go the extra mile to help achieve your company’s exceptional customer service vision.

13. Teach the technical know-how’s of your product.

Shannon Peffer, Training and Development Manager, PrimePay

From a technical training standpoint, the more our frontline staff knows and understands about the product, the better they are able to service the client. This reduces errors and allows them to respond to client requests. We plan ahead to prepare them for commonly asked questions regarding each topic.

14. Train your team on how to use the correct online tone of voice.

Abhiroop Basu, Zendesk

In an age where the majority of business conversations occur over email, chat, or other textual medium, online communication is becoming more important. The use of words, emoticons, punctuation marks, and colloquialisms, can be interpreted by the reader either positively or negatively.

According to studies, 65% of customers prefer a casual tone, but there is still a line between casual and too casual. Also, customers prefer a more serious and formal tone when their request is being denied.

It is essential that your customer service team understands this, and more companies need to include training on how to satisfy customers using the right tone of voice.

15. Look after your staff by hosting fun events and they will take care of your customers.

Daniel Foster, Head of Customer Care, FM Outsource

One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Branson who said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t”. If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers.

We arrange lots of events throughout the year to keep our employees happy, the highlight being our Family Weekend where we invite all employees to attend an all-expenses paid weekend camping festival and they bring their families along too. We recognize that family is important to people so we want to spread the love further than just our employees.

Customer Service Training Topics:

16. Identify the important customer service skills that you need.

Jacqueline Thomas, Fit Small Business

The first step is to pinpoint the skills your customer service representatives should be equipped with. This will give you a good idea of the customer service training that you should prioritize.

This article enumerates the most important characteristics of a customer service rep, such as the ability to go the extra mile, listening and written communication skills, the ability to stay calm and collected, etc. Check it out and compare it with your own list.

17. Focus on greetings and first impressions.

Adam Toporek, Customer Service Expert, CTS Service Solutions

Studies say that you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression, and we all know how important making a strong first impression is.

Companies aiming to strengthen their customer service game should put more weight into their greetings. Train your team to have a positive and consistent greeting so that each client’s experience with your company starts off on the right foot.

18. Effective communication is always important.

Monica Ortiz, Founder, Exceptional Life Institute

It starts with what I call Effective Communication. I teach that Effective Communication is equal parts speaking, listening and understanding, and asking questions. And in customer service, effective communication is super important — customers are calling in angry or with problems and they want to feel understood.

When I work with companies, I find that the missing part in most people’s communication is asking questions which does not bode well for a customer service team.

19. Genuinely care for your customers and treat them with kindness and respect.

Roberta Perry, Owner, ScrubzBody

For us, customer loyalty is everything. We believe that being genuine and truly caring about their buying and using experience is key.

As a brick and mortar, we love being involved in the neighborhood as well. These are the things we train our employees in. Kindness. Gratitude. Thoughtful conversation and caring. Most importantly, respect.

We also treat our employees really well, because brand loyalty should not just extend to customers. It needs to be part of the employee culture as well.

20. Understand proper customer service etiquette in order to keep customers coming back.

Lisa Mirza Grotts, Certified Etiquette Expert and Author, The AML Group

A good salesperson can sell anything, but keeping the customer coming back for more is the key to measuring success. These days, promotions galore are getting customers in the door, but are they repeat customers? Making a customer happy is not always easy, so what can we do to help?

  • Think before you speak
  • First impressions create lasting impressions
  • Be polite, creative, honest, and thorough
  • Follow up

Remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

21. Handle customer complaints effectively.

Amanda Herder, Account Manager, Signature Worldwide

Being on the frontline means being on the receiving end of an irate customer’s vents and and frustrations. Without proper training, the situation can catch any well-meaning customer service representative off-guard and at a loss for the best way to respond.

It is crucial that you provide training on how to handle customer complaints in a calm and professional manner. This can turn a negative experience into an opportunity to gain loyal customers.

This article provides 5 strategies for how to handle customer complaints to help you produce a win-win outcome.

22. Make good customer service part of your corporate philosophy.

Shep Hyken, Customer Service and Experience Expert, Hyken

Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone in an organization- from the CEO to the most recently hired. So, everyone must be trained.

Yes, the front line will be trained differently than someone in the warehouse. The point is that everyone in an organization knows the role they play in contributing to the customer’s experience, as well as the service they provide inside the organization.

23. Build meaningful business relationships.

Dorie Clark, Consultant and Author, Dorie Clark

Some people are just instantly likeable and developing good relationships seem to come easily to them. The good news is: the ability to build relationships can be trained.

Authentic business relationships are crucial for your organization’s sustainability and growth. Clients who feel a deep connection with your company will not shift to your competitor, and will be more loyal to you.

Your customer service representatives or anyone who talks to your clients need to be trained on how to build meaningful business relationships.

24. Good coaching skills help motivate team members.

Terry Traut, CEO, Entelechy- Unleash Your Leadership Potential

To create the most effective customer service agents, look to your customer service supervisors and managers. We all know that it takes passionate, empowered, engaged customer service agents to enrich the customer experience.

But where do those passionate, empowered, engaged agents come from? They come from skilled leaders who know how to create a performance-driven customer experience culture and who know how to develop this skill in their employees through coaching.

25. Have a situational approach to problems.

Gregory Ciotti, HelpScout

Responding to a client’s concerns and problems must be based on the circumstances. It should be a conversation, instead of a cold, lifeless script. Training your frontliners on how to handle each situation will ensure the proper course of action and can lead to higher customer satisfaction.

This article provides guidelines on how to handle some common customer service scenarios.

Over To You

Effective training will help unleash your organization’s exceptional customer service potential. Plus, happy and satisfied customers will help propel your business to greater heights. When it comes to good customer service, everyone wins: you, your customers, and your employees.

We would love to hear your customer service training ideas! Let us know in the comments section below.

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