January 10, 2011 | Leave a Comment
Customer service is often the most misunderstood, underfunded, and disconnected area of the corporation. These limitations are to the detriment of the enterprise however, and a refined and technologically proficient customer service staff will ultimately help improve the bottom line.
The logic here is that the customer service area is often the first point of contact—and in some cases, the only point of contact a customer has with the company. Within your enterprise, you may well have several different divisions, and your HR department may have gone to great lengths to create job descriptions that pigeonhole staff members according to a variety of arbitrary definitions. “We don’t do that here. You have to go talk to the warehouse” (or whatever department is responsible). No customer wants to hear that!
The fact is, your customer wants a single point of contact. They don’t want to be transferred to the warehouse, or the accounting department, or anywhere else—they want a single, well-educated and knowledgeable person to solve their problem, no matter what it is. This is done by educating your customer service staff.
In fact, your customer service people should be the most knowledgeable people in your company. Rather than a stovepiped organization with divisional knowledge, create a broader-based organization with institutional knowledge. A good customer service staff person should know more than just the basics, and what’s in the manual. They need to be trained and cross-trained so that they understand everything about the organization.
Creating a professional customer service organization isn’t an easy task—it requires careful planning, attention to hiring practices, competitive pay rates, and of course, regular training. Within the customer service area, there are actually several different types of training that are required to optimize the customer service function. Personnel should be trained to answer technical questions and take orders, obviously. But beyond that, training can be a continuous process. Because the customer service staff represents the company, they are unofficial salespeople as well. They may not be part of the official sales staff, but a good customer service organization will nonetheless generate sales just over the course of taking calls. Training on new product lines will allow those staff members to offer upgrades when the opportunity arises, offer complementary products and services, and much more. As such, the customer service staff should be afforded the same type of sales training that the regular sales staff receives.
And finally, it’s important to note that on-demand training is well suited to customer service. Downtime is the bane of the customer service manager’s existence, and on-demand training lets staff take training as it is needed, in small increments, so as not to disrupt the workflow.
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