Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
Gartner explains the concept of customer experience as:
“(Customer experience is) the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
Customer experience has also been coined as “…the next competitive battleground. It’s where businesses are won and lost.“ by Tom Knighton, author of ‘Managing the Customer Experience’ and Executive VP of the consulting firm Forum Corp. The best way for organisations to win in this battleground is to get better at the game. This can be made possible if part of the customer experience budget is invested in employee training; because only with better training and skill improvement can you wish to positively impact your end results! However, although customer experience is emerging as the ‘new age branding’, companies are still catching up in training their employees on customer experience best practices. Most customer experience training programs focus more or less on the same skill development at all employee levels. If companies do not make an effort to customise their CEx training based on the employee levels, they will not be able to attract and cater to all kinds of customer interactions at the various customer touch-points.
We have created a simple blueprint of a CEx Training Program for organisations looking to sharpen their axe as they prepare to hit the battleground in 2016. Here are a few ways to design a successful CEx Training Program for your employees:
Over 50% of a Customer experience is emotional. Apple knows this and applies the same to its training strategies. Almost the entire volume is dedicated to empathising, consoling, cheering up, and correcting various Genius Bar confrontations at Apple Stores around the globe.
Conscious and subconscious understanding of the various emotional responses of a customer should be clearly understood. It is THE starting point in order to up the level of the training program.
Each employee is different from the other and each stands out for a certain skill that she/he possesses. Psychometric tests like Myers Briggs, Belbin Team Roles etc. identify their hidden skills and competence, thereby helping the company in conducting more specific training programs. Following this, depending on his/her strengths, employees can be allotted to respective portfolios and taken through a tailored program that enhances their inherent strengths and coaches them on how to overcome their weaknesses when dealing with customers.
The right employee in the right role means lesser problems and happier customers.
A company is made of employers belonging to various positions assigned to carry out specific tasks. Each position requires training according to the kind of work that needs to be executed. Hence, the training program needs to operate at various levels: for the senior executives, team leaders, in-house trainers and the supporting team. For example, the senior executives need to be trained on strategic importance of improving customer experience and how to set the right reporting structure so they are on top of every customer experience initiative, on the other hand customer facing employees can be trained on how best to respond to customer feedback along with reaching out and thanking the ‘Promoters’.
Additionally, if you could brand the training as your own, people will be more enthusiastic about it compared to an external training program. A ‘branded’ training is bound to deliver a great customer experience.
Presentations usually end up being a monologue. Trainers must avoid reading out sentences as it does not establish any kind of connection with the trainee. What is important is to check if the trainees have absorbed and understood the key points. Also, hands on and practical experiences will help a lot more than just listening to a lecture. Nothing will hit the nail on the head as a practical example would! An effective training program would revolve around discussing the experiences of employees with customers and suggesting how they could improve on them.
People always learn quicker from their own experiences than from someone else’s.
The employees are the ones who face the customer day in and day out. They understand the challenges that come in the way of creating a better customer experience. Who better than them to be a part of the developing the curriculum for the training programmes?
It will be a great idea to take feedback from the employees themselves and include them in the process of improving the programmes.
In many ways, the process for delivering exceptional customer experiences will develop as your new business model; and the experience your brand value. Do everything to train your employees right because they are now becoming the means to acquiring the most loyal and big hearted customers. Remember – customer experience is the new branding.
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