Poor customer interactions always come at a cost. While losing one customer may not be devastating to an organization, a class action lawsuit for discrimination can be. The challenge is how to avoid situations that can come back to negatively impact an organization. While the art of great customer service is something that can take time to develop, there is no question that training is a key part of avoiding minor and major customer service errors.

The High Cost of Poor Customer Service

Customer Service Gone Wrong

Customer service training is often ignored by organizations for two reasons. First, customer service representatives are often considered “high churn” employees, so many organizations are hesitant to invest in their customer service training programs. Second, decision makers often have little or no contact with customer service representatives and as a result, simply don’t think about their training needs. One top executive, interviewed by eLeap, explained why ignoring customer service training can and does have an impact.

Keith, a CEO at a Fortune 500 company, shared his embarrassing story and revelations:

Honestly, I usually don’t have any contact with our customer service representatives and until recently, I didn’t think much about what they were doing. This changed a few years ago when I walked into a meeting with a group of consultants. After the meeting, a very nice guy on the team came up to me and let me know what happened to his mother just a few days before the meeting. What I learned is that his father had passed away and when his mother called our service center to close down his credit account, the representative tried to convince her that closing down his store account would be a bad idea since it would impact his credit rating! Obviously, this poor guy’s mother, who was already upset, explained that her husband had passed away and well, his credit rating was not her concern. He let me know that his mother was very distraught by the exchange, and I felt awful and immediately put the wheels in motion to find out why this had happened. Of course, by then, it was too late.

While the above scenario may represent a particularly embarrassing and insensitive case of customer service—in this case, the employee claimed to be “sticking to the script” and working to ensure accounts are never closed—the reality is that everyday, companies lose business due to poor customer service interactions that are far less inappropriate. The good news is that customer service essentials can be delivered to even large customer service teams at a low cost and without taking away from employee’s time on the job.

7 Essentials of Customer Service

7 Essentials of Customer Service

If you manage customer service workers, ensure your employees can do more than deliver a script. The following are seven essentials to customer service training (notably, all of these essentials can be delivered to your employees at a low cost using eLeaP’s learning management software).

  1. Smile: For in person customer service, there’s ample proof that a smile goes a long way. Train your employees to put their best face forward.
  2. Keep a Smile in Your Voice: For call center employees, it is just as essential to keep a smile in one’s voice. This, of course, also means being empathetic when required and even deviating from set scripts if need be. Teach your employees how to convey a smile in their voice at all times.
  3. Adopt a Service Mentality: Ensure your employees understand the core tenets of the service mentality and know how to bring it forward.
  4. Be Proactive: Teach your employees to be proactive by asking the right questions and finding solutions to problems, even unusual ones.
  5. Follow the Cardinal Rules of Customer Service: Help familiarize your employees with the cardinal rules of customer service put these rules into practice.
  6. Have a Positive Mental Attitude: Support your customer service team’s mental well being by providing them with simple exercises to stay positive on the job throughout their shifts.
  7. Prepare to Deal with Irate Customer: There is no way to avoid it—if one is a customer service representative, one will spend a lot of time dealing with irate customers since happy customers rarely contact customer service centers. Arm your employees with the tools needed to deescalate irate customers on the job.