Customer service is a critical aspect of achieving success in any organization. It includes all interactions between an organization’s employees and its customers. In order to improve customer service, it is necessary for an organization to train its employees. A customer service training program improves the knowledge and skills of employees I order to increase customer satisfaction. It is important to conduct a needs assessment that determines the various levels of proficiency among employees. Implementation of a typical training program would involve four steps namely needs assessment, creation of a training program, identification of an appropriate training method, and reevaluation of the program to determine its effectiveness. Organizations should consider issuing certificates of participation and covering training expenses in order to motivate employees to undergo training.
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Customer service is an important aspect of an organization’s success strategy that creates contact between its customers and employees. Employees handle customers with various needs every day. Therefore, it is necessary for them to learn how to attend to customers in an appropriate manner that encourages them to come back. One of the benefits of quality customer service is its potential to create customer loyalty that results in higher sales and revenue (Bonomo, 2002). In addition, it increases the value of an organization and creates a corporate culture that endears it to customers.
Customer service training involves equipping employees with the knowledge and skills necessary for providing quality service (Bonomo, 2002). Such training is important especially for new employees who possess little or no experience on proper customer treatment. A typical training program includes several training areas such as improvement of communication, proper handling of feedback, ways of dealing with different personalities and characters, effective listening, and ways of using language appropriately. The major benefits of customer service training for new employees include improvement of employee efficiency, creation of customer loyalty, improvement of organizational value, and enhancement of employee morale and productivity.
The role of needs assessment
The major aim of a needs assessment is to identify the level of employee performance, inherent weaknesses, and the necessary knowledge and skills needed to eliminate those weaknesses (Barbazette, 2006). For this reason, the assessment ensures that an organization’s resources (money, time, and human capital) are channeled to areas that need improvement (Bonomo, 2002). An effective assessment should identify any deficiency in performance based on an organization’s goals, mission and vision.
Finally, the assessment should identify the consequences of failing to fill the performance gap (Barbazette, 2006). A needs assessment would expose existing performance deficiencies in several ways. It would identify the level of organizational performance, individual employee performance, and determine the skills and knowledge needed to attain different outcomes though task analysis. Task analysis involves the determination of skills and knowledge needed in order to achieve specific organizational goals (Barbazette, 2006).
The analysis would determine whether employees possess those skills or not. In addition, it would identify the skills that employees lack as well as the level of customer satisfaction, which determines the efficiency of employees. Highly competent employees satisfy customers and improve brand loyalty. A needs assessment would determine the level of customer satisfaction by collecting feedback from customers detailing their different experiences (Bonomo, 2002). Positive feedback would imply that the customers are satisfied while negative feedback would imply that the customers are not satisfied.
Customer service training implementation plan
Implementation of the customer service training program will involve four major steps namely evaluation and identification of customer needs, needs assessment, creation of an appropriate teaching method and program, and reevaluation of the program’s success in achieving desired outcomes. An effective training program is based on the expectations and needs of customers. Those needs and expectations will be identified by issuing short questionnaires to customers who will be requested to fill and drop them at certain collection points.
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In addition, the organization will collect feedback through its website especially for customers who shop online. Employees will ask customers about their experiences and the quality of service. On the other hand, the organization could consider hiring an external firm to conduct survey among its customers (Barbazette, 2006). The second step will involve needs assessment. Needs assessment will identify the levels of skills and knowledge possessed by employees and their consequent effect on customer service. In addition, it will involve identifying deficient skills that could improve customer service if employees possessed them (Bonomo, 2002).
An effective method of determining employee competency is through observation of employees’ interactions with customers over a certain period. Employees will be interviewed to indentify deficient skills and knowledge. The third step in the plan’s implementation involve the designing of a training program and selection of an appropriate training method. A training program will be designed only after conducting a needs assessment to determine the needs of customers and necessary skills. Examples of training methods that are commonly used by organizations in employee training include modeling, case studies, on-the-job training, simulation, presentations, and open discussions (Barbazette, 2006).
These methods have specific advantages and disadvantages. The preferred method will ensure that the learning needs of all employees are addressed for optimal learning. The final step of the plan will involve reevaluation of the training program to determine its effectiveness in improving customer service. This step will involve analysis of customers and employees responses after the training. Employees will be required to give responses regarding the improvements that they observe in their service delivery. On the other hand, customers will be requested to evaluate the performance of employees. After-training evaluation motivates employees to work hard in order to improve their productivity and efficiency (Bonomo, 2002).
Preferred method of training
The preferred training method will include a blend of different methods namely role-playing, modeling, discussions, and case studies (Kamin, 2012). This blended training method will ensure that the different learning needs of employees are addressed appropriately. Using one method would be ineffective because employees have different knowledge and skills deficiencies. One of the most effective training methods is role-play. Role playing will help employees to improve their communication and listening skills, develop teamwork and cooperation, and develop creative methods of solving problems (Kamin, 2012). During training, employees will work in pairs.
They will rehearse different possible situations that employees are likely to encounter when dealing with customers. For instance, one of the employees will play the part of a customer with a negative personality or and the other will play the role of a courteous and polite employee. Through such rehearsal, employees will gain knowledge and skills that will improve their interactions with customers. Discussions will involve talking about the various challenges that employee face and possible solutions to those challenges. This method encourages open dissemination and sharing of knowledge (Kamin, 2012).
It is effective especially in situations where certain employees are more competent that others. Though discussions, the trainer will address the most common challenges and issues that employees face while dealing with customers. In many training programs, the use of case studies is effective especially for employees who have introverted personalities. This method will involve studying organizations that have improved their sales, performance, and productivity through customer service training (Kamin, 2012). Past cases of success will motivate employees to achieve similar levels of success achieved by other organizations. A blended training method comprising the aforementioned training approaches will be the most effective because of the different personalities, characters, and learning capabilities of employees.
One of the factors that will determine the success of the training program is employee motivation. It is impossible to improve customer service in the organization if employees are not interested in the program. Employees lack motivation because of several reasons that include poor organizational leadership and management, low remuneration, nonflexible work schedules, and poor job designs (Kamin, 2012). The organization can motivate employees to undertake the program in two main ways that include providing certificates of participation and covering the expenses of the training. One of the main reasons why employees shun training programs is lack of recognition for participating and using their own money to pay for training.
An advantage of providing certificates is the feeling of recognition that improves employee productivity and performance (Sims, 2007). On the other hand, the organization can use these certificates in the process of awarding additional responsibilities and job promotions. Employees are more likely to feel motivated with the awareness that undergoing the training will provide opportunities for career advancement and promotion. Awarding certificates will make employees feel special and valued (Sims, 2007). It is the responsibility of an organization’s management to provide opportunities for growth and advancement.
Covering the expenses of the training program is another effective method of motivating employees. In addition to covering the program’s expenses, the organization could remunerate them for time spent undergoing the training. In many organizations, employee remuneration is increased based on acquisition of additional skills and knowledge (Sims, 2007). Undergoing customer service training is an important method of improving employee skills and knowledge. Employees will be motivated to complete the program with the awareness that the skills gained will increase their chances of promotion.
Survey to collect feedback
Reevaluation of the training program after completion will be important in order to determine its effectiveness in improving customer service. Program review will involve surveys and interviews. Employees will be required to answer the following questions based on their experiences after the training.
- After undergoing the training, what aspects of the program had an impact on your ability to interact effectively with customers?
- Do you think the training was necessary?
- Did you achieve individual goals that you had set before joining the program?
- How effective was the trainer in achieving the program’s goals?
- How has your customer service delivery changed due to the knowledge and skills acquired?
- What recommendations do you have for improvement of the training program?
- The program had several parts that had different goals. Did the trainer cover all the areas effectively according to your personal assessment?
- In which ways did the training program impact your personal productivity and efficiency?
- After completing the program, what was your reaction with regard to its effectiveness and impact on you as an employee and an individual?
- What are the most important things that you learned from the program that were not part of your work ethic?
- What aspects of the program would you exclude in case you were given an opportunity to design the training program?
- In case the organization conducts a similar training program in future, would you be interested in enrolling?
Customer service is an important aspect of an organization’s strategy to improve efficiency and productivity. Customers are an important component of an organizations success. Therefore, it is necessary for employees to learn how to attend to customers in an appropriate manner that encourages them to seek their services again. A typical training program includes several training areas such as improvement of communication, proper handling of feedback, ways of dealing with different personalities and characters, different methods of listening I order to enhance communication, and how to use language appropriately.
A needs assessment identifies deficiency in an organization’s projected performance and productivity. Implementing a training program will involve four major steps namely evaluation and identification of customer needs, needs assessment, creation of an appropriate teaching method and program, and reevaluation of the program’s success. Lack of employee motivation is a common hindrance to the implementation of an organization’s growth strategies. In order to motivate employees, the organization should offer certificates of participation to employees and cater for training expenses. After the successful completion of the program, the organization should reevaluate its effectiveness and efficiency in improving the knowledge and skills of employees.
Barbazette, J. (2006). Training Needs Assessment: Methods, Tools, and Techniques. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Bonomo, T. (2002). Customer Service: Aiming for Excellence. New York: Trafford on Demand Publishers.
Kamin, M. (2012). Customer Service Training. New York: Routledge.
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Sims, R. (2007). Human resource Management: Contemporary Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities. New York: IAP.