Why Customer Service Training is a Waste of Money

WARNING … I’m getting on a soap box.  Potential for unfiltered thoughts ahead.

Want to know why that money you sunk into customer service training isn’t giving you the results you wanted? It’s because you may have taken the easy way out.

If any of these apply, don’t waste your money on customer service training.

  1. You don’t know our employees.  You haven’t taken the time to get to know your employees as people with lives outside of work, with dreams, with active likes and dislikes, instead of as employees.
  2. You don’t have defined performance expectations. What you want done and how you want it done changes from day to day and even worse, from employee to employee.
  3. You play favourites with employees and customers.  Some people get special privelages, some don’t. Some get away with poor behaviour, some don’t.
  4. You disparage your customers, either to their face or behind their back.  You call them stupid or cheap and insinuate they are a bunch of thieves out to get what they can from you.
  5. You apply#4 to your employees.
  6. You hire based on who you like, instead of clearly defined job descriptions and hiring standards.  You like people like you.
  7. You have no idea what your employees do.  Oh you have a vague notion, but you don’t know how much time, how much effort goes into getting their tasks completed, especially the ones who just quietly go about doing their work instead of whining about how much work they have.  Because they make it look easy, you assume it is easy and don’t recognize or value their skills, knowledge and expertise.
  8. You categorize any suggestion or concern is a needless whining.  Your employees should just be thankful they have a job and stop their whining.
  9. You don’t care what your employees think.  Oh, you might pretend to care.  You’ll hold a town hall or send out a survey, but it’s just window dressing.  You’ve already decided the answers, the strategy, the next step.  So what if they are the ones who interact with the customers every day?  So what if they are the ones on the floor completing the tasks everyday?  Their suggestions, ideas don’t matter. You’re the boss … you’ll decide.
  10. Rules don’t apply to you.  Just because your employees aren’t allowed to wear shorts to work, doesn’t mean you can’t.  Just because they’re not allowed to use the parking stalls close to the door, doesn’t mean you can’t.  You’ve earned the right to break the rules.

I could to go and on, but I’m not going to.  All I can say is, if any of those apply to you, don’t waste your money on customer service training because it’s not going to work.  Instead spend your money on customer acquisition because you’re going to need it to replace the good customers and good employees that decide to spend their valuable time with a company that respects them and values them.


How to Respond to Customer Complaints

When faced with an unhappy or angry customer, your response to that situation has the potential to defuse it or make it worse.

If handled incorrectly, a disappointed customer may turn into an angry customer.  If handled incorrectly, a disappointed customer may decide you don’t care about them and resolve never to come back to your business.  Even worse, that customer may decide to tell their family, their friends and their colleagues to NEVER do business with you either.  They may log into Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to spread the message, which means even more people will get a negative impression about your business.

Whenever possible, try to resolve the situation BEFORE the customer walks out the door. That means listening and watching for clues of customer dissatisfaction.  A lot of customers will tell you everything is fine even when it’s not. Some may believe it’s not worth their time to lodge a complaint or perhaps they don’t believe anything will be done anyway. It’s up to you and your service team to find out about any issues or service concerns and address them quickly. The LEAPT strategy may help

Listen:  It’s not easy to listen to a customer complaint. Some customers are rude, some can’t seem to get to the point, and very often you have other things you need to deal with.  Put all of that aside and truly listen to what the customer is telling you.  Give them some time to get their anger and frustration out. Watch your emotions. Focus on the specifics of their complaint, not their personality or their delivery method.  Ask questions, nod, take notes.

Empathize:  Be sure your customer feels confident that you are understanding their concern. Ask yourself “How would I feel if this happened to me?” Don’t think about how you would act if it did happen to you, as that quickly leads to judging actions rather than focusing on the problem and the solution.

Apologize:  If you or someone on your team messed up, apologize.  If you had no control over the situation, apologize anyway.  An apology is not always an admission of guilt.  It is genuine regret that your customer’s expectations were not met.

Partner:  This step means working with the customer to come up with the remedy together.  Some people wait to deal with any issue until they have all the facts and potential solutions in place before interacting with the customer. Big mistake!  You’re just giving them time to get angrier and angrier. Very often, if listen, empathize and apologize were taken care of immediately and with sincerity, the resolution has already been found.  What most customers want is to be listened to, to have their disappointment acknowledged and to receive an apology.  Yes, some will want discounts, coupons, a free meal or a free stay and that’s ok.  A free meal, a coupon or a free stay costs your business a lot less than negative messaging.

Thank:  Thank the customer for sharing their disappointment with you. Instead of just leaving, they gave you an opportunity to fix it.  Instead of telling their family, friends and colleagues about their negative experience, they told you. Their complaint gave you the chance to make things right for this customer and perhaps other customers as well.

We need to know when a customer is unhappy and we need to take steps to address the problem immediately.  Customers are our bread and butter. They give us a reason to get up every day and go to work. Without customers, there is no work.

What are some things you do when a customer voices a complaint?