By Tema Frank
Customer Service Training Can Be Worthwhile, But…
Too many companies waste their customer service training time and money.
Customer service training is one of the most commonly searched terms online. Sadly, far too many companies throw away their money on such training. I bet United Airlines spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on customer service training, and we see where it got them.
Don’t get me wrong: many companies have staff who could benefit from good training in how to deal better with customers. And no doubt there are many good training companies out there.
But, as the United Airlines case illustrates all too well, customer service training is often like putting a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage: the problem runs far deeper, and even if the Band-Aid is a really good one, it won’t work.
Get the 3Ps Right First
In the book, PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule, I talk about the 3Ps of profit: Promise, People and Process. Customer service training is just a tiny piece of the picture, and if it is just tacked on as part of the process, it won’t solve anything.
Why won’t it solve anything?
Let’start with the Promise.
If staff don’t have a clear vision of what they are trying to accomplish, they won’t be motivated to care about customer service; they are just there to get a paycheck.
What is United’s promise? Despite what it says on United Airlines’ website, management’s actions show that the actual promise is to shareholders, and it is about maximizing short-term returns. Even if they had profit sharing, that still wouldn’t be enough to inspire passion and caring in most staff.
Without happy staff, you won’t get great customer service.
United’s staff have not felt united in many years. Dave Carroll, the man who launched what, until now, was the most widely shared customer service complaint in United’s history – the United Breaks Guitars video – told me on the Frank Reactions podcast that he regularly hears from disgruntled United Airlines staff.
You can train staff to smile but you can’t make them care.
Customer service training can teach staff to smile and tell people to have a nice flight, but it won’t get them to do it, especially not in a way that comes across as sincere.
The people factor extends not just to your own staff and customers, but also to people like suppliers and the general public.
The men who dragged Dr. Dao off the United airplane were suppliers, not United staff. But, of course, their actions reflect on United, as they were taken at the request of the airline and in one of their planes.
Which brings us to the third P: process. United staff may well have followed the prescribed process, and done what their customer service training taught them to do: offer compensation, if nobody bites, decide who has to go, then tell the customer with a firm, but polite expression of Go to the full article.