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April 09, 2018

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L&D's Role in Customer Support Training & Customer Satisfaction

learning and development in organizations, HR training and development programs, innovative learning and development, corporate training and development programs
It’s no secret that great customer service positively impacts company performance. 
 
Customers with positive experiences spend 140% more than those with poor experiences, service is the #1 factor impacting vendor trust, and even slightly above average service leads to higher sales growth. The research matches intuition – satisfied customers lead to more sales. The exceptional service that leads to long-term company profitability begins with well-trained employees. Learning and development executives play an important role in establishing a baseline of skills that enable strong customer service. Our recent 2018 survey indicates that 60% of L&D decision-makers rank Customer Support/Loyalty/Satisfaction as a Top 3 priority. The starting point is a solid understanding of how customer satisfaction is measured in many organizations.
 
 
measuring customer service, learning and development training for customer service
 
 

HOW IS CUSTOMER SATISFACTION COMMONLY MEASURED?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer loyalty metric based on a customer’s willingness to recommend a product or company to friends or colleagues. Customers are presented with the “ultimate question” which asks, “How likely are you to recommend [product/company X] to a friend/colleague?” based on a scale of 0 (not likely) to 10 (extremely likely). The more promoters (people scoring 9s or 10s), the higher the customer loyalty.

 
Customer Effort Score (CES) focuses on reducing the effort in service interactions by assigning a scale of 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort) for the question “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” This metric is also a loyalty metric that indicates a customers’ intention to keep doing business with the company.
 
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a simple, common survey approach used to gauge customer response to recent interactions. CSAT asks customers to answer the question, “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service you received?” on a scale from 1 (very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). 
 
L&D leadership, learning and development training for customer service
 

HOW CAN L&D DRIVE IMPROVED CUSTOMER SATISFACTION?

Learning and Development’s role is to establish and enhance the baseline of skills employees need to deliver strong customer service. Once L&D leaders know how customer satisfaction is measured, they can determine exactly which metric needs improvement. Following standard needs assessment processes (e.g., ADDIE, SAM), they can identify which behaviors need to be developed. In most cases, customer satisfaction begins with exceptional “soft” skills and deep product knowledge. 
 
Realize the “soft” skills are really hard. The critical skills in customer service are sometimes easier to hire for than to train. As part of improving customer satisfaction, L&D executives should look upstream at recruiting and hiring processes to seek new hires with strong existing service skills. Finding employees strong in empathy, positivity, patience, clarity, and improvement isn’t easy, so companies also need to invest in building these competencies.
 
Examples of Companies Proactively Building Customer Experience Soft Skills 
 
  • Apple’s training manual highlights the definition and importance of empathy using the “Three F’s” (Feel, Felt, Found) for handling difficult customers. Buffer, a social media management company, teaches employees how the subtle differences in language can impact a customer’s perception of support. Replacing negative phrases with positive ones can dramatically alter how customers receive messages. 
  • Salesforce teaches their staff about how to break difficult concepts down into simple, easy-to-understand points so they can communicate effectively with a range of customers regardless of their experience. Basic empathy and communication skills can positively impact customer satisfaction scores.
Provide human and technical performance support beyond initial training. Behavior change extends past onboarding and traditional ILT sessions, so it’s critical to provide appropriate reinforcing mechanisms to ensure behaviors are implemented once training is completed. As a part of training, teach employees about the support that is available to them. Assign them exercises that require them to dig into the Knowledge Base to find ways to solve customer issues in a mock setting. Assign them an experienced employee as a mentor who can serve as a resource as well as a tester to determine when the new employee is ready for the front lines.
 
On-demand learning and performance support can also bolster initial product training. Toshiba provides e-learning for employees to improve customer satisfaction to reach all their employees and provide content for reference. 
 
As L&D becomes more familiar with and takes on the metrics of customer satisfaction, they can tailor learning solutions to help improve specific behaviors and business outcomes. A focused learning effort on improving customer service can have a dramatic impact on the company’s bottom line.