When it’s time to teach a long term employee who has been around since the early days how to handle new customer service challenges and tools many managers decide that it’s time to let the individual go. After years of hard work and service the assumption that an old dog can’t learn a few new service tricks costs them their security. And with that you may find much dissention among the remaining employees. An older employee can still learn all of the software implemented tools and the new ways of providing customer service that are much more effective than some of the old ways.
Don’t discount experience. Experience gives a representative a depth of knowledge that can’t be learned in any other fashion. This is knowledge that can be drawn upon in an urgent or taxing situation that can save the day. It’s important to give the reps a chance to grow into the idea of using software programs, chat windows, and other alternative forms of communication to deal with customers.
When you begin your training remember that the software program you have for customer service is complex in what it can do. It should not be complex to look at or to follow. Your new reps will probably pick it up faster than your older reps but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be totally blown away by the older reps’ performance over the next few months. Allow each their own space and time and help them see the advantages of the program. Once the connection between doing their job easier and doing their job better comes together they are likely to take off with it and run.
Your older long term reps are naturally going to be a little nervous about using the customer support software. Most of them have been using an old phone and email based system that may have them believing that it only gets harder from here. Make it fun when possible. Make it lighthearted enough that you help set the reps who are learning at ease. This way they will be much more open to listening and understanding while putting forth the effort they need to in order to relearn their job.
After fun, of course, comes lots of practice. Of course, every time you bring out the role playing techniques you get a few eye roles and groans, but it actually helps. These exercises are still used today because they work. Whenever possible have the reps use the customer support software during the role playing so that not only do they get to practice brushing up on their skills with customer relationships but the also get a chance to see that the customer support software really isn’t a big scary monster hiding in the closet. Hands on approaches are almost always more effective than lecture approaches for teaching nearly anything.
Your customer service reps are there to learn as are you. If you make a mistake within the class or the training session let your reps see and hear that it happens to everyone and you fix it and move on. That is all there is to it. Hopefully, there won’t be many mistakes but alleviating the pressure from the very first training will help them perform better under real circumstances.
Steve Davidson is President of Cynergy Corporation, a software development company formed in 1998 to develop and support Help Desk Support Software and CRM relationship software to improve help desks, customer relationship building, and general communication between business to business. He is also President of U.S. Infotel Corporation. U.S. Infotel provides and supports corporate telephone systems and call center applications geared towards improved productivity through technology. Contact Cynergy Corporation for more information