A happy customer starts with great customer service representatives, which is why onboarding your customer support team members the right way is important to setting the entire company up for success. The members of your customer support team are the faces of your brand. Do they know how to represent your brand in the best way?
Product training for customer service training
First and foremost, every new hire should be assigned a mentor who is experienced, kind, and familiar with your brand inside and out. When training a new customer service team member, your company should start by conducting a product demo. Familiarizing your new hires with the product they will be selling is essential to getting them started on the right fit.
1. Product demo and going through customer-facing knowledge base
Ideally, your company already has a knowledge base set up for your customers with getting started guides and user manuals to help them get to know the product. You can first have a teammate show a quick product demo to the new hire so that the new hire can have a basic understanding of your product.
Then you can ask the new hire to go through your customer-facing knowledge base so that they can get a more in-depth understanding of the product (best if you can pair this exercise with some tasks that they should perform in your product so that they will really try out the features themselves).
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Knowledge Base Softwares for tips on what tools you can use to set up and what to include in your customer facing knowledge base.
2. Go through internal knowledge base for common FAQs and troubleshooting guides
After your new hire has a basic grasp of how to use your product, you can then provide more training on how to answer common questions from customers and how to troubleshoot issues that customers often encounter.
It’s best if your company already has a well organized internal knowledge base that houses these information. Organize them in a folder or create a step-by-step reading list so that your new hire can easily follow it to learn the essential things before they really start handling customer enquiries.
In your internal knowledge base, you should include the below guides for your new customer service representatives:
- Common questions from customers and the suggested responses. A flowchart of questions for them to ask can also help them manage each call they receive.
- Processes and software they should use to troubleshoot. For instance, how to ask for permission to log in as the client so they can really see what happened in their account? Do you use software like FullStory where they can actually watch recordings of what the customer does on the website/app?
- Explain how to file bug reports and feature requests. This is very important because you don’t want to lose any product signals. You really have to train your front-line staff to pass real customer feedback on to the product team. See our Bug Report Template for more reference.
Check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Structure Internal Knowledge Base for more examples of content that you should include in your internal team wiki for your customer support team.
Communication skills & culture training for customer support
In most cases, customer service representatives are going to be the first (and likely some of the only) employees that customers speak to. They’re also going to be the first person a customer calls when they have a problem, and that means you need to instruct them carefully about the tone and speaking style they use when they communicate with your clients.
You should also make sure that every customer service representative is trained on how you want them to show empathy to clients. How do you want them to care for and help the people who call in?
Tell them how to handle complaints and frustrated customers as well. In certain cases, you’ll also need to explain what situations will dictate when the representative can use their own discretion to offer compensation to a customer.
Finally, make sure they know when it’s appropriate to do some soft-touch up-selling.
Shadowing as customer service training
Before any new hire is able to really handle real customers, it’s good for them to shadow his/her mentor for a few days. With most help desk systems, employees will be able to see how other employees are responding to tickets. Having them observe other employees’ responses can be very beneficial.
When taking phone calls, have your new hire observe how their mentor handles questions and comments. Make sure your new hire is willing and encouraged to ask questions when they don’t know how to handle something or if they need clarification about the appropriate actions in a given situation.
Troubleshooting procedures for basic issues should be demonstrated for every new hire so they are ready to go when they start accepting their first few calls. Their mentor should also demonstrate how to pull out certain data that will be needed to handle requests and issues.
When your new hire is ready to begin handling real customers, consider having them use the draft feature that most help desk systems have in place. This allows their mentor to look over their responses before they are sent to the customer. Their mentor can then revise and offer feedback on their responses as necessary until they have the process down-pat.
Typically, this process will continue for the first month or so. This allows their mentor to periodically check the responses they are submitting and then advise your new hire on anything they could do differently. The private notes feature included in many help desk systems is very useful for this purpose.
Far too many businesses commit to initial training but then never touch on the topic again. Your product is constantly evolving and changing, and your brand probably is too, so don’t forget to offer refresher training for your customer support staff as well.
As the company grows and changes, you should commit to group training for all of your representatives every 6-12 months (or as needed). These training sessions will keep them in the loop about what new features you are thinking about adding, common bugs that are now resolved, and other important updates that your representatives should be aware of.
During these training sessions, you are also going to be offering a refresher for your representatives. You’ll want to touch on the tone and style you want the representatives to use when interacting with customers and maybe some real-world scenarios that have been brought to your attention in recent months.
- If a representative offered compensation to a customer when it was not appropriate for them to do so, illustrate a similar situation and explain the course of action you want representatives to take in the future.
- On the other hand, if a representative failed to offer compensation when it could have made a significant and worthwhile impact on customer satisfaction, explain such a scenario and what representatives should know to do from now on.
- Take other examples from your representatives’ actual interactions with customers and use them to illustrate what they’re doing well on and what you could see improvement with.
You should also host training sessions whenever there is a major launch for your product. At Kipwise, customer support training is an essential part in our Product Launch Checklist to make sure the customer support team is ready to handle related enquiries after a major new feature launch.
As a final point, setting up a knowledge sharing base for all representatives to use can help them grow and learn in between formal training sessions. It can also help them raise questions and scenarios that you may want to cover during training sessions.
Above all, commit to being in a constant stage of improvement and help your representatives share in the company’s state of mind. When you invest in your employees, it will pay off. For more tips on onboarding a team member, check out our Onboarding Checklist Template. And if your customer support representative is working remotely, check out our blog post Best Practices for Onboarding Remote Employees.