This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
Customer service is a jigsaw puzzle.
In order to put together a picture of excellent customer service, customer service reps have to piece together customer information, product or service knowledge, and personal skills. But, even with all of the necessary pieces, a customer service team member can’t provide valuable customer service without being a great problem solver.
As companies put a larger emphasis on high-quality service, reps and agents need customer service training programs that focus on problem-solving. As self-service channels grow in popularity for simple, transactional interactions, when it comes time for a customer to reach out to a rep, it’s likely because they couldn’t find the answer via self-service. These interactions tend to be unique, more complex, and unpredictable. In fact, according to one report, as many as 83% of people say that humans better understand their problems and needs and want to bypass self-service options to talk directly to a human. This means that reps should be well equipped to deal with customers, understand their issues, effectively provide a resolution, and anticipate their future wants and needs.
So, how can customer service leaders deliver training courses that feature effective problem-solving techniques? First and foremost, employees should learn the fundamental knowledge and skills that they’ll need for any interaction. Then, leaders can begin working with their customer service team to develop their problem-solving skills.
Introduce reps to problem-solving methods
The best way to ensure reps address a customer’s issue and do it with a high quality of service is to provide training on a structured problem-solving process. To start, here are five steps that every rep should know how to work through.
- Identify and define the problem: While this may seem simple and straightforward, customers don’t always describe their issues clearly. Training should offer reps examples of open-ended questions that they can use to effectively gather information and isolate the actual problem. This will make the rest of the interaction much more efficient.
- Brainstorm solutions: Now it’s time to brainstorm and share possible solutions with the customer. Consider providing reps with guidelines that encourage autonomy so they can create solutions at their own discretion.
- Evaluate and choose the best solution: During this time, it’s key for reps to clearly and effectively communicate the solutions (and their implications) of each with the customer. By having an open and friendly discussion, reps will be able to choose the solution that best addresses the customer’s specific wants and needs.
- Implement the solution: Once a customer and rep are on the same page about a solution, it’s important to execute as soon as possible. Training must ensure that reps are empowered to build a plan, work with the appropriate team members to ensure it happens, and make a solution become a reality.
- Analyze the results: After a solution is implemented, successful support teams also measure the results. By asking the customer for feedback and analyzing metrics, teams can better determine if the right process was followed and what they could improve in the future for increased customer loyalty.
Provide opportunities for practice and feedback
Once customer service reps have a good grasp of problem-solving techniques, it’s important to give them opportunities to apply and practice their problem-solving skills. World-class customer service teams take real-life scenarios and support tickets and apply them to a test environment. This gives both new and veteran reps the chance to hone their problem-solving skills in a safe space—without negatively impacting the relationship with a customer. They then have the chance to work through prioritization and resolution steps while practicing effective communication skills.
Additionally, offering reps the chance to practice thoughtful problem solving allows leaders to give clear and effective feedback. Customer service leaders and training managers can evaluate practice scenarios with predetermined criteria to ensure their team focuses on the right customer service skills and gets the helpful feedback they need to improve their level of service. This also helps leaders identify reps who may need additional coaching.
When reps are properly trained in fundamental customer service skills and effective problem solving, they’re more prepared to address a customer’s issue. With intentional practice and continuous feedback loops from management, reps will be able to implement these steps with expertise and become customer service puzzle masters. The result is higher first-contact resolution rates, improved net promoter scores, and better overall business performance. That’s a puzzle worth solving.
World-class customer service teams use Lessonly by Seismic
Lessonly is powerfully simple training software that helps customer service teams learn, practice, and perform like never before. Managers and trainers deliver effective onboarding, proving ongoing training, and share best practices. The results? Effective team learning, happier employees, and extraordinary experiences. Learn more, and demo Lessonly today.