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Customer Service Training is Not the Answer.

Why Customer Satisfaction centric training is misdirected and does not produce the desired outcome...improved sales.

Rethinking Approaches

How many times have you interacted with a "customer service" staff member or a service delivery employee and you walked away feeling that your needs were met but felt no compelling affinity to that business or any reason to return?

We have used the same handyman, Leon, for many years. He can be described as being able to adequately meet our needs but may not the best handyman in the Yellow Pages. We opted not to switch to another better equipped and knowledgeable handyman because Leon knows the names of our children, offers home remedy advice when we are sick and will happily hang a painting on his way out. We are emotionally satisfied with his services.

A satisfied customer does not a loyal customer make

In a recent Gallup study, results showed that emotionally satisfied customers, (how they perceive and feel about their experience) contribute far more to the bottom line than rationally satisfied customers (satisfied with a company's goods or services, whether a customer thought they received good value), even though they are equally "satisfied."

Gallup's research further suggests that for all kinds of companies, fully engaged customers deliver a 23% premium over the average customer in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.

Training Focus Misdirected

Customer service training typically focuses on developing employee skills to satisfy, meet or exceed customer needs rather than how to create loyal customers. If your customer satisfaction centric training is successful, customers will leave feeling satisfied with your company's services, but if given a choice, will return to the business to which they are emotionally satisfied and connected.

Contemporary training must go beyond the traditional "smile and be nice to the customer" to teaching employees how to develop meaningful conversations and relationship building skills with customers. Generations Y & Z which constitute a large percentage of customer service givers, communicate in IM's and Text Messaging languages and approach and define relationship building very differently than preceding generations. The reverse is also true of older customer service givers who sometimes struggle to connect with their younger customers.

Rewards & Incentives

Rewards and incentives motivate employees and direct behavior. The formula, ability + motivation = behavior still applies in today's environment. This can be clearly seen recently in the performance of Wall Street firms that rewarded and gave incentives to financial managers based on short term profit rather than longer term yield and stability.

How do customer service givers get rewarded or incentivized? Is it by financial performance (sales), customer satisfaction or customer loyalty scores (assuming customer loyalty is measured)? If building customer loyalty is not part of the reward and incentive strategy, customer service givers will focus on practicing those behaviors for which they are rewarded.

Today's challenging economic environment demands that companies must place a high premium on retaining existing engaged customers and find ways to build long term loyal relationships to keep them returning.

Someone once said...

"In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice they are not."

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