Train Your Reps Better with These Tips


Train Your Reps Better with These Tips

By Special Guest
Rich Pearson, senior vice president of Upwork
  |  August 17, 2015

You've hired a killer team of customer support professionals. Now what? If you don't take the right next steps, your support team will be a cost center – but it should actually be a profit center.

According to HR Magazine, companies that invest $1,500 or more per employee per year on training average 24 percent higher profit margins. Implementing a well-constructed onboarding process, one that covers everything from your company's core values to product details, will create a high-functioning support team that not only meets your customers' needs but also maximizes your profits.

So what elements should you include in your customer service team's training program?

These four training program components will equip your team to deliver Fortune 1000-caliber service.

Business Basics

Company mission and vision: According to McKinsey senior partners Scott Keller and Colin Price, when organizations give people a sense of meaning in their work, it's not only good for the workers, but it's also critical to building a healthy organization that is well-functioning and competitive. Clearly spell out what your company's mission is to ensure everyone is working toward the same end-goal.

Company organization: Painting a clear picture of your company structure provides valuable context of how different departments work together. Understanding how an organization is structured enables individuals to better understand how they fit into the larger picture and get things done easier – everyone needs to know who to go to for what.

Organization of customer-facing departments: Once you've explained how your company is organized, dive deeper into each customer-facing department. This may include user interface, customer success, account management and sales.

By getting to know these teams better, your reps will have a clear idea of how they can cross-collaborate to be more efficient.

Support Team Overview

Mission: It is equally as important to define your support team's mission as it is your company mission. With more employees taking advantage of flexible work arrangements and working from home or other offices, it's crucial that all team members understand what they're working toward. The support team's mission should be specific to their day-to-day operations while still falling under the company mission's umbrella.

Values: What are your company values? You want your customer service reps to live and breathe them in each interaction they have, so you need to clearly define them. Explain the significance of each value and how it maps back to your company and team missions.

Expectations: Clearly delineate what you want out of your customer service reps. If they are unclear about what is expected from them, it will prove nearly impossible for them to perform well.

Support Team Policies

Organization of the support groups: Who is responsible for what? Make sure everyone has a clearly defined role and that they understand how their specific function fits into the larger team structure. This will help guide team members with things like who they report to or who they should go to for questions.

Support group policies and processes: It is imperative that your team is aligned on all policies and processes to most effectively provide support for your customers. Plus, this will increase your company's chances of delivering a uniform experience at every touch point.

Product Basics

Tools overview and training: Businesses have access to a new generation of cloud-based technology tools. Make sure your reps know how to use any customer support tools you have – from platforms like Zendesk to social media monitoring dashboards like Hootsuite.

Performance indicators: If your goal is to live and breathe customer delight, make sure your primary metrics revolve around providing absolute client satisfaction and go over your company's customer-centric performance metrics and goals. Not only will this help ensure a great client experience, but it will also create a team culture centered around your customers.

Don't forget to implement a shadowing period after training as an opportunity for further coaching. After your training, give new reps an on-the-job opportunity to learn the ropes. Allow them to shadow experienced reps and give frequent feedback to ensure they're performing according to expectations. With a team leader closely involved to provide guidance and act as an escalation point, the representative will answer tickets and become more familiar with your product.

Rich Pearson is senior vice president of Upwork

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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