Customer Service Training- Eye on the Ball
In 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108-year drought. The drought was not only the longest in major league baseball, but according to Wikipedia it was the longest in all major North American sports. They had great players, managers and games along the way and still didn’t achieve their goal of a World Series Win. The Cubs needed something. They were missing the special sauce needed to be a championship team.
Crane Kenney, the Cub’s President of Business Operations said this, “There’s a saying in business that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and there were a lot of strategies over the years. The Ricketts family brought a new culture…they told us to think big… to stop cutting corners…hire the best…build the best…don’t settle for second. Do it right…”. Their approach is an example for us regarding culture and creating a winning team.
In sales and customer service we often compare our representatives and the incoming opportunities to a batter receiving a pitch. In baseball, the batter needs to have more than a good-looking swing. He needs to see the ball that has been launched his way, predict what swing will work and execute all in a matter of seconds. A great swing at the ball isn’t enough. It must be the right swing delivered at the right time.
Your representatives need to be better at discerning what questions need to be asked to get to the root of a customer’s needs. This relates to both sales opportunities and problem situations. No one can predict what the customer is going to ask about when the phone rings, but you can train for it.
Common training mistakes
1) Instructing your representatives to “just follow the script”. That is how you create a robot. When they don’t understand the “why” behind the questions and answers, mistakes will be made. Covering everything, even that which does not apply, makes talk time longer and frustrates your customer. Ultimately, a work order may be created with wrong instructions or a sale may be lost.
2) Assuming your team knows more than they do. Don’t let the lack of questions asked by your team mask their lack of knowledge.
3) Not making time to do side-by-side coaching each week. You need to witness your team at bat and provide constructive feedback and encouragement. Skillful players have ongoing training. That means you invest in veterans and new people equally. Veterans have slumps, short-cuts that are problematic and often-times need a fresh approach.
4) Your skills as a coach are weak. There is a difference between giving a directive or order and coaching someone. If you are uncomfortable coaching, you haven’t implemented anything new or aren’t sure if you are as effective as you can be, I am happy to help you. Ask for help.
Each week, e-mail your CSRs, sales reps and operation’s representatives a problem-solving scenario or a question that you would like the answer to. It should be based on something that transpired during the week so that your teaching makes a connection. Compare the answers so that you can see whether it is a team training issue or if you have 1 or 2 people who need direction. Provide the correct answer or solution so that everyone is on the same page. Make learning fun by creating an award or giving points towards a reward.
Role-playing is your version of batting practice. Role-playing should be done monthly or in preparation for difficult calls that may come about from a price increase, new product or service.
Finishing the Season Well
In comparing the Cub’s record from last year to this year, a sports writer summarized, “The bottom line is that there’s really nothing wrong with this year’s team that couldn’t be fixed by issuing a few less walks and giving up fewer home runs.” Maybe you are discouraged by your team’s results or you have had a set-back. Analyze what is going on and make some adjustments. Champions don’t give up. They play hard to the end of a game and the season. They ask questions, train hard, consider criticism a gift and improve. Focus your team on today’s game and being the best version of themselves that they can be. There’s a lot of game left.