Customer Service Training: The Seven Fundamentals of Follow-Up


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At Impact, we’re strong believ­ers in cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing meth­ods that incor­po­rate on-the-job follow-up into the process so that you and your super­vi­sors can con­tin­u­ously offer the right kinds of ongo­ing sup­port to your staff. We’ve writ­ten sev­eral posts on coach­ing in cus­tomer ser­vice cen­ters and we have a ded­i­cated train­ing pro­gram specif­i­cally for call cen­ter coach­ing. for call cen­ter coach­ing.

In this post, we’d like to share tips with you on improv­ing one of the most impor­tant aspects of hav­ing your cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing be a suc­cess: follow-up dis­cus­sions about performance.

Giv­ing feed­back can be one of the trick­i­est parts of fol­low­ing up on cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing. If you don’t give advice and praise, you run the risk of not guid­ing the very behav­ior you’re after. And if you don’t offer it with the right atti­tude, you unin­ten­tion­ally offend your cus­tomer ser­vice reps.

Our clients have had great suc­cess in fol­low­ing up on cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing with the fol­low­ing seven fun­da­men­tals. We’re con­fi­dent you will too.

#1: Be specific

If you want your reps to improve spe­cific cus­tomer ser­vice skills, then giv­ing gen­eral advice isn’t going to be effec­tive. Take the fol­low­ing example:

You han­dled that call well.”


I really liked how you used open-ended ques­tions to learn more about the issue.”

In the above instance, you can bet that the next time that rep takes the call, she’s going to remem­ber that ask­ing open-ended ques­tions is an impor­tant skill to use. If she only heard she han­dled the call well, she’d be scram­bling a bit for what exactly she did that was so effective.

#2: Focus on per­for­mance, not personality

When you offer point­ers, you don’t want to crit­i­cize the rep as a person—you want to focus on cor­rect­ing (or reward­ing) the behav­ior. Be care­ful how you word your com­ments to ensure that they’re focus­ing on the action you’re try­ing to cor­rect, not on the person.

#3: Focus on behav­ior that can be changed

There’s no sense dis­cussing innate traits that your reps can’t change. If a rep­re­sen­ta­tive has a strong accent, your com­ment about the accent will only make the rep inse­cure. Focus instead on other aspects of per­for­mance that will improve the call, per­haps speak­ing more slowly.

#4: Break it down into small bites

If you present your staff with a list of 10 things you’d like them to change, chance are, very few will stick. You’ll end up over­whelm­ing, instead of guid­ing. Instead, pick out a few points for each per­son to work on, and after those are mas­tered, move on to a few more.

#5: Give feed­back as soon as possible

Coach­ing after cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing is sim­i­lar to most forms of coach­ing in that the sooner you offer advice, the more effec­tive it is and the more your staff will do what they learned in train­ing. (Remem­ber Pavlov’s rules, any­one?) Whether you’re review­ing calls, e-mails, or chat ses­sions, try to do it as soon as you notice some­thing to praise or offer point­ers on.

#6: Pay atten­tion to body language

How you say some­thing mat­ters as much as what you say—and some­times more! In review­ing per­for­mance, it’s impor­tant to be mind­ful of the man­ner in which you approach your reps.

Offer feed­back pri­vately: It can be hard to coach on a busy call floor, but try to be as dis­creet as pos­si­ble. Smile when you approach the cus­tomer ser­vice rep in his cubi­cle or work sta­tion, and try to get down on his level by squat­ting or kneel­ing so you’re not look­ing down on him.

Keep eye con­tact: Always aim for eye con­tact. It’s more sin­cere and pro­fes­sional and shows that you’re giv­ing your undi­vided attention.

Mon­i­tor your tone of voice: Mind that your tone is upbeat, sup­port­ive, and calm. If you need to cor­rect behav­ior, be firm, but not aggressive.

Smile! When following-up on cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing, a smile can do won­ders. If you are cor­rect­ing behav­ior, smile after you’ve deliv­ered the mes­sage to com­mu­ni­cate your sup­port, and be sure to thank the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for his will­ing­ness to improve.

#7: Don’t ambush!

If you hear a prob­lem on the phones after the rep has been through cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing, avoid rush­ing over and imme­di­ately jump­ing into your feed­back. It is impor­tant to give point­ers quickly (fun­da­men­tal #5), but be mind­ful of how you lead into the com­ment. For exam­ple, approach the rep with a smile and say, “Hi.” Tell her you noticed a few things on some of the calls you were mon­i­tor­ing, and would like to quickly dis­cuss it. Offer pos­i­tive com­ments first, and then let your rep know what she can improve.

If you’d like more prac­ti­cal, proven tips on improv­ing the coach­ing abil­i­ties of your staff, check out our e-book, Best Prac­tices for Improv­ing Super­vi­sory Skills.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


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