Customer service is both a tricky task and profession. First off, there’s two forms of customer service that deserve our attention. Let’s outline some important points when it comes to educating interns on the subtleties of these differing forms of customer service.
Frequently, there’s a subtle undercurrent of disrespect for those in customer service roles – especially in retail. Employees involved with customer service have to deal with unreasonable, irrational, and outright insane customers on a day-to-day basis. The lack of respect that these individuals afford to customer service representatives tarnishes the image of customer service roles as a whole.
According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, there is apparently a split in philosophies among companies when it comes to defining the acceptable standard of customer service. One of these approaches focuses on friendliness. It involves building a bond with the customer in addressing their problems and working to develop a sense of personal connection during the interaction.
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The other approach favors a colder side to interactions: it is a philosophy which prefers efficiently answering the customer’s question in order to minimize the amount of time and resources per customer and save costs.
So, companies are either friendly and amiable or cold and efficient in their approaches to providing customer service to clients. The culture and goals of your company should dictate the appropriate approach you take in training interns. This article walks through ways to achieve the more personable approach in order to better educate interns on the nature of customer retention.
Setting the Stage
To begin, it’s helpful to first explain how that customer service philosophy relates to the values and mission of the business. This allows the intern to better orient themselves with the culture of the company and to prime them against some negative preconceived notions that they might have about customer service workers.
The integration of the employee into the company culture and community should always precede customer service education. The intern should also be familiar with the role of the company itself with regards to the goods it produces or the services it provides, before taking on the more complex and demanding task of being a representative for that company.
These aspects of experience should already be present if your company has successfully oriented and onboarded the intern. Assume that your interns have already received a brief introduction to the company and are beginning to fit in well with the other employees and the general culture of the company.
Ensuring a Standard of Customer Service Among Interns
Each step of the process of teaching interns should follow a progressive and logical route. The period of time following employee orientation is the perfect opportunity to explain the relevance of the conscientious approach to customer service. Interns should be enthusiastic and understanding of the active role required of them during work-related matters.
In the climate of all of these technological innovations guided towards helping managing customer relationships, an article in The Economist argues that doing things the old-fashioned way leads to definitively better results. Specifically, the piece claims that: “The right approach to retaining customers starts with trying to understand more about them and then to work out what to do with the knowledge” (The Economist, 2001).
There’s some truth behind expressions like “the customer is always right” or “the customer is king.” Interns should come to see customer service as a pivotal, mediating role in the business that relates heavily to customer retention and the overall success of the business. The human aspect to customer service cannot be understated; showing people that you care about their problems makes a world of difference and could spell the difference between a one-time or repeat customer.
Whether you offer service in-person or electronically, forming a bond with your customers and showing them a degree of empathy is key to customer satisfaction and should thus be a priority when teaching interns the importance and nature of good customer service.