The 3 Time Zones of Customer Service Training


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When training staff on customer service improvements, we often only talk about what is done during the sale in front of the customer. It can be useful to separate tasks and objectives into three time zones: BEFORE the transaction or service starts, DURING the purchase or service, AFTER the sale or service takes place

To illustrate how this concept can be translated into almost any sales and service environment, I am going to use three very different businesses and customers. The first will be an automobile dealership, the second will be a bank, and the third will be an upscale local jeweler.


Before – Automobile Dealership: The customer starts forming opinions the moment the prospective customer approaches the dealership. Are representatives outside, in a uniform that identifies them as a part of staff and is that uniform/dress representative of the brand they are representing? Is the customer approached and greeted warmly and directed to the proper person in a timely manner? When showing and test driving vehicles, is there a level of product knowledge that instills confidence in the product?

Before – Bank: Does signage make it clear to a customer entering the bank where they need to go for what service? If there is a greeter, is that person skilled in asking questions that will expedite the direction to the proper department? Are all staff members cognizant of the fact that at any given time, they may be the first point of contact and therefore must be able to direct customers to other departments and instill confidence in others to whom the customer is being directed?

Before – Jeweler: Are all customers greeted warmly regardless of their level of previous contact and irrespective of how they “look”? Are they asked if they would like to browse first or be directed to a specific area? Are they asked for whom the customer is shopping and what that persons likes and needs may be?


During – Automobile Dealership: Does the salesperson introduce the customer to finance and service personnel, making the customer feel comfortable with each person introduced? Does the salesperson tell the customer what to expect during the paperwork/ loan approval process? Does the salesperson thoroughly review the features of the vehicle being purchased and use other team members if they are more knowledgable?

During – Bank: Does the customer service representative or loan officer slowly and clearly explain any paperwok involved in the transaction? Do they clearly identify any issues which could cause future problems? Do they engage the customer in conversation that will give insights into the life of the customer which could open the door for discussion of additional products and services?

During – Jeweler: Does the sales representative compliment the customer on their choice and regardless of the dollar amount of the sale, make the customer feel as though they are important? Does the sales representative question the customer on any upcoming family occasions which may lead to future sales?


After – ALL: Does the salesperson send a personalized note to the customer to thank them for their purchase? Does the sales representative schedule future points of contact with the customer to discuss their purchase satisfaction and open the door for referrals?

The illustrations above are merely a snapshot into what should literally be at least an entire page for each time zone in each business. By setting up such a checklist or system and incorporating it into your customer service training and sales training, customer satisfaction is increased and sales opportunities are significantly magnified.

What is your time zone plan in your buisness? If you don’t have one, sit down with your customer service and sales staff and make your list. You will be surprised how even the smallest items on that list can be easily overlooked if not made part of an organized system that will be sure to grow your business!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teresa Allen
Teresa Allen is a nationally recognized customer service speaker and customer service author. Allen is owner of Common Sense Solutions, a national training and consulting firm focused on bringing common sense to business and life. Allen is author of Common Sense Service: Close Encounters on the Front Lines and is co-author of The Service Path: Your Roadmap for Building Strong Customer Loyalty.


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