There are a lot of elements that must come together brilliantly for an experience to be perfect. One essential element often neglected, but essential is the training of your Customer-facing teams.
In my view, there is a great lack of training on soft skills with Customers and when there is training available it is too basic and not frequent enough. There are, however, three major things your training must address to be successful. Fail to do these three and your training will be incomplete, and your experience will be uneven at best.
When you ask any successful company how they train their employees they will undoubtedly tell you some variation of the following three items:
#1: You must understand what really makes up an experience.
To move your training to the next level you need to understand the conscious and subconscious and how the emotional reactions to the experience you provide influence most experiences. We know that over 50% of a Customer experience is emotional so this is important. This concept is a key part of Apple’s training strategy. Witness their leaked training guide:
So there are things one notices and pays attention to (the rational and conscious elements of an experience, like the price or the shipping time, etc.) and then there are the things one notices but doesn’t know how to describe (the emotional and subconscious, e.g., feeling frustrated or hassled, surprised and delighted, or safe or unsafe.) You have to understand how these things work together to create an impression for the Customer on how they “feel” about your experience.
#2: You must provide the right elements to evoke the correct emotion.
When it comes to providing the right elements in your experience to create an emotional response that feels right for Customers, you must first understand what the moments in your experience are. To facilitate this understanding, we always recommend pretending you are a Customer and walking the experience with an Outside-In Perspective. Once you see it as a Customer sees it, you will know what you need to change to get where you want to go. Usually during an exercise like the one I just described, you will see where you are hassling people, frustrating them or possibly even how you are doing things right. Either way, identifying what you have now is the key to where to start fixing the experience to “feel right” to Customers.
#3: You must communicate these moments and train teams how to recognize the signs of how a Customer is feeling.
Theory, understanding, and design are great, foundational elements of any experience. However, if you fail to communicate what you discovered to the people who provide the experience, then you are wasting your time with the first three parts. Regardless of what your understanding and research reveal, it is of utmost importance you take the time to train the people interacting with Customers in your organization on what you have learned. Start by explaining how feelings influence how a Customer behaves, follow up with an example of how your present experience creates these feelings, then propose a way to change those parts of your experience to be better. Many times this means training in empathetic listening, better communication, and specific actions (and phrases) to apply in the most common Customer interaction experiences.
So there you have it, the three elements essential to the success of your training program. First, understanding how experiences work and influence how your Customers behave. Secondly, understand how your experience evokes emotions at present. Finally, help your team reach that same level of understanding so that when you give them the tools to create the right experience, they are willing and able to deliver. Fail to include these three elements and you might as well not have had training for Customer-facing employees at all.
What do you think? What do training programs miss for Customer-facing teams? I’d be interested to hear what you think in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:
- Improving Your CX One Employee at a Time
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX