There is a difference between training and educating a customer service group.
The former instills a sense of following a script and the other encourages customer service staff to take the right actions at the right time to provide uplifting service so customers and colleagues feel great about the organization.
Training teaches someone what actions to take in a specific situation,” says Ross Kaufman, “Education teaches him or her how to think about service in any situation and then choose the best actions to take.”
The differences between training and educating result in two distinctly different types of service, he adds. “Trained” employees will provide customers with basic service.
“They’ll do just enough to get you out of their hair, but they won’t make you feel very good about their company in the process. In fact, sometimes they’ll make you feel bad—but you’re not sure exactly why,” Kaufman adds.
“Most of us have had this experience,” notes Kaufman. “The service person doesn’t do anything overtly rude or offensive. You probably won’t complain because you can’t put your finger on anything he did or said that was wrong—but all the same you may walk away with the unsettled feeling that he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t care about you, and may even secretly resent serving you.”
“Educated service providers understand that sticking to the script and providing the service isn’t enough,” he adds. “Great service is not just about following a procedure or a sequence of steps. It’s about applying your attitude and heart to proven service principles. Service education allows you to make that important distinction.”
Infusing service education into a company’s culture is a vital process, requiring dedication from the top down and action from the bottom up.
Kaufman offers a few important points to consider in developing and improving a company’s customer service education:
Carefully select service education leaders. These individuals should be carefully selected for their understanding, attitude, and orientation to new action. This role calls for patience, clarity of thinking, commitment to uplifting service, and boundless generosity in the encouragement of others. This unique role is course leader, educator, facilitator, coach, encourager, problem solver, consultant, and provocateur all in one.
Focus on long-term results. Short-term thinking is another common reason why so many customer service training programs don’t produce substantial or sustainable results. Your goal is more than short-term improvements in a few problem service areas. You want to build an organization with an internal capability to solve problems today and create great successes in the future.
Engage everyone. Remember, uplifting service means creating a culture shift at your organization, and that means everyone has to be on board. Service education will not take root unless everyone at the company has dedicated themselves to this change. And everyone means everyone.
From the board of directors, C-level executives, managers, supervisors, warehouse staff, janitorial staff, to new hires—everyone must be involved and dedicated to this ongoing learning adventure.
The ultimate goal is to create a culture that earns and retains many loyal customers while building pride and problem-solving passion in every service provider. When team members are confident that everyone is committed to this cause, they will work enthusiastically to deliver uplifting service.
Don’t expect instant change. Becoming skillful in service does not happen all at once, just as mastering math or learning a new language cannot be accomplished in a single session. Service education must be frequent
For more information, Kauffman’s ideas are listed in his book, Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet.