Customer Service Management Training 101: Quick and Easy Techniques That Get Great Results

Customer Service Management Training 101: Quick and Easy Techniques That Get Great Results

by Renee Evenson

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Becoming a great customer service manager requires a mastery of skills beyond those needed by frontline employees. Filled with the same accessible, step-by-step guidance as Customer Service Training 101, this user-friendly book shows readers how to develop the skills they need to communicate, lead, train, motivate, and manage those employees responsible for customer satisfaction. Designed for new managers and veterans alike, Customer Service Management Training 101 covers essential topics, including:

Planning and goal setting • Time management • Team development • Conflict resolution • Providing feedback • Monitoring performance • Conducting meetings • Managing challenges • Listening • Verbal, nonverbal, and written communication.

Readers will learn to identify their personal management style, develop core leadership qualities, and efficiently focus on their own development as managers. Packed with checklists, "real world" practice lessons, and examples of the right and wrong ways to do things, this is the one book every customer service manager needs to thrive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814417157
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 09/14/2011
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,210,275
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

REN'E EVENSON is a small-business consultant specializing in workplace communication and conflict resolution strategies. She is the author of several books, including Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service and Customer Service Training 101.

Read an Excerpt


By Renée Evenson


Copyright © 2012 Renée Evenson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1715-7

Chapter One

Understanding Your Management Style

Frontline management is not easy. You have employees for whom you are responsible. You have a manager to whom you report. And you are, quite frankly, caught in the middle. The expectation of your employees to get results while responding to your own manager's needs can leave you feeling overwhelmed. How do you do it all without cracking under the stress?

In addition to having employee and upper management responsibilities, you are also accountable for customer satisfaction, for ensuring that your employees provide exceptional customer service to every customer all the time. How do you accomplish that goal, especially when you are keeping so many balls in the air?

Well-trained frontline employees are your key to customer satisfaction, and knowledgeable and engaged managers are the key to well-trained employees. By effectively training, observing, and motivating, your employees will learn to do their best and that will result in the level of customer service that both your company and customers expect.

Customer Service Is Job #1

Customer service may not be your only job duty, but it is the most important one. As a frontline manager, your success depends not only on how well you perform, but on how well your employees perform. In other words, your success depends on your mastery of leadership and management skills and how well you are able to transfer those skills to your employees.

The first step to becoming a successful manager is to understand and identify your personal management style. Knowing who you are, how you communicate, and why you behave as you do helps you develop the positive skills that result in effective management.

The truth is that not every manager is a good manager. Some lead by controlling others, taking an upper-handed authoritative approach, with little or no trust in their employees. Others lead passively, taking a hands-off approach and wanting more to be liked by their employees than to manage them. The most successful managers take a hands-on, participative approach and find the balance between being controlling and remaining passive depending on the employee and the circumstances.

By learning about different management styles and characteristics, you can assess your personal style and determine your strengths, as well as identify areas needing improvement. When you define those strengths and, more importantly, see where improvement is needed, you can create a developmental action plan and move toward becoming the manager your employees and coworkers appreciate and value.

Remember that your success is directly linked to how well your employees perform. While it is great to be liked by your employees, it is more important to have their respect. When you follow the steps below, you will develop effective management skills that will earn the respect of both your employees and coworkers.

STEP 1: Learn Management Styles and Functions

STEP 2: Analyze Your Personal Style

STEP 3: Define Your Strengths and Areas Needing Improvement

STEP 4: Create Your Developmental Action Plan


The Wrong Way to Manage the Frontline

Jack, a frontline manager for a large office supply chain, manages ten sales employees. He is a gregarious man who likes to tell jokes and make others laugh. To be well-liked means a lot to him. He read somewhere that it is important to have fun on the job, so he manages by making sure his employees are having a good time.

Jack does a great job training new employees, but he does little follow-up to make sure they are doing their jobs correctly. He also allows his employees to hang out in his office and does not feel comfortable telling them to get back to work. Consequently, customers are often left to wander around the store when employees are in his office joking and having fun.

One day, before storming out of the store, an irate customer said to one of the employees, "I've been walking around this store for ten minutes, and no one has come to help me. I just wanted to let you know I'm going to the store down the street where I know they appreciate my business."

Later, when the employee was in Jack's office relating this conversation, another employee asked, "What high horse did he ride in on?" Everyone laughed, but Jack knew he should have done something to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place.

What Went Wrong?

Jack tends to be a passive manager. Because he wants his employees to like him, he did not take the necessary measures to ensure they were putting customers first. He hoped his employees knew what to do, but when they did not demonstrate that knowledge, Jack did not speak up and change the situation. Rather than being more assertive when he needed to, he sat back. When the employee made a disparaging comment about the customer, Jack laughed along with the employees rather than pointing out their mistake.

What Could Make This Right?

Jack never took the time to assess his management style, define his strengths and areas needing improvement, or create a developmental action plan. Honest self-analysis and skills development could have helped him find the balance he needed to manage effectively—and still create a happy work environment.

STEP 1: Learn Management Styles and Functions

The most important function of frontline management is to lead and develop employees. When you manage people your job is to accomplish tasks and achieve goals through your employees. How you achieve this result depends on the employees and the circumstances.

The methods you most often apply to employee interactions and various situations define your personal management style. Your management style determines how you communicate, make decisions, solve problems, and put your critical thinking skills to use. The most effective managers do not apply the same style all the time. Rather, they are able to adapt their style as needed.

The study of management has been widely researched. Similar managerial styles, ranging from overly controlling to a complete lack of control, emerge. The style now viewed as the most effective is participative. Yet, researchers also conclude that participative management actually incorporates both controlling and passive behavior, depending on the environment.

In this chapter, three distinct styles of management will be discussed. They are shown on the continuum below. A continuum is a plotting tool that uses a continuous line with varying points of reference placed along it. Later in this chapter, you will plot your personal management style. Most likely, after analyzing your behavior, you are going to find that your comfort zone falls somewhere to the left or right of participative, depending on your personality and experience level.

Controlling Management Is Autocratic Management

The controlling manager makes decisions for the team with no input or consultation with employees, preferring to tell them what to do. Communication is generally one-way from top to bottom, and the manager does more talking than listening.

This management style is effective when snap decisions must be made, when immediate action is necessary, when time constraints do not allow for employee input, when employee input is not warranted, or when employees are new to the task and have not been fully trained. It is least effective when used excessively or inappropriately. Employees lose motivation when they are not involved in decision making, and autocratic overuse can even lead to a hostile work environment in which employees feel they have no autonomy or are not empowered to do their jobs.

Autocratic management is no longer a desired approach to managing and most managers have abandoned it; those who still heavily rely on this approach are often labeled "dinosaurs."

Participative Management Is Shared Management

The participative manager applies a hands-on, involved approach, and both the manager and employees share in making decisions and solving problems. This manager knows his or her employees well, understands their strengths and weaknesses, and knows who functions best under this approach. Employee input is welcome and delegation of work is utilized. Communication is two-way and open.

This management style is effective when the manager takes the time to adequately train, observe, develop, and provide feedback to employees. When these steps are taken, employees feel engaged and empowered to perform at their best. This style is least effective when employee input is continually welcomed but not acted upon, when too much or not enough responsibility is shared with employees, or when work is delegated to employees who do not have the ability to complete the task.

Participative management emerged when team involvement, quality work groups, and self-managed teams became popular. Employee empowerment through the participative approach is now the widely accepted and preferred management style.

Passive Management Is Permissive Management

The passive manager takes a back seat and allows the team to make decisions, set goals, and achieve objectives. Communication is two-way, often adopting a democratic approach in which employees are given equal power with the manager for making decisions.

This management style is effective when employees have been well trained, are high achievers who work as a cohesive unit, and have displayed sound decision-making and problem solving techniques. It is last effective when teams have not reached the cohesive stage of development or when the manager uses it to avoid making decisions or resolving conflict. Overuse of this approach can lead to a lack of focus and direction, or even more serious, a lack of respect by the employees.

Passive management, while not the ideal style of managing when utilized excessively, can be appropriate when employees have proved they deserve empowerment and control. Teams can self-manage, with the manager remaining involved.

Management Functions Dictate the Management Style

As a manager, you are responsible for many tasks, which can be linked to three general functions: managing yourself, managing others, and managing results.

Managing yourself involves understanding your management style, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. It includes personal skills development, mapping out a plan to meet company objectives for both yourself and your team, defining how and when you will complete tasks and meet company commitments, and managing your time effectively.

Managing others involves encouraging them to share your vision and goals. It includes communicating effectively, training employees to do the job correctly, building a cohesive team, and effectively resolving conflicts and problems.

Managing results involves measuring and controlling outcomes. It includes analyzing goal achievement, observing, providing feedback, appraising, creating development action plans for employees, and monitoring self-development goals.

Each of these functions involves the ability to use your critical thinking skills to make decisions and solve problems. You must decide whether to control the events, allow employees to participate in them, or give employees complete freedom over them. An effective and successful manager knows which style to use for each function and when to change an approach as needed.

STEP 2: Analyze Your Management Style

You have learned about three management styles. You have also learned that the most effective approach is the participative style, which means having the ability to move left or right on the continuum, depending on the environment. Although the ability to move back and forth easily across the continuum will increase your effectiveness, you are probably more comfortable to the right or left of participative management. When push comes to shove, when time does not permit for participation, or when you are stressed out and overworked, you may not move easily across the continuum, but rather get stuck on one spot. You feel more comfortable either controlling the events or sitting back and hoping your employees do the right thing.

Analyzing how you perform on a daily basis will help you pinpoint the spot on the continuum that is your comfort zone. That spot defines your current personal style. Once you establish your comfort zone, you will then be able to assess areas that need improvement in order to develop the skills to move easily among all three styles as appropriate and necessary.

Honest Analysis Enables You to Define Your Management Style

Unless your self-assessment is honest, you will never be able to advance your development. Draw the continuum on a piece of paper. Write Controlling on the left, Participative in the middle, and Passive on the right. Think of your performance at work and then honestly assess where you fall on the continuum.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  •   What decision-making techniques do I employ?

  •   How do I handle conflict and problems?

  •   How do I manage when I am under undue stress?

  •   How well do I know my employees' strengths and weaknesses?

  •   How effectively do I delegate?

  •   Do I find it difficult to control when I need to? Or, am I overly controlling when a more passive approach would be better?

    How you manage depends on a number of variables. An experienced manager may feel more comfortable relying on a controlling approach. If you are a new manager dealing with an experienced employee, you may take a passive approach, whereas with a new employee, you may feel more comfortable controlling the situation when necessary. If you have developed your skills sufficiently, you can effectively move among controlling, participative, or passive, depending on the circumstances. No matter your experience level, no matter the experience level of your employees, no answer is right or wrong. At this time, you are merely determining your comfort zone. Pinpointing where you fall on the continuum will assist you when you define your strengths and areas needing improvement.

    You Are Most Comfortable Taking a Controlling Approach

    You find it easier to tell people what to do rather than ask for their opinions. You are a good decision maker, so why bother wasting your employees' time asking for input that you most likely will not act on?

    You feel comfortable setting goals for your team. You take full responsibility for employee training and development. When conflict occurs, you handle the situation by making the call and letting the involved parties know what you decided.

    You understand the importance of developing your employees by delegating work, but depending on the task and time, you may prefer doing it yourself because you know it will be quicker than taking the time to explain the task to others.

    You value the importance of being a participative manager, but efficiency is most important to you. Thus, when you are short on time, telling is the most efficient means of getting the job done.

    You Are Most Comfortable Taking a Participative Approach

    You are a people person who appreciates the opportunity to encourage a supportive, open atmosphere. You know your employees and have defined their strengths and weaknesses. You like to discuss problems, decisions, and outcomes with your team but you also feel comfortable either making the final decision or allowing your team the freedom to make the call, as appropriate. If you make the final decision, you take the time to explain your reasoning.

    Goal setting is done by meeting with your employees and encouraging them to provide input and reach consensus. You make sure your employees are well-trained and, when possible, you rely on experienced team members to conduct the training. You value the importance of employee development and, when delegating work assignments, you take the time to ensure you are delegating to the person best suited for the task.


    Excerpted from CUSTOMER SERVICE MANAGEMENT TRAINING 101 by Renée Evenson Copyright © 2012 by Renée Evenson. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Table of Contents

    C O N T E N T S

    Acknowledgments ix

    Introduction 1


    1 Understanding Your Management Style 7

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Manage the Frontline 9

    STEP 1: Learn Management Styles and Functions 10

    STEP 2: Analyze Your Management Style 13

    STEP 3: Defi ne Your Strengths and Areas Needing Improvement 17

    STEP 4: Create Your Developmental Action Plan and Set Goals 19

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Manage the Frontline 21

    Checklist 23

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 24

    Personal Planner 25

    2 Developing Your Leadership Qualities 26

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Lead 28

    STEP 1: Leadership Begins with Awareness 31

    STEP 2: Develop Positive Leadership Qualities 33

    STEP 3: Look and Act like a Leader 35

    STEP 4: Critical Thinking Leads to Good Decisions 36

    STEP 5: Make Yourself Indispensible 37

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Lead 38

    Checklist 40

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 42

    Personal Planner 43

    3 Planning and Organizing for Results 44

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Plan and Organize 46

    STEP 1: Create Your Mission Statement 48

    STEP 2: Create Your Customer-Focused Plan 50

    STEP 3: Set Goals 52

    STEP 4: Make the Most of Your Time 54

    STEP 5: Handle Stress 56

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Plan and Organize 59

    Checklist 61

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 63

    Personal Planner 65


    4 Communicating Up, Down, Across, In, and Out 69

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Communicate 72

    STEP 1: Listen Well 74

    STEP 2: Communicate Well Nonverbally 75

    STEP 3: Speak Well 76

    STEP 4: Learn the Art of Small Talk 78

    STEP 5: Learn the Art of Delivering a Presentation 80

    STEP 6: Maintain Strong Relationships 82

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Communicate 84

    Checklist 86

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 88

    Personal Planner 90

    5 Training for Excellence 91

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Train 93

    STEP 1: Understand Learning Styles 94

    STEP 2: Prepare for Training Sessions 96

    STEP 3: Train Thoroughly 98

    STEP 4: Follow Up After Training 100

    STEP 5: Conduct Productive Meetings 101

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Train 104

    Checklist 106

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 108

    Personal Planner 110

    6 Team Building for Success 111

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Build a Team 113

    STEP 1: Understand the Characteristics of Strong Teams 115

    STEP 2: Promote “Team Think” 117

    STEP 3: Form a Cohesive Team 118

    STEP 4: Continue the Process 121

    STEP 5: Strengthen Your Team by Being a Team Player 123

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Build a Team 124

    Checklist 126

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 128

    Personal Planner 130

    7 Dealing with Challenges Successfully 131

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Handle Challenges 133

    STEP 1: Mediate Confl ict Involving Others 136

    STEP 2: Resolve Confl ict Involving You 138

    STEP 3: Turn Problem Performers into Peak Producers 140

    STEP 4: Handle the Change Process 143

    STEP 5: Expect the Unexpected 146

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Handle Challenges 148

    Checklist 150

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 152

    Personal Planner 154


    8 Monitoring Performance for Excellence 157

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Monitor Performance 159

    STEP 1: Measure Results and Objectives 161

    STEP 2: Manage Hands-On 164

    STEP 3: Observe Your Employees 166

    STEP 4: Document Performance 168

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Monitor Performance 169

    Checklist 171

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 172

    Personal Planner 174

    9 Motivating Through Meaningful Feedback 175

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Give Feedback 177

    STEP 1: Meaningful Feedback Is Focused, Specifi c, and Timely 179

    STEP 2: Quick Feedback Gets Positive Results 182

    STEP 3: Development Action Plans Improve Performance 183

    STEP 4: Appraising Performance Is the Most Effective Feedback 184

    STEP 5: Accept Feedback Graciously 186

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Give Feedback 188

    Checklist 190

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 191

    Personal Planner 192

    10 Putting Your Best FACE Forward 193

    Spotlight on Management: The Wrong Way to Put Your Best FACE Forward 195

    STEP 1: Focus on Keeping Your Momentum Going 196

    STEP 2: Achieve Your Goals by Taking Control of Your Destiny 198

    STEP 3: Care for Yourself and Others 200

    STEP 4: Exemplify the Best You Can Be 201

    Spotlight on Management: A Better Way to Put Your Best FACE Forward 203

    Checklist 205

    The Real World: Practice Lesson 206

    Personal Planner 207

    Index 209

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