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

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

by Renee Evenson

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Your service team may represent the first, last, or only interaction point between your customers and your company. Your front-line service professionals make or break countless opportunities, leads, sales, and relationships every day. Completely revised and updated to meet the challenges of a new service landscape, the second edition


Your service team may represent the first, last, or only interaction point between your customers and your company. Your front-line service professionals make or break countless opportunities, leads, sales, and relationships every day. Completely revised and updated to meet the challenges of a new service landscape, the second edition of Customer Service Training 101 presents proven techniques for creating unforgettable customer experiences. The book covers every aspect of face-to-face, phone, Internet, and self-service customer relations, and provides simple yet powerful tips for:

• Projecting a positive attitude and making a great first impression

• Communicating effectively, both verbally and nonverbally

• Developing trust, establishing rapport, and making customers feel valued

• Confidently handling difficult customers and situations

New features include “How Do I Measure Up?” self-assessments, and “Doing It Right” examples from the author’s extensive customer service experience. Every step-by-step lesson in this comprehensive and inspiring training manual is augmented with instructive sidebars, a summary of key points, practice exercises, and so much more.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“…must-have resource for any manager. Evenson has compiled an easy-to-read guide that can be implemented for any situation and any employee.” --Niche magazine

“… rule book providing winning game plans for exceptional customer service…it will raise the bar of excellence you want to be known for.” --Training Media Review

Small Business Opportunities
" The professionalism and enthusiasm of your frontline employees reflects directly on your small business. In this book, the author offers an easy-to-read guide that helps you get your employees in shape to handle any situation. There are interactive lessons that can be adapted for any type of business and for any type of employee trainee. It’s a nice book for biz owners or managers and will help motivate your people and equip them with customer service tools...If you don’t have the time to create your own comprehensive training program, just pick up this book."
Retail News
"A great resource for beginners looking to save both time and money while providing their employees with the training they need."

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Second Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Customer Service Training 101

By Renée Evenson


Copyright © 2005 Renée Evenson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7290-7

Chapter One

Taking Baby Steps: The Basics

Always remember, the customer is the reason you have a job.

What is happening to customer service? More often than not customers are met with boredom, indifference, and even rudeness or condescension. When they are greeted with a friendly smile and a helpful attitude, they are thrilled. They may even tell their friends. They feel grateful when they get good service. Customers should never have to feel grateful for being treated well. Being treated well should be the standard.

Take off your customer service provider hat for a moment and put on your customer hat. Think about your own interactions as a customer. In the past few days, how many times were you a customer? Did you go to the grocery store or run into a convenience store? Go to the mall? How about visits to the post office, doctor's office, bank, dry cleaners, or your child's school? How many times did you eat a meal out? Did you call a company to place an order or ask a question or did you visit a Web site and order products online?

As a customer, you have many choices. How many restaurants are nearby? How many stores are in your mall? How many doctors are in your phone book? If you are not happy with the service at one business, you have options.You can go somewhere else.

As a customer service employee, remember that your customers also have choices. If they are not happy with the way you treat them, they can go somewhere else.

How you treat your customers does matter. Think again, about your own interactions as a customer. Which ones stand out in your mind? You are likely to remember service that is outstanding or awful. Mediocre service is soon forgotten.

What Kind of Service Do You Give Your Customers?

Ready to begin? We are going to start with the basics because:

The basics are the basis of customer service.

You begin providing customer service the moment a customer comes into your business, calls you on the telephone, or E-mails you. When customers physically walk through your door, they take a mental snapshot of you and your surroundings. Without even thinking, they form a first impression. First impressions are also formed over the telephone and through online contact. How you speak, how well you listen, the words you choose, and how you write and respond using E-mail contribute to first impressions. If a customer's first impression is favorable, you have laid the foundation for providing great customer service. If the first impression is not favorable, you will have to dig deeper to build your foundation.

Being courteous promotes a positive first impression. Customers appreciate courteous treatment. As young children, we learned basic courtesies: to say please and thank you; to pay attention and not to interrupt when other people speak; to treat others with respect; to play fairly; to say I'm sorry. As adults, we sometimes forget how important these words and actions are. Courtesy words, phrases, and behaviors contain powerful messages. They show you care.

Your attitude can also foster a positive first impression. Customers appreciate a positive attitude. A great attitude can help overcome a poor first impression. Similarly, a negative attitude can destroy a favorable first impression.

By combining a favorable first impression, courteous treatment, and a positive attitude, you form the basis for a strong customer service foundation. Add effective communication skills, and you will be on your way to building long lasting relationships with your customers. Once you master these customer service basics, learn how to effectively communicate, and develop skills to build strong relationships, you will confidently handle any customer in any situation.

Picture This

Sally drives to Bob's Electronic Store to look for a new television set. She walks in and spots two employees stocking CDs on a display rack. They are laughing and joking with each other as they work. Neither looks at her. Neither asks if she needs help. She asks if they carry television sets. Without looking up, one of the employees says, "yeah, they're over there," pointing as he answers. She wanders over to the television sets. With so many new types from which to choose, she does not know what she wants. Neither of the employees asks if she needs help. She makes a mental note of the prices, leaves that store and drives to JB Appliances. A friendly young man greets her at the door. He looks directly at her, smiles, and says hello. She explains that she is looking for a new television, but does not know specifically what she wants. He assures her he can help, walks her to that area of the store, describes the different type sets, and takes the time to answer all her questions. She leaves the store with a new television. Even though the sets are priced higher at JB Appliances, Sally does not care. She likes the courteous way she is treated, so they get her business.

What Went Wrong?

Sally did not form a favorable first impression of the employees at Bob's Electronic Store. Neither stopped what they were doing to help her. Neither were courteous. They could have changed her first impression, but they did not project the attitude that they cared about her as a customer. She did not care for the way she was treated, so she left and did business with another store.

How Did the Customer Feel?

How do you think Sally felt as a result of her treatment at Bob's Electronic Store? ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________

How do you think Sally felt as a result of her treatment at JB Appliances? ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________

When you work with customers continuously, it is easy to begin taking them for granted. Remember what happened when Kris and her coworkers took their customers for granted? It is crucial that you not take your customers for granted. When you do, you stop caring about how you treat them. Eventually, you may view customers as though they are intruders who take you away from your work. This is the view Bob's employees and Kris and her coworkers projected. When you do not treat your customers well, you may soon have no customers.

Customers, on the other hand, have been conditioned to expect mediocre service. Customers who are given mediocre service will have mediocre attitudes about the business. When customers are valued and treated with courtesy and respect, they are more apt to do repeat business with you. Remember the important lesson you learned as a child: Always treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat others well, and they will treat you well.

Mastering the basics is simple once you learn and practice the four steps below. Then you will begin to build a firm foundation for providing great customer service.

STEP 1: First Impressions Matter

STEP 2: Courtesy Counts

STEP 3: Attitude Is Everything

STEP 4: Doing the Right Thing: Ethical Issues

If Bob's employees treated Sally better, she would have had no reason to drive to JB Appliances. She left because they did not value her as a customer. They did not lay a foundation for giving great customer service.

In answer to the questions above, you may have answered something like this:

How do you think Sally felt as a result of her treatment at Bob's Electronic Store? Invisible. Her business did not matter to them.

How do you think Sally felt as a result of her treatment at JB Appliances? They cared about her as a customer. They made her feel valued.

STEP 1: First Impressions Matter

First impressions are mental snapshots you take when you first encounter a person or situation. First impressions include a person's looks and actions, including general grooming and cleanliness, clothing, voice tone, attitude, body language, and posture. These elements, put together, make up your personal style. First impressions do matter. They matter a lot. When people see you for the first time, what is their first impression of you?

When Sally took her mental snapshot at Bob's, it did not develop well. Even if the employees were well dressed, with neat hair, and clean clothes, their lack of courtesy and poor attitudes spoke volumes. When they ignored Sally, they told her loudly and clearly that they did not value her as a customer.

People see you first, hear you second. The first step to making a good first impression is your appearance. When you do not have a nice appearance, you might present an obstacle that blocks your customers from forming a positive first impression. This does not mean you have to sacrifice your personal style to please others, but when you are at work make sure your appearance is fitting for your business. Otherwise you may have to work harder for your customers to get to know the real you.

Wear appropriate clothing for the type of work you do. Wear the type of clothing that fits the personality of your business. If you work in an expensive restaurant, you will dress quite differently than if you work in a fast food restaurant. When in doubt about what type clothing is suitable for your job, always lean toward dressing conservatively. Save your party clothes for parties. Save your torn jeans and old tees for hanging out with friends.

No matter what type of clothes you wear to work, you do not have to spend a fortune on your wardrobe. Wearing well-fitted and appropriate clothes will go a long way toward presenting yourself successfully. It does not matter how much you spend; what matters most is how your clothes fit you and your environment.

Make sure you are groomed. This means your hair and fingernails are clean and neat; your face, body, and teeth are clean; your clothes are clean and pressed; your shoes are polished; your hair is styled; and your overall image is professional. Put all that together, and you present a groomed look.

If you do not have a full-length mirror, buy one. Look in it every day before you leave home.

Maintain a relaxed and open demeanor. You can wear nice clothes, be clean and groomed, yet still convey a negative first impression. Your body language counts as much as your grooming. Whether you present an angry, bored, or friendly demeanor, it shows. Hold your head high, and keep your facial expressions friendly. Make eye contact when talking with someone. Smile as often as appropriate; smile often. A smile goes a long way, both personally and interpersonally. When you smile, you feel better. When you smile, you make others feel better.

Doing these three things will help your customers begin forming a positive first impression of you. Doing these three things shows that you care about yourself. What are your customers seeing?

How could Bob's employees have made a better first impression?

Sally drives to Bob's Electronic Store to purchase a new television set. She walks in and spots two employees stocking CDs on a display rack. They are dressed nicely and look happy, as they laugh and joke with each other while they work. They look at her, smile, and say, "Welcome to Bob's."

This time, Sally's photo was developing nicely. The employees were well-groomed, and their body language conveyed the message that they cared about themselves. Their smiles conveyed the message that they cared about her. Sally smiled back and said she was looking for a new television.

STEP 2: Courtesy Counts

Young children are praised for doing and saying the right things. When a young child says please and thank you, people respond positively. When a young child says I'm sorry, people readily accept the apology. When children wait to speak without interrupting, people notice how well mannered they are. When children learn how to play well, people comment. Children who receive positive reinforcement develop valuable skills for getting along with others.

As an adult, you are not going to receive constant praise for being courteous, but people will appreciate your behavior. When you act courteously, you send a positive and powerful message. When you make a conscious effort to use courtesy words and phrases, they will soon become a natural part of your vocabulary and personality.

Say please, thank you, and you're welcome. As a child, you learned to say please when asking for something: Can I please have a glass of water? You learned to say please when you responded to others: Yes, please. You learned to say thank you when someone did something for you. You learned to say you're welcome when someone thanked you for doing something. Make it a habit to incorporate these words into your vocabulary and use them frequently.

Say excuse me and I'm sorry. Growing up you learned that when you did not understand someone, when someone was in your way, or when you inadvertently did something incorrectly, you said excuse me. When you did something wrong or made a mistake you learned to say I'm sorry. Saying I'm sorry, in particular, is difficult for adults. Get in the habit of adding this to your vocabulary. The next time you do something wrong, say I'm sorry. Not only will you make the other person feel better, but you will feel better. These two words go a long way in repairing relationship damage.

Use Sir and Ma'am. Using these words shows a sign of respect. When you call a person sir or ma'am, be careful how you accentuate these words. The wrong emphasis can make you sound sarcastic or condescending. The right emphasis can make you sound respectful.

Use a person's name when you know it. Everyone enjoys hearing his or her name, so if you know your customer's name use it. Also be sure to give the customer your name.

Use yes rather than yeah. Yes sounds professional, intelligent, and respectful. Period. Save yeah for personal conversations.

Say it with a smile. This is an old saying with a timely meaning. In today's fast-paced world, smiling when you speak does come across loud and clear. Whether you are speaking face to face or by telephone, your customers will see or hear the smile in your voice.

There are also things you should not do in the presence of customers. They include talking on a personal call, smoking, eating (or having food at your work station), and chewing gum.

How could Bob's employees have incorporated basic courtesies into their conversation with Sally?

Sally smiles back and says, "I'm looking for a new television, but there are so many new types I really don't know what I'm looking for. Can you help me?"

"Yes Ma'am, my name is Jeff, and I'll be happy to help you," says one of the employees as he smiles warmly and walks toward her. "Let me show you what we have." He walks with her to the television sets.

Jeff was courteous, and his first words made Sally feel he truly cared about helping her.

STEP 3: Attitude Is Everything

People may not remember the color of the shirt you wore or the exact words you said, but they will remember your attitude. Projecting a positive attitude is another way to make a good-and long-lasting-impression on others. It really is all in the presentation. The it factor is the attitude you present to the world.

Attitude is everything. Good or bad. Whether yours is good or bad, your attitude is what people are going to remember about you. When you interact with customers, you may not get a second chance. Even if you are not a naturally positive person you can learn to have a more positive attitude. It begins by learning to appreciate.


Excerpted from Customer Service Training 101 by Renée Evenson Copyright © 2005 by Renée Evenson . Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author

RENÉE EVENSON has worked in the customer service management field for 25 years, 15 of them as a customer service manager at BellSouth Telecommunications, where her duties included staff training and development.

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