Does customer service training really work?


The old age question comes up time and time again, does customer service training really work?. I am always astounded by the amount of diverse opinions on this question, To be honest my favourite answer was one I read many years ago about training and I wish I could remember who said it, but it was something like this:

‘There is only one thing worse than training your people and then they leave and that is not training them and they decide to stay’

I love this quote and as I said recently on a customer service training course if it was any other business the question would never even be asked. Just imagine if you were a Manager of a sports team like a football team and someone asked is training worth doing?

You would probably think they had lost their marbles, the truth is that of course training is important and that includes any kind of training. When you look at the impact of poor customer service on an organisation, then it becomes even clearer that customer service training is worth doing.

Let’s consider the impact of poor customer service on a company and its staff and its customers If I was to ask you to write a list of what is the impact of poor customer service it would probably look something like this:

Brand and reputational damage

Dissatisfied customers tell others

Loss of customers/Business/Income/Profits

Harder to find new customers

Poor staff morale

Staff retention issues

Poor perception

Loss of jobs

The list can go on and on, all too often people think, so what to customer service! but the impact is massive if we don’t get it right. Therefore customer service training is important and can make the difference between the success or failure of a company.

We must always remember it is vital for any company to ensure they equip their staff members with the  relevant tools to carry out the job in a professional manner. As well as equipping the team with these tools, it is also important to give people the opportunity to upskill which also involves areas of training such as customer service training in the workplace.

We have seen time and time again where companies can be selling a similar product or even an identical product and some companies thrive and others struggle. Obviously there are a massive amount of variants between companies such as location, pricing, experience etc. However the customer experience has a massive impact on where and who people choose to do business with.

I am originally from the UK but worked for many years in Dublin Ireland and I always recall a gentleman who owned a number of supermarkets, his name was Fergal Quinn, Fergal built up an extremely successful business and in general he charged more than his competitors for identical products. His store locations were in the same towns as all other supermarkets. but he had one main belief and that was:

We need to crown the customer, if we don’t exceed the customers expectations and their shopping experience they will go elsewhere and we will not survive.

Fergal understood the value of customer service training and was able to create stores who put the customer first. I t always surprised me that even though people like my wife knew they were paying more for the same product they became loyal to the store and would not shop anywhere else.A lot of that success was due to understanding the importance of the customer and the importance of customer service training for the staff to ensure they created what is called ‘The feel good factor for the customer’

Again one of the things Fergal was able to do was to create a perception and that word perception comes onto every aspect of customer service and often in customer service training courses you will hear people speak about the 4 steps in every customer transaction and they are:

Create a professional image and perception

Establish customer needs

Satisfy customer needs

Follow through to ensure it happens

Let’s take a look at these 4 steps in more detail, the first being creating a professional image and perception. We have all been somewhere and within minutes have either  been turned off with what we see or hear or alternatively been impressed this could be down to the image they have created and the way we perceive this.

Just picture this, you go to work next Monday morning and all of a sudden you get an awful tooth ache, you do not live locally so you ask one of your customer service colleagues where the nearest dentist is located.

You inform your boss and then off you go to the dentist. When you enter the surgery it is drab, dirty and has a couch to sit on which is covered in dog hair and has springs missing.The couch is about 100 years old, but not in a good antique way, but more in a dirty, grotty and embarrassing way.

You are sitting in the waiting room awaiting your turn and all you can hear from the surgery next door is the sound of a drill and the cries and shrieks of the patient who you assume must be sitting in the dental chair receiving treatment

The next minute the door from the surgery opens and dental assistant comes into the waiting room wearing what at one stage would have been a nice white clean tunic top but now looks like a butchers apron covered in saliva and blood.

The dental assistant then says the dentist will be ready for you in 5 minutes, what do you think you would do? Obviously I do not know what you would do but I know I would probably run. Why would I run? well I probably would have based my decision to run on what I had seen and the perception that created for me.

There is one question though, does that mean the dentist was a bad dentist and the answer is we don’t know, we didn’t stay long enough to see and we based that decision purely on image and perception.

‘So what is this feel good factor and is it teachable, how can your team learn these things how can you learn this on a customer service training course?

So much of the feel good factor is down to peoples perception and often this is based on the person they are dealing with as well as the product, the pricing and the service. In fact I remember a tutor on a customer service training course once saying that it is about the 2 Ps which was Personality plus Performance. We have all chosen tom purchase something somewhere because we like or can relate to the person we are dealing with.

I recall may years ago watching a video on customer service training and in those days people used to refer to customer service as customer care. I can’t recall everything about the video but I do recall the acronym that was used throughout the video based on the word ‘care’ the acronym was as follows:





The first word is connect and we do need to connect to our customers, we need to build that rapport for long term relationships, we need to be personable, create the right impressions, listen to their needs and provide them with solutions.

Being attentive is vital not only do we need to listen but we need to also let the customers know we are taking in what they are saying, we can do this in many ways. Often in customer service training they talk about the importance of clarifying verifying and summarising.

There is a saying often used on customer service training courses and it is as follows:

Nobody cares how much you know till they know how much you care

This brings me on to the last 2 parts of the acronym which are respectful and empathy, respect goes without saying, it is vital we show respect  to our customers and respect can be shown in numerous ways, for example:

Listening effectively

Giving them the time necessary

Using common language they can understand

Using common courtesy with words like  ‘Please, May I and Thank You

Letting them explain without interrupting

Greeting them correctly

Using their name effectively

The last part of the acronym we come to that word empathy, in customer service it is vital that we can show empathy with the customer and empathy is all about trying to see it from their point of view.

I often think of the Eddie Murphy film ‘Trading Places’ to remind me of the importance of trying to trade places for a minute with the customer and to try and walk in the customers shoes so I can understand where they are coming from.

People get confused with empathy and sympathy, sympathy is a way of feeling sorry for someone whereas empathy is a way of trying to see it from the customers point of view and understand them.

Finally the question was, does customer service training really work?

We have not even scratched the surface of customer service in this blog and already we can see there is a lot involved in effective customer service. So for any company who depends on customers to keep them in business of course customer service training is worth doing.