I recently came back from running 3 one-day customer service training programmes feeling really fired up by the power of experiential learning.
I had groups of about 10 justifiably cynical front-line staff who do a really tough job, day in day out, dealing with hundreds of people face to face every day - on the railway. And we know that rail passengers can cover a wide church of satisfaction!
The experience of these people ranges from 2 months to 20 years, and if I were to stand up in front of them and suggest I could tell them anything about customer service … well, I’d be setting myself up to fail.
But it is really important that we all take a fresh look at what we do and these people are no exception. It is important to know what your customers think, to know how important it is to your organisation, to remember what gives you job satisfaction, to focus on how you can make a difference, and to find the motivation to keep focused on this.
Through a wide range of engaging and stimulating activities, I believe we’ve created a programme which helps front-line staff re-focus on customer service.
In this day, the participants engaged in a challenging Q&A with a manager, mystery shopped local retail outlets, reviewed customer complaint letters, and met face-to-face with an actor in the role of a customer.
Those were the activities. More importantly, they discussed systemic blockages to good customer service, analysed important behavioural aspects of good customer service, and committed to personal actions for review with their direct line managers. There was a lot of debate and challenge - within the groups.
All the theory and discussion was material generated by them, and consequently credible to them. By designing a programme which takes customer service from the experience of the learners - and respects this experience - we have people who are not only bought in to the subject matter, but to learning generally.