The concept of sales coaching, in an effort to reinforce the information learned during training and facilitate changes in workplace behaviour, is gaining mainstream acceptance, even if some businesses still need to do more. However, it is important to understand that sales is not the only area where coaching has a key role to play.

In actual fact, coaching your staff in the art of customer service is every bit as important. Without doing so, you are unlikely to put together a truly customer-orientated workforce, increasing the likelihood of customers having bad experiences. That, in turn, can have some very serious consequences for your business.

Consequences of Poor Customer Service

Most businesses recognise that delivering good customer service is now a prerequisite for success. Indeed, customers are more demanding than ever before in this area, and the level of customer service that would have once provided a competitive advantage is now considered to be the bare minimum expectation.

It is, therefore, best to assess the importance of customer service by looking at the cost of failure. For instance, an American Express survey found that 78 percent of customers have backed out of an intended purchase due to poor customer service, while 67 percent have hung up the phone because they could not reach a live agent.

Crucially, it is not just the affected customers that may be lost. Research published by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs states that news of negative customer service reaches twice as many people as news of positive customer service, meaning failure in this area can do catastrophic damage to a company’s reputation.

What Customers Actually Want

Delivering good customer service need not be complicated. In truth, despite customers having higher expectations than in the past, their demands are still all perfectly reasonable and achievable. For example, in 2009, a Genesys Global Survey revealed that the single most important quality was “competent service reps”.

The other main trend shown in research surrounding customer service is that customers do not want to have to wait ages for help. Again, this is a reasonable expectation, but Harris Interactive reports that three quarters of all customers believe it currently takes too long to reach a real person capable of assisting them.

What this means is that the focus of your customer service development should be on providing your staff with a detailed product knowledge and looking at ways to reduce waiting times. Add in personalisation, such as insisting that staff actually use customer’s names, and you are already well on your way.

Why Customer Service Coaching Matters

Businesses that already invest heavily in customer service training may wonder why coaching is required in the same area, but the same thing applies to sales training and sales coaching. The role of a coach is to work with staff on a personal level, helping them to identify areas of weakness and put their knowledge into action.

“Coaching is an interactive process that helps the other person improve, learn something new or take individual performance to the next level,” explains Hemani Sehgal, writing for Ameyo. “[It] is often an under-realised tool with which you can get the most out of your employees.”

As explained above, in order to optimise your customer service, you are likely to have to need to make certain changes, in order to reduce waiting times, personalise the customer experience and so on. This requires staff to not only learn new ideas, but to actually use the information on a daily basis. Put simply, if you want to make improvements to your customer service, you cannot afford for them to revert back to old habits.

At Miller Heimann Group, we offer a customer service coaching course, ‘Coaching to be Service Ready’, which deals with this topic in greater depth. This course covers essential skills like creating a customer-orientated work culture, and learning how to develop talent and give feedback, with a view to improving performance.

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