3 ways to respond to staff who think customer service training is a waste of time.

The idea of having to attend customer service training can leave some employees thinking, saying or doing one, some or all of the following:

  • "I've done heaps of these already - do I have to attend?"
  • "There is nothing new for me to learn"
  • "I'm too busy"
  • "I/we provide great service, why do I/we have to do this?"
  • Some may not tell you, but will share their negative feeling with the team
  • Some may eye roll, sigh and promise to turn up - and then have a sick day
  • Others may arrive on the day, armed with a negative attitude

All of the above is not unusual and can leave a Business Manager feeling annoyed and considering if it's really worth the time, money and effort to provide customer service training. If this is you, think again.

You know full well why the training is needed so rather than buckle under the negativity, consider changing how you present the training and address the push back.

1. Change the Name

"Customer Service Training" doesn't inspire everyone and can leave staff feeling bored before they get there. Think of a more inclusive and inspiring title and a more inviting and exciting way to promote the session ie:

  • Promote it as an event - a reward for great work, rather than training.
  • Call it a Service Excellence Event or Customer Service Boot Camp
  • Send invitations for staff to come and listen and learn from a Service Excellence Expert
  • Include in your invitation at least 2 things staff will gain that will make their job easier - people are more likely to want to attend if you are solving their problems
  • Use it as an opportunity to strengthen the team and celebrate great work
  • Acknowledge individual concerns but confirm this will not be "the same old" training - you know that's boring and the business won't pay for boring.

2. Design the session with the Provider

Many external training providers offer "one size fits all" customer service training programs - avoid this at all costs because that's what staff expect and why they think it will be boring.

  • Engage a provider who specialises in customer service, who seeks to learn about your team and their specific challenges
  • Engage a provider who will design and deliver content that leaves attendees feeling respected and valued
  • Make sure the provider encourages attendees to share their concerns and best practices but leave out the role plays. Customer service role plays can make staff feel anxious/awkward/false and it's a big reason why they will avoid attending
  • Build in time for breaks and ask the provider to encourage attendees to go outside. The chance to stop and reflect is as important as the content delivered and if the sun is out, Vitamin D helps increase positivity. 
  • If possible, run the event off-site. A different environment encourages different thoughts and feelings. 

3. Join in the Event

Be present but take off your "Manager Hat" and join in as a team member. Ask questions, share what you find difficult and listen to the concerns of your team. Let the person at the front of the room ( your trainer/facilitator) provide the solutions and handle the tough questions. It's your chance to confirm that customer service excellence is everyone's responsibility and everyone at every level benefits from brushing up their people skills.

If those 3 tips still don't help you motivate everyone in your team to attend with a positive mind set, that's OK. Individuals will have their own past experiences and perceptions of workplace training of which you alone can't change, but a well designed and delivered session will be a positive step forward. The good news is, you're not alone - your external provider should be bringing their A Game and post session, they should be sharing with you ideas to help you keep your team motivated to work together in harmony and provide consistently excellent service. 

To book a service excellence event for your team - contact us today.

By Cate Schreck - Service Excellence Coach and Author of "The A - Z of Service Excellence"