How to Coach Your Employees in Customer Service

Some people think offering good customer service is a trait, not a learned skill. In reality, a little training can dramatically improve the customer service performance of any employee. As business owners build and nurture their teams, solid training can make a big difference in the quality of service customers receive.

However, building a top-notch team goes well beyond instructing employees on the basics. To give team members the ongoing support they need, business owners should actively coach each employee, whether they work on a customer service desk, as part of the sales and marketing teams or in a supervisory capacity.

Coaching vs. Training

While the terms "coaching" and "training" are often used interchangeably, they mean different things. Training is often a one-time event, used for tasks like onboarding new employees, demonstrating specialized software or instructing employees on HR con-cepts.

Coaching is much more involved. Employees do not just learn information; they are monitored over time and given feedback on how they can improve. For instance, a new customer service representative can be monitored throughout his initial work period and offered one-on-one feedback on improvements. Over time, this will help the employee gradually improve until he can handle the task without regular monitoring.

Customer Service Essentials

Good customer service mostly involves interacting effectively with others. The others, in this case, are your business's valued customers, clients and vendors. Customer service training usually emphasizes the importance of fully listening to the other person, as well as exhibiting traits such as empathy. But putting those skills to use in a way that doesn't come across as forced takes practice.

Coaching can begin in one of two ways. Employees are first put through a training ses-sion where they learn the basics, then they either observe or are observed. Those ob-servations will lead to an intensive coaching program that points out strengths and weaknesses. With either approach, it is important the employees get guidance from ex-perienced professionals who can not only impart the right skills but also motivate and guide employees toward making improvements.

Getting Started

If your business is considering implementing a coaching program, there are several steps you should take first. Start by determining what your business's current coaching needs are, then create a program outline that specifically addresses each of those needs. Once you have a basic outline in place, you can set about identifying the right professionals to perform coaching duties and get their input as you develop the coach-ing program.

In developing your program, first determine what you want the outcome to be. This will help you ensure the coaching program you develop helps you get there. In addition to outlining the points that will be covered, you should also put in place the measurables you'll use to make sure your program is working. Set milestones for evaluating employ-ees during and following the coaching period to make sure they continue to use the skills they learn.

Coaching programs can help take your business's customer service to the next level. Whether you train your entire team or focus your attention on a customer-facing seg-ment of your operation, your coaching program can help you build and maintain a strong reputation.

Ramon Ray

Passionate about the success of small businesses. He's the publisher of Smart Hustle Magazine and small business success evangelist at Infusionsoft. Ramon is a bestselling author and entrepreneur. Check him out at RamonRay.com.