Businesses across the country are continuing to reopen - and we are facing challenges to health, safety, and sales.
I have been asked repeatedly what I think will be most important to position organizations for success as we navigate the evolving service marketplace.
The answer reminded me of playing tennis with my nieces.
I go every week to play tennis with my nieces. I am lucky to live close enough to them that I can pop out on my lunch break and hit a few balls in the Florida sunshine. They are just beginning lessons and are exited to be learning a new sport.
As you can imagine, the first few weeks we spent more time chasing tennis balls than hitting them. However, as they progress in their weekly lessons they are becoming quite the little tennis pros. Their training is beginning to show in their ability.
I believe organizations need to double down on training and development as it will drive experience, quality, and growth.
As we continue the march toward normalizing our service and economy, training will serve to bridge the gap for customers and consumers.
Only with proper training can organizations hope to hit the mark with safety, sanitation, quality, and service.
Let's talk about the "why" and the "how."
Training Builds Confidence
You can spot a front line team member who hasn't been trained from the parking lot. Untrained or undertrained employees have the look of someone who doesn't know the answer when the teacher calls on them. They avoid eye contact, make excuses, and don't engage with enthusiasm. Confident employees make better decisions, are more outgoing, and are more likely to give additional discretionary effort when it comes to serving customers. Training also allows everyone the chance to show their strengths in the workplace and contribute to success. It is a great equalizer that presents opportunities to grow.
Training Builds Competence
Quality is 75% a product of training (the other 25% is intentional management and validation from leaders). Training tells employees how to do things and ensures they do them in the intended manner. That may seem basic, but every service miscue either comes down to lack of training or lack of follow through. Either team members don't know how to do something properly or they choose not to do it in the intended manner. Competence is a catalyst not only for quality, but for consistency and speed of service.
Training Builds Engagement
Organizations that create culture and engagement provide great training. Training is a promise you make to candidates when you select them to join your team. New employees expect you to onboard them well, provide the skills training they need, and refresh those skills regularly. Employees who leave organizations often do so because their training needs haven't been met - or they stay and become disruptive forces in the workplace. When employees feel like training is a priority it increases their confidence in the organization.
Training Builds Behaviors
Training can codify the behaviors you seek. When your team is aligned in the purpose of their work and understands the "why" behind their daily tasks, training can then translate the "what" into the "how." The sum of your overall brand and customer perception will be directly related to the behaviors of your team. You can dial those in with proper training and corresponding recognition events.
So what do you do about any of this?
Don't skimp on training. It's almost always one of the first things to go when there are budgetary setbacks. Don't let it get pushed off the balance sheet - great training pays for itself.
Put professionals in charge of training whenever possible. Those who are great at training can both engage audiences and also create content for ongoing remote/virtual learning.
Don't forget that orientation and onboarding are training, too. The first few days of a new team member's tenure are crucial to help communicate your values, expectations, and culture.
Engage all the senses of your learners. Remember that some learn by listening, others by seeing, and others by doing - and a blend of these techniques is key to training success and retention. Even if you utilize virtual or distance learning, you can still hit the mark with engagement if you take the time.
Virtual learning will continue to play an ever growing role in your business. However, there is more to virtual experiences that just voicing over your PowerPoint. While great for scale, virtual learning has to be adapted from its source material in a way that still engages and doesn't allow for distracted multitasking.
Ensure that you are aligning your training to the behaviors your team must embrace
Involved your team in determining the training that is most needed. Don't accept it if they say they need "training." Did deep to understand the training they believe they need.
Remember training doesn't end at orientation - training is an ongoing process to keep your teams sharp.
Don't be afraid to bring in outside resources to conduct training and to invest in developing those who train within your organization.
Tony Johnson, CCXP
Customer Experience Speaker | Author |Trainer | Consultant
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Tony Johnson is an award winning speaker and author on the topics of sales growth, customer service, and leadership. Tony speaks to thousands annually and has also been featured on ABC News. He is available for motivational keynotes, leadership workshops, and employee service skills training.
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