One of the most common questions we get asked as trainers is:
“How will I know that the amount of money and time I’ve invested in training the staff on customer service is worth it?”
It’s a hard question to answer quickly, because there aren’t always immediate results - true lasting and sustainable organizational change can take several years.
That question reminds us of the age-old story of two business-guy friends who were having a drink one night, and talking about their respective staff.
Business Guy 1 was lamenting the amount of time and money he spend on training his college-aged, highly-transitory staff, knowing that they were extremely likely to move on after several months.
Business Guy 2 was nodding and commiserating, because he had the same kind of business and staff - but when asked, he admitted that he gladly spends the resources to train his own staff.
Business Guy 1 asks, “How can you spend so much money training your staff when you know they’re going to leave?!?”
Business Guy 2 replied, “But what if they stay?”
I think you could guess that we agree with Business Guy 2 - regardless of how long someone will be employed, it’s a good thing all-around to train our staff on our expectations on customer service.
Customer Service Training is Important for STAFF
First and foremost, customer service training will set employees up to be successful in their position. If customer service is important to your organizational culture, then it’s key to set that tone and share tools and resources that continue to build your service culture.
At Zingerman’s, customer service is a performance expectation for every person in our organization, no matter where they sit on the hierarchy chart or whether they're front facing or not. It doesn't matter if they’ve spent the past 20 years honing their customer service skills - it's important that everyone learns how we define customer service as well as how they'll be expected to deliver that service to ALL internal (coworkers) and external customers.
This approach makes it very clear that everyone is on the same team, going after the same goal - and that we all have the support of everyone else in the company. This makes it SO much easier for a front-line employee to feel confident in their ability to deliver great service or effectively handle a complaint! And to get help when they need it.
The added benefit to the individual - they can take the skills learned here and carry them on to any position in any organization, which will only make them more valuable as a prospective hire.
Customer Service Training is Important for CUSTOMERS
This, to us, is the most clear cut - when staff are well trained and able to give amazing customer service, customers are the greatest beneficiaries. They get great service in the moment, and if something were to go awry, they trust that a Zingerman's employee is equipped to make things right for them.
Giving great service to customers builds loyalty and means they'll be much more likely to give us productive and constructive feedback when we don’t meet their expectations. Not to mention, they'll be much more likely to be out in the world at large telling everyone else what great customer service they can expect when they walk into any Zingerman's business.
That’s not to say that there aren’t misfires, of course—but we find that our customers are more patient when it happens because we have a proven track record. And, they’re more likely to ask for help or give difficult feedback in a kind manner because they know we aren’t going to get heated as a result.
Customer Service Training is Important for BUSINESS
We've said it before, but a long-time, organizational commitment to customer service training pays off in spades to the business as a whole.
First, it proves that we aren’t just giving lip service to the importance of customer service at Zingerman’s - it’s really truly an important belief, one that we invest our time and resources in.
In addition, that impact on the customer that has taken years to build results in an expanded reputation for great customer service with customers and with our peers—in 2018, Zingerman’s Deli was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Service (like the Oscars for food people!). As a result, that reputation draws more than more great customers - it draws like-minded people who want to work for the organization and keep that great service culture going!
Now that we've made the case and hopefully you're on board and ready to commit to training your team on customer service, the place to start is by scheduling your first class to teach about great service in your business! We find that by taking that first step and making the commitment to teach, we’re much more likely to do the next critical step, which is to determine WHAT we'll teach!
So what will you teach Answer this question: what does ‘great service’ mean in your business? At Zingerman’s, we define great service as everyone using the 3 Steps to Giving Great Service and 5 Steps to Effectively Handling Complaints in every interaction. (If you want a head start, feel free to use our steps, or customize them to fit your own culture!)
In the meantime, try building momentum with your team by taking a look at our handy cheat sheet for getting started on giving great service, including the 10-4 rule (which we encourage you to share!)— and then build on the resulting change in energy and culture with more training!