Customer Service Excellence ALL Year by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Summer is a difficult time for companies and businesses of every size and in every industry. One of the significant challenges is the use of casual or part-time employees to fill in for full-time employees on vacation. In customer service and public-facing departments in any company, this creates a potential for problems.

Part-time and casual employees, some which may be students working a first job, often do not know what is expected with customer service in a company. They may know the products, understand their job requirements, and even have great sales skills. However, they may not have a good idea of what your company considers a top level of customer care and service. Without this understanding, even the most knowledgeable employee can come across as rude, uncaring, or unhelpful to the customer.

Preventing the Problem

The single most effective way that a business can use to prevent this type of customer service and consumer perception problem is to spend time in training new seasonal, casual, or part-time employees in customer service skills.

This does not need to be long, costly, or complicated training, but it does need to be clear, comprehensive, and focused. There are several elements this training should include to prepare these employees to effectively represent your business to your customer base.

Talk about Customer Service

Customer service training needs to be more than a handbook or an online tutorial that new part-time, seasonal, or casual workers complete. This is an excellent starting point to share the information, but it can easily be something that is done and then forgotten.

Plan to schedule a short meeting and bring the new seasonal and part-time people in to have a talk about customer service. This is an excellent time for supervisors and managers to share what is expected with customer service as well as when and how to get assistance and support if a problem or a challenge occurs when working with a customer.

Consider building in role plays and discussions, and provide concrete examples of how top customer service ties not your company’s values, philosophy, and mission statement. Discussing the “why” of customer service is just as critical as talking and practicing the “how” of interacting with customers.

Build in Support

Managers and supervisors can also be proactive in recognizing top customer service. Recognizing these employees can be a benefit to not just one employee, but also to the others.

Set up a lead person on the floor or in the department, so there is always someone there to consult with if there is a customer care question. This eliminates the new employee from feeling he or she has to make a decision when they are unsure of how to proceed.

The more comprehensive customer service training is, and the more it is a focus of staff meetings or shift discussions, the more it will be front and center in everyone’s mind.