Biz Tips: How to Improve Training and Onboarding for Your Customer Support Team

Biz Tips: How to Improve Training and Onboarding for Your Customer Support Team

Biz Tip:

How to Improve Training and Onboarding for Your Customer Support Team

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It is said that you can know a man by the company he keeps. But if we’re being honest we have to admit that a company is known by the customer support and service teams that they keep in their offices. Slightly poor joke aside, the efficiency of the customer support and service teams makes a world of difference to the success of your business.

Adhering to the philosophy of ‘customer first’, companies have scaled success world over. But they have also borne the brunt of losing top talent to the competition. The pressure of toeing the line of client expectations day in and day out, and living up to the expectations of clients, has caused quite a burnout amongst many employees, and sometimes leads to a dip in their enthusiasm.

The Employee First Culture Augments Customer Service

Consequently, companies are now leaning towards a more employee-centric culture, to train and retain the right talent1. Many of them are redefining themselves to prioritize and protect the interests of their employees. One of the most crucial factors that determine the strength and longevity of the relationship between an employer and its people, is the onboarding method. Vineet Nayar, the former CEO of HCL Technologies, has found that the shift towards an employee-centric culture, has a positive effect on customer service2 and consequently on corporate revenues as well.

Why is Onboarding New Hires for the Customer Support Team Important?

Why and where does the onboarding of new hires assume significance? How does the onboarding of new hires make an impact on the corporate top line and bottom line? These are just many of the few questions that we seek to address. A publication titled “This is How the Top Companies On Board New Hires”3 asserts that 22% of all global attrition takes place in the first 45 days, meaning the first impression of your onboarding strategy is of paramount importance to retaining new hires.

This blog takes you through eight industry best practices followed by some of the top employer brands across the world. While this is by no means a predefined template for your human resource managers to benchmark without exploring the scope for local adaptation, it will give you a clear insight into the evolving contours of human resource management as a key differentiator of companies.

#1 Engage with Your New Customer Support Hires before Their First Day at Work

First, make sure that your human resource manager engages with the new customer support personnel before they attend office on their first day. Start the communication a week before they come into work. Doing so is beneficial to both the company and the new hire. To begin with, the new hire must be informed about basic conveniences such as different modes of commuting, directions from nearby public transportation options, the availability of parking space, dress code, and other such basics that the new hire will need to know for his/her first day at office.

#2 Organize a Small Reception to Let Them Know Their Worth

Second, it is important for your human resources manager to take cognizance of the fact that people want to feel respected, recognized and welcome in your organization. The agenda for this has to be rolled out on day one. Ask your human resource managers to take the first step. Organize a small reception for your new customer support hires on the first day and let them know that they have arrived at the right address and are among the right people. Make sure that they are well received and feel comfortable enough to ask questions about the new environment. Developing a positive attitude is crucial in a function like customer service. As long as your new hires are willing to ask questions, learn about the organization and remain curious, your human resources department must have to take care of their queries and keep their interest alive.

#3 Personalize the Communication with Your Customer Support Team

How can your human resource team add a personalized touch to the communication on the first day, and make sessions interactive for the new customer support hires? You can borrow from this advisory published in The New York Times4 that showcases how Apple sends a personal note to their new hires to make them feel really special on their first day, thereby augmenting their sense of organizational citizenship. When you reach out to new hires with a personal message on their first day at office, it has the immediate effect of zeroing down the gap between them, allows them to feel secure, welcomed and eases the frayed nerves that people usually feel on the first day of the job.

#4 Ready their Workstations so They Can Hit the Ground Running

Remember that an overwhelming majority of your new customer support hires are likely to belong to the millennial generation and are accustomed to accessing information, documents, and data with one click, courtesy the advances in digital technology. Take a leaf out of the new-age digital human resource management, and leverage technology to humanize onboarding for new hires into customer support. Replace the stacks of papers, forms, and documents with an integrated cloud-based human resource management system that does it all from a single window, is easy to use, and affordable. Create a complete road map for hosting your onboarding strategy and implementation on the cloud, reducing turnaround time for enrolment into the system, enhancing efficiencies of handling customer data and payment histories, and making the experience a lot more seamless than traditional methods.

#5 Enroll the New Customer Support Hires into the Human Resources System

The use of information technology and a digitized onboarding experience has a lot of advantages, yes, but it also comes with its share of problem areas. Of all the risks emanating from the digitized onboarding of new hires in enterprises, the risk of identity theft needs to be taken very seriously.

With almost every other person now having a significant digital presence, it makes sense to look at the numbers for incidents of identity theft worldwide. A basic training and demonstration on securing email accounts, access to customer data on a need-to-know basis, e-commerce cart histories of customers, usage of secure Wi-Fi networks with VPN and customer database during the initial days of the onboarding is a must. It sets the tone for your new customer support executives to take the issues of data theft, identity theft, and corporate reputation seriously, while also encouraging them to secure their identities on digital platforms.

#6 Keep the First Day Light on Training

The first day of work for your new hire calls for a few icebreakers to help them settle in. Keep the training sessions light on day one and adopt the cold turkey approach. Extend the training program over a period of one month or more if possible, unless your new hires have been recruited for an exigency. Essentially the first day’s conversations should focus on the customer service policies, code of conduct for customer communication, a brief on their job responsibilities, reporting systems and the corporate culture of your organization. A publication by Maxwell Huppert of NBC on LinkedIn, asserts that one of the three key factors in demonstrating the employer value proposition(EVP)5 to your new hires, is the corporate culture. The key is to understand that customer service calls for long-standing excellence and is an ongoing process. It has to be put to practice every day.

#7 Set a Support Team for Your New Customer Support Hires

Onboarding new hires into the company is not the exclusive responsibility of the human resources managers alone. Set up a team of professionals across departments to offer support to the new hire and take him or her through the initial phase of getting acclimatized to their new role. Your new customer support executives are likely to have a lot of questions on corporate communications, meeting exigencies, and crisis management. Let the existing executives across departments guide them through what it takes to drive customer excellence, and reinforce the philosophy of shared responsibility for driving customer service.

#8 Train Your Customer Support Staff for Personal Selling

Finally, always train your customer support team to practice personal selling. This simply means that your new customer support personnel have to be trained to personalize selling and customer service on the basis of data. With the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is not only possible but also profitable to do so. For instance, it is possible to keep a tab on suspicious transactions that show deviations from normal or expected transactional behavior of customers in the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) vertical through data mining applications. Similarly, your customer service team can look forward to leveraging insights from social media data, analyze customer sentiment, and develop predictive analytics to sell better and higher.

The objective is to enable the new hire to get comfortable with the customer support team, the reporting system and the job responsibilities of customer relationship management at the earliest. What can really speed up the process is giving the new hire a comprehensive support system to lean on, till they learn the ropes and settle into their functions.

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