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Add a creative spark to your customer service training

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Outstanding customer service is a worthy goal for every organization. Municipal, state and federal agencies are no exception. For you, expectations often focus on continuously improving in this key area. If you’ve tried the standard customer service training presentations and are looking for some creative ideas to jump-start your next customer service training session, you’re in luck! We’ve pulled together a few ideas to get you in the zone for making your next customer service training session a real hit.Find inspiration outside your agency
Customer service leaders can be found in almost every sector. Help your team see customer service in a new light by pulling together a panel of customer service specialists from other organizations who perform a similar function. For example, if your team answers phone calls, bring in representatives from other call centers to learn how they manage customer service challenges. If your team is responsible for in-person customer service, recruit panel members from retail or banking outlets that provide exceptional customer service.

Get the discussions going by asking panel members to answer questions about dealing with difficult customers, expected wait times or other relevant issues your team faces. Then, open it up to questions from your team. To encourage ‘refreshing’ questions from your team, hand out logo’d Mini Snap-It Tin w/ Sugar-Free Mints to those who ask questions and keep the conversation rolling. Thank your panel members for their time with the Kona Mug, Clean-Cut Aluminum Bottle or the Park Place Padfolio, all emblazoned with your organization’s logo, of course.

Use a game show theme
In Orlando, Florida, parking division employees are encouraged to attend quarterly training sessions focused on customer service. Sessions are developed by the marketing-customer services staff and highlight employee accomplishments and include role-playing exercises to help employees work through different situations.

What makes these sessions memorable?

The game show Q & A that follows each to reinforce the lessons learned. Employees compete as individuals but can ‘phone a friend’ and call on colleagues as needed. Winners receive T-shirts and other giveaways.  According to an article on the International City/County Management Association website, the program has received rave reviews from employees.  Recent customer surveys found more than 90% rated division staff friendliness and service high.

If you’re planning a game show theme, consider giving small logo’d prizes such as the Krypton Pen, the Eco-Friendly Zippered Neck Wallet or the Patriotic Picture Frame Magnet. Reward game show high scorers with logo’d clothing they can wear at work, such as the Easy Care Long Sleeve Dress Shirt, the Anvil 50/50 Jersey Knit Polo, or the Katahdin Tek Fleece Vest.

Make it personal
A month before the session, hand out the Memo Book w/ Pen and Paper or the Pocket Coil Notebook and ask your team to make notes daily about their customer service experiences at the grocery store, doctor’s office, the dry cleaner, and with online customer service or call centers. Ask them to jot down a brief description of what happened, how the customer service agent handled the situation and how they felt. When you gather for the training session, ask team members to pair up and share three memorable experiences with a partner. Then, ask them to describe lessons that could be applied in your agency. Discuss ideas and implement those with staying power. Basing the learning on your team’s experiences will help ensure the lessons stick.

Bringing in outside perspectives, adding the excitement of a game show and making customer service training personal are just a few ideas for adding a spark to your next session. With a little creativity, you can ensure your team gets involved and helps take your customer service to new heights. Good luck!

Gauvin, Mary Anne. “Game Show Exercise Improves Customer Service.” ICMA. ICMA, June 2006. Web. 4 Oct. 2009. <www.icma.org>.

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