Customer service representatives are the front line of business. Their response to customer requests and questions can determine customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers equal increased business. While learning by experience is a valuable teacher in any profession, it is in an employer's best interest to provide its workers with the training needed to do their job well. Training activities are not only good for business; they can boost morale, self-esteem and self-confidence.
Listening to customers, rather than merely hearing, reduces the risk of misunderstandings. This exercise forces the participant to actively listen to the words spoken to him. The activity is performed by two participants using a script from a play. One participant reads a character's lines from a random scene. This person portrays the customer. The second participant is the customer service representative. Without the use of the script, he listens to the words being said and responds in character, as if the line was a customer's request or complaint. The exercise promotes free thinking as well as active listening. The improvisation is bound to be humorous as the customer makes his unusual requests.
Just a Minute
Whether you interact with customers face-to-face or via telephone, it is important to respond to questions and concerns with authority. This exercise encourages quick thinking and allows the participant to evaluate her response and speech patterns. The participant is given a random topic to discuss. Possible topics could include: the customer is always right, how to deal with angry customers or a subject unrelated to customer service. Once the participant is given a topic, she has one minute to speak about the subject. The audience then evaluates the speech, critiquing for content, hesitations and speech deviations, such as "um" or "like." Recording the speech is helpful. Replaying the speech allows the participant to hear speech habits she wasn't aware of that may be annoying to a listener.
Speaking and listening are only two components of effective communication. Observation and recall are useful assets for the customer service agent. Remembering customers' names and past purchases can instill trust and loyalty in a business. This exercise tests participants' observation, listening and memory skills. The leader chooses 25 random objects. Participants are not allowed to view the items prior to the activity. The leader briefly displays the individual items and says the name of each object. Once the item is displayed, it is placed out of view of the participants. After all of the items have been seen, the participants have two minutes to write down the list of objects. Expand on the exercise by making participants include a brief description of each item.
While it may be easier to dismiss a person when not speaking face-to-face, this is not a viable option when providing customer care. It is essential to remember the anonymous voice on the telephone line is a valuable customer. This exercise challenges the participant to respond to an unusual or impossible request without disappointing or losing a customer. The exercise is performed by two participants seated back to back. One person is designated the caller, or the customer, and the other is the customer service agent. Each person is given a basic scenario to ad lib. For example, the caller is a long-time patron of a restaurant making reservations for a party of eight. The respondent is the hostess at the establishment, and the restaurant is completely booked for the night requested. The participants have three minutes to act out the scenario. After the allotted time, the audience is given the opportunity to evaluate and offer alternative resolutions to the conflict.