Customer Service Training: 12 Things to Keep in Mind When Training Newbies

Jenny Dempsey Jenny Dempsey · 5 min read

Good customer service training is one of the most important components of your support team’s success.

Customer service isn’t just a box to check. 

It’s the pillar that enables customer success, unlocks customer satisfaction, creates brand loyalty, and propels organizations towards sustainable growth. And that means figuring out how to effectively train new customer service team members is mission critical.

To create unforgettable customer experiences, you need to lay a sturdy foundation that sets your team members up for success. A great customer service training program enables new hires to quickly make a positive impact, helping customers and boosting the success of your support team. 

Let’s explore twelve crucial things for managers to keep in mind when training new customer service team members.

Start your day 
with great 

Creating a customer-centric culture

Close your eyes and picture this: 

A hesitant customer calls your contact center, seeking a helping hand on something they’re stuck with. And there, at the other end of the line, is a new team member, armed with a genuine smile and a real desire to help. 

That team member listens intently, giving their undivided attention to the customer’s needs. 

But they don’t stop there—they go the extra mile, addressing every concern and even proactively suggesting additional resources and tips to help the customer be more successful.

In those conversations, something magical happens

A connection—a thread woven with expertise and empathy—is forged between your team member and the customer. It’s a spark created by an extraordinary customer service culture.

And while it might sound wonderful, how do you actually train a new agent to do this?

During new hire training, customer service managers can:

  • Communicate the significance: Clearly articulate the importance of each customer interaction. A great way to do this is to link specific customer stories to the company’s mission and vision, emphasizing how exceptional service aligns with organizational goals. Unfortunately customer service is sometimes looked down upon—managers need to be proactive about highlighting the massive impact that a customer service agent has, day in and day out.
  • Share real-life examples: Illustrate the power of exceptional customer service through real-life examples from both the agent and customer perspectives. Highlight success stories where outstanding service led to customer loyalty, up-sells, and advocacy. But don’t pretend that everything always goes perfectly—also make space to discuss valuable lessons learned from past mistakes and conversations that went awry. 
  • Emphasize measurable impact: Highlight the tangible impact of customer satisfaction on your company’s overall growth and success. When a support agent is pulling tickets from a queue all day, it’s easy to forget how your work translates to big-picture impact. While metrics are important tools for managing your team, they’re also essential for motivating your team to give their best every day. Find ways to connect your new agents’ work to meaningful KPIs like revenue and retention.

Empower them to empathize and innovate

Effective communication is the cornerstone of delivering fantastic customer experiences. Empower your team members to practice reflective listening and empathize with customers, while also making sure they have the resources and tools they need to do the job right.

When you’re onboarding a new team member, use these three best practices to inform how you train them:

  • Foster innovation: It’s easy to get stuck in certain routines, especially when you’re a support team dealing with a high volume of tickets. When you bring a new team member into the mix, encourage them to ask questions and bring innovative ideas to the table. Their fresh perspective on your team’s normal processes can often shed light on better ways of doing things. By nurturing their sense of ownership from their very first week, you empower new hires to embrace customer issues as their own and find creative solutions.
  • Equip them with tools and resources: Every support team’s tech stack is a little different, so spend time up front training your team members on the tools at their disposal. Most importantly, set them up for ongoing success by teaching them how you expect them to communicate with customers. You’re probably using a ticketing tool like Zendesk or Help Scout—how should your team use it? What macros do you have in place?

    In addition to tools, creating resources for “in the moment” guidance is also helpful. You might create a resource spelling out your company’s preferred tone. You could create a resource with suggestions on providing accurate and empathetic responses, enabling them to handle various situations with confidence.
  • Escalation guidelines: Even the best frontline support agents can’t solve everything. Don’t assume your new team members know what to do if they’re stuck on a support ticket. Create clear guidelines detailing when and how they can escalate problems. This ensures customers get the help they need, while also helping your new hires know they’ve got the support they need. 

Help them learn about your product(s)

Giving your team members a solid understanding of your company’s products or services is crucial. How can they help a customer use the product if they don’t even know how to use it? 

Let’s be clear: no one will ever know everything about your product. Products and services constantly evolve, and the best support agents are constantly learning new things.

While that’s true, you can still create engaging ways to help new team members learn your products. Engaging your new hires in a dynamic and interactive learning experience will help keep them excited and will help them retain what they’ve learned long after training ends.

Here are some ideas for making new hire training exciting:

  • Interactive learning: Use quizzes to challenge their knowledge, hands-on demonstrations to provide firsthand experience, and simulated scenarios to test and improve problem-solving skills.
  • Collaborative exploration: Foster collaboration and camaraderie by assigning small groups of new hires to delve deep into specific products or services. Encourage them to explore knowledge base resources and create impactful presentations or demonstrations to train others and show off what they’ve learned.
  • Shadowing sessions: Provide new team members with the opportunity to observe experienced team members in action. Listening to calls or observing live chat interactions will immerse them in real customer interactions and teach them effective communication techniques.

Effective training engages your team members and makes learning more fun. 

Strategies for handling difficult customers

When it comes to dealing with difficult customers, new team members often feel anxious. When you’re a seasoned customer service professional, it’s easy to forget how scary an upset customer might feel.

Equipping them with effective strategies can transform these encounters into triumphs

Help your new members shift their perspective on negative situations with ideas like:

  • Reframing skills: Teach them how to reframe customer concerns into valuable feedback for growth. Reframing can turn negativity into constructive insights and can open up new paths forward for you and your customers. 
  • Real-life case studies: Craft a case study based on a challenging customer situation your team has faced before. Assign individuals or small groups to analyze and brainstorm strategies on how to respond to the challenge.

Effective communication: Teach your new team members best practices on using neutral language, maintaining a respectful tone, not taking things personally and seeking common ground to resolve conflicts. The best way to practice these skills is often to put them into practice, so create space for role play and practice sessions during your training sessions.

Customer service training for new team members is a journey

As a customer service manager, you know that customer service training is not a one-and-done deal. It’s an ongoing journey of growth and development. 

So, buckle up and get ready to inspire continuous learning and growth in their role

When organizations invest in the growth and development of their team members, magic happens. Unforgettable customer interactions become the norm, paving the way for loyal advocates who sing your brand’s praises from rooftops. It’s a ripple effect that propels your company forward, helping you stand out from the competition and succeed for years to come. 

How did you like this blog?


Jenny Dempsey Jenny Dempsey

Jenny is a freelance contractor and consultant who assists businesses in enhancing their customer experience and community management. She co-founded Customer Service Life, a blog focused on service excellence. She also teaches a beginner customer service course on Udemy. She believes that customer service is just people helping people, and she strives to keep that at the forefront of everything she does.

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