In today's marketplace, it takes more than having the lowest price or being the first to release a product to remain above the competition. It takes exceptional customer service. Great customer service elevates an average company to stellar status, creating buzz that eventually influences the company's bottom line. Finding ways to motivate employees who interact with customers is essential for a company that wants to create a sustainable customer service model, noted Ozgur Ekmekci of George Washington University in his 2009 "SAM Advanced Management Journal" article. Motivating your team to provide excellent customer service can be free, entertaining and educational when you utilise some activities.
A training facilitator can engage customer service trainees with an ice breaker exercise that builds effective communication skills. The training activity called Speed Conversations was adapted from the popular singles trend of speed dating. In speed dating, individuals spend an allotted time--usually minutes--dating five to 10 people in one night at a prearranged location. As in speed dating, the customer service trainees sit across from someone at a table. The trainees' goal is to discover an entertaining fact about the other person in an allotted time before changing seats to speak with the next person. This activity engages trainees with one another while developing their conversation skills.
Never Say No
The Never Say No training exercise helps employees find alternative ways to communicate to customers that the company cannot fulfil their desires exactly how they wish. Trainees are divided into groups and are given the assignment to come up with words other than "no" to communicate their message. Teams are given a flip chart to record their words and a specified time limit. Then the teams present their words, and the team with the most positive new words or phrases wins. At the end of this exercise, the employees have a toolkit of phrases they can use instead of the word "no."
Trainee Becomes the Trainer
The Trainee Becomes the Trainer activity provides trainees with the opportunity to use their creativity and think of positive customer service interactions and solutions. Divided into small groups, the trainees receive the assignment to create role-playing scenarios of two customer interactions--a negative interaction and a positive interaction. The teams create the negative scenario first, and the positive scenario shows how to improve the negative scenario. The groups then demonstrate their role-playing scenarios to the entire team. After each group gives its presentation, the training facilitator allows discussion by the trainees.
ABCs of Customer Service
The ABCs of Customer Service activity is fast-paced and provides trainees with an opportunity to creatively brainstorm about customer service. Sitting in a circle or at a table, the trainees' objective is to come up with positive customer service strategies using letters of the alphabet. The first person starts with the letter "A," and the process continues with each trainee until the group has a customer service strategy for every letter of the alphabet. The facilitator lists each strategy on a flip chart.