Customer Service Role-plays, designing a Customer Service Training Module

Published: 02nd July 2010
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Customer service role-plays are essential to training and improving the skills of customer service personnel. A well designed thirty minute training module using role-plays will give a quick boost to focus, knowledge, skills and customer focus.

Using customer service role-plays in a training module is very effective both for new staff and for existing customer service staff. New staff get an opportunity to practice your typical interactions and scenarios in an environment where they can try again to perfect their approach and skills. Existing staff can move back from running on automatic, to heighten awareness and refresh their core customer service skills. They gain great benefit from sharing tips and techniques for handling problem calls or challenging callers.

It is important to structure your training module to gain maximum benefit from the customer service role-plays. Each role-play should generate potential learning points for the person playing the part of the Customer, for the other team member playing the role of your member of staff and for other members of the group who are observing. However, the learning will only take place if -

1. They are all open to finding the learning points

2. They have a good de-brief at the end of the module.

Beginning the Customer Service Training Module

In any training module, introducing the activity by identifying clear objectives is critical. If you state your objectives clearly, the group will be focussed on the learning goals, and you will have a much higher percentage chance of success. In each customer service role-play, identify an area of focus for the group, perhaps the beginning of the call on one, positive confident language on another or how a particular issue is handled on another.

If you need ideas for focus areas, go on to YouTube and search for customer service role-plays. There are some very good examples there, with guidelines for different sections of call.

Identify Clear Goals for each Role-play

Introduce the scenario to the group, with details of the Customer, their emotional state, their situation and their query. Identifying clear goals for each interaction is essential to success. Ask the group what a SUCCESSFUL outcome would be for the Company, and for the Customer. It is important that the outcome goals cover both the task to be achieved on the call, the query resolved or information given, and the emotional state we want the Customer to be in at the end of the call.

Ask the group to prepare for the customer service role-play, to work through each phase of the call from the greeting to successful close. This is a talk through, where they simply tell us how they will carry out the call, what they will say at each phase and how they will say it.

Running the Customer Service Role-plays

It is often tempting to use really difficult situations or challenging Customer types for role-play practice. This is not a good place to begin, even with very experienced staff. If the group have not used role-play as a training medium before, it is important to begin with easy queries to heighten awareness to core skills and best practice.

Choose queries that the group receive frequently for the first few customer service role-plays, those that they should be able to handle really well. Ask the group to focus on both skills and the timing of the call as they move from one phase to another. Have them record the calls, and play them back. The idea on these easy calls is to analyse the good skills and techniques that are essential on any call, and to identify what could have been done better.

When your team have had a few training sessions and are using the core customer service skills and techniques effectively, you can introduce the more difficult topics or challenging customer types. Again, role-play straight through, record and play back. When playing back, stop the tape at critical points, perhaps where the call went out of control, or where the CSR saved a tricky situation. Allow the group to identify strengths and to workshop improvements.

De-briefing the Customer Service Role-play

As with any training, the learning is underlined by the de-brief. Ensure that all three groups share their experience and identify learning points -

1. The Customer

2. The CSR

3. The Observers

A huge advantage of customer service role-plays is that the team member steps in to the Customer's shoes and gets to see their view of the world. They feel the impact of every word and every phrase in the interaction, and this helps improve their call handling immensely. It is important that this person shares their feelings at each stage of the call.

Ensure that very clear points are identified and that these are written down. A brief discussion as to how we can apply the learning will complete your short, successful role-play training module.

Kate Tammemagi specializes in training Managers in Customer Service roles and in designing Customer Service Courses and Sales Training.


Video Source: Youtube


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