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Invest in Customer Service Skills Now
By Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., President of Human Technologies Global, Inc.


No surprise that the current economy has taken its toll on training. Training budgets have fallen 11% over the last year—from $1202 per learner in 2007 to $1075 in 2008 (Training Magazine’s Industry Report, www.trainingmag.com, November/December 2008, p. 18).

However, this is not the time to be in a 'wait and see' mode or your competitors will pass you by.

In the Chinese language the word and symbol for crisis is the same as the word and symbol for opportunity.

Literally translated it is 'crisis is an opportunity riding on the dangerous wind.'*

In light of all that is in the media--which is either negative or fear based--it's not easy to shift your perception. That is not to say that there isn’t reality in some of what’s being reported. Scams, layoffs, bankruptcies, and companies, pensions, bonuses, even people who used to be count-on-able seem to be no longer.

What I see as happening is people are in 'frozen mode' not making any changes, no investment in people, process, or technology. Some organizations are using this time to downsize, reorganize, and/or do nothing.

I recently read about a man who travels very often and rents a car from the same organization. Because of cutbacks, the economy, and the fear, this company has eliminated the position of the person who would normally meet you outside as you return the car and you would be on your way. For those of you who travel, this is a convenience we have become used to. Now you have to park the car, come inside, stand in line, fill out paperwork, and then you can go to your flight. Not only does this cause inconvenience, but it becomes a time issue as well. You now have to add an extra 15 minutes at a minimum to your departure schedule.

When this happens on both ends, there's at least 30 minutes of time you never had to include before. I think this company (and others who have done the same practice) are shooting themselves in the foot.

I believe now is the time to streamline your organization and to build it up at the same time -- kick it up a notch -- so that the people who are with you are motivated, inspired, delighted to be with you, and that delight reflects itself in customer interactions.

Research has proven over and over again that investing in your people has direct impact not only on employee morale and satisfaction, but also on customer satisfaction and thereby, positively impacts the bottom line and your ROI.

Now is the time to invest in customer service skills training, i.e., communication skills, relationship building, listening, asking questions appropriately, anger diffusion, and conflict resolution as well as the tools needed to manage their time, their stress, and all the changes that are rampant in today’s world.

Speaking of stress, the latest study reports 8 out of 10 Americans are stressed because of the economy. So if you’re having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or are feeling fatigued, you’re in the majority. Anxieties about the economy are not only affecting Wall Street, but the majority of Americans as well.

Another good reason to include stress management techniques and strategies so that helping your employees will in turn help your customers.

Employees (and you) need to have the focus off the fear and on what you do have at the moment. And what you are in control of, which is:

1) Your attitude
2) Your commitment to your highest good
3) Your loyalty to your organization and customers
4) Your dedication to quality performance
5) Your thoughts, awareness, actions, and behaviors

We believe that with awareness comes control; with control comes choices, and when you have choices, most often you make good ones!

Choose to take great care of your employees who in turn will take great care of your customers.

* Excerpted from Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th edition by Rosanne D’Ausilio, PhD, Purdue University Press, p. 169 with permission.

About the Author
Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., industrial psychologist, President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management for contact centers, providing needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live, world class customer service skills trainings.

Known as 'the practical champion of the human, she authors the best-sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th edition, Customer Service and The Human Experience and Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack You Personal Deck, and hot off the press How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips as well as her popular ‘tips’ newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! available at http://www.HumanTechTips.com. Reach her at Rosanne@human-technologies.com.

 

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