Tips for Engaging Professionals in Staff Training

Learning how to provide great customer service is a bit like learning to ski. You can head straight for the slopes and hope for the best, or you can engage the services of a professional instructor and ensure that good habits and proper form are ingrained right from the word go.

As with any partnership, trust and clearly defined expectations are key predictors of success. Just ask Cindy Byrd, former Human Resources Manager at Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing. “We already had a strong customer service focus, but we wanted to bring in a professional,” says Cindy, who notes that their organization obtained a list of trainers from go2HR, and then took it upon themselves to follow up with many of the listed consultants.

Rather than simply choosing a random facilitator from an extensive list, Cindy says they took their time to find a suitable match. “We conducted in depth interviews before we settled on Derek Gagné fromerly at Talent Edge solutions,” she notes, explaining that his wide ranging experience with ski resort clients and his understanding of the needs specific to Mike Wiegele were the deciding factors.

Choosing a training professional with knowledge of the specific challenges faced by your business is crucial. In order for the training to be effective, it has to reinforce and complement the existing workplace culture. Over the course of two days, the facilitator delivered five workshops of three hours each. While the sessions were aimed at front-line staff, members of the management team were present to reinforce the core messages.

Centred on defining success standards, Cindy says the workshops were extremely helpful in areas ranging from achieving positive first impressions to cultivating a proactive approach to customer service. By learning to plan for the unexpected, staff are empowered to anticipate needs in a positive way. Furthermore, the message communicated was one of taking ownership and responsibility for the customer experience. By reinforcing the idea of “service recovery”, staff are able to “own” complaints. This means they are encouraged to apologize when necessary, and, where appropriate, take steps toward finding a solution.

Engaging in professional customer service training reinforces the idea that every employee has a dual role. In addition to their primary responsibilities, each staff member needs to remember that he or she is also a company ambassador. According to Cindy, the professionally run sessions shed light on this integral idea. “The facilitator’s own experience, expertise and ideas bring a lot of added value,” she notes.

But the most valuable lesson, says Cindy, is that the training sessions resulted in increased communication from members of different departments. “This was a great way to learn from each other, and share information,” she affirms.

Whether you’re learning to ski, or honing customer service skills, training is always a smart investment. A professional can help you navigate steep challenges, anticipate twists and turns and instil confidence in your own innate abilities. Get off on the right foot and don’t be afraid to ask for professional advice. It’s a wise move, on and off the slopes.