Your guests are your most valuable asset–and the competition will do anything to steal them. In order to keep your treasured clientele loyal–and your rivals empty-handed–you need to ensure that you provide excellent customer service all the time, every time. This means equipping your team for victory. And possibly sending them to school.

School? Yes, school. Your team may not need to board a big yellow bus with knapsacks strapped to their backs, but it may be beneficial for them to engage in ongoing training in customer service. And, yes, this may involve taking classes.

The Venue

As the hospitality industry and other sectors begin to realize the need for excellence in customer service, educational institutions are clamoring to win their custom by introducing a myriad of pertinent courses.

Whether you opt for covering your employee’s tuition for a lengthy program that leads to a certificate, diploma, or degree, or you choose a quick refresher, your company will reap a heap of rewards.

Plus, thanks to the huge number of online options available, your employees will be able to meet both their job, family, and training obligations.

And don’t buy into the misconception that online courses are easier than their in-class counterparts. As “How Instructors Create Engaging Online Courses” states, “online teachers approach distance learning as seriously as classroom-based courses,” using the same curriculum and imparting the same knowledge.

The Benefits

Why should you invest in formal customer service training as opposed to simply holding a seminar or workshop in your place of business? Here are a few convincing reasons.

  • Better Skills. The most obvious benefit is, of course, improved customer service skills including communications, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and empathy, to name just a few. Thanks to the comprehensive training offered by a reputable institution, your team will have a larger repertoire of competencies to call upon when interacting with your clientele, which leads to the next benefit–happier guests.
  • Happier Guests. A highly trained team will lead to greater guest satisfaction and stronger relationships with your clientele. This equates to an increase in loyalty–which will make it much harder for your competition to lure your guests away. According to “The Benefits of Customer Service Training,” the right training program will equip your team to “exceed guest needs and expectations, deliver an experience a guest can value, and provide an environment where courtesy, helpfulness, and a warm welcome are standard.” Basically, the right training program will impart the recipe for customer service success.
  • Higher Profits. Yes, training does not come cheaply, but the resulting increase in business will more than make up for the expense. First of all, your friendly and highly trained staff will be better able to convert inquiries into bookings. Secondly, your expertly trained team will achieve higher levels of customer retention. Thirdly, happy guests will spread the word about your excellent service, leading to potential new clientele. “4 Key Benefits of Customer Service Training Programs” sums it up as “improved customer service + increased customer satisfaction + increased customer loyalty = an increase in profit.” And, one cannot forget that the expertise achieved through training will enable your workforce to work more efficiently–further increasing productivity and improving your bottom line.
  • Increased Morale. Lots of employers run their own workshops, but only the most caring employers invest in their employees’ educations. Whether this is true or not, it is the perception of many of your team members. By affording them the opportunity to pursue an actual certification, you are not only better equipping them for the job at hand, but you are also letting them know that you value them as people and that you want to help them further their careers. This leads to greater employee retention, an increase in morale, and an enhanced willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Stellar Brand Image. By providing your team with customer service training, you are also fostering a positive reputation for your company brand. “Why Employee Training Matters in Retail” reminds companies to “consider all of the seemingly small actions your staff performs that ultimately affect a customer’s experience. From answering the phone to greeting patrons as they walk in and answering all potential questions competently, the details add up to create part of your brand image.” And if these duties are performed by individuals with excellent customer service skills, your brand image will, in turn, become one of excellence.

The best way to defeat the competition is to outdo them in the area that matters most–customer service. And the best way to get the job done is through equipping your team with the best customer service training possible. No yellow bus required.

What customer service training initiatives has your company tried? What proved to be the most effective?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer and avid blogger who loves going to school, but hates riding school buses. You can follow her at kimberleylaws.com.

Image courtesy of Thinkstock.com.