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Training and Customer Service

Updated on November 30, 2010

How do you treat your new starters? Do they get thrown in at the deep end - after all, they were hired for the skills you need, they should be able to just "pick it up" - right?? How did that go for you? Were they your high performers? No ... are you starting to wonder why?

In the Days of Yore

Hard to believe as it might be, companies did this! They left their new staff alone to "find their feet" and pick things up on their own. However, fortunately most companies now provide some sort of introductory training or orientation for most of their new employees. The better companies have a dedicated training department that helps to integrate all new employees and following this some sort of mentoring from another more senior employee in a similar role or position.

Initial Training

Now, the initial training - if done correctly - is actually a staged approach. Generally HR would be responsible for showing the employee around the company, giving a little bit of detail with regards to the kitchen, emergency exits and all the details about time off etc...

The training team or department would cover off the products and services that the new employee would be responsible for selling/servicing or supporting - in reality this should be a 2-3 week process at a minimum ... think about it like this, unless your company is brand new, the complexities of your product or service are something that has grown over time.

Ensuring that your employee is able to answer questions about it properly using the correct tools is not something that can be picked up in a day. If you are offering a proper training program - spend the time and do it right. This should be followed by "on the job" training and again ... spend the time to do it right. One additional point?

What about me?

DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR EXISTING STAFF!!

Do not restrict this to your staff at entry level positions. Ensure that staff in management positions also receive the same or similar training. This is beneficial for a couple of reasons -

  1. It ensures you have a extra staff - your management team- available to "jump in" in case of emergency;
  2. It gives your management team an insight into the work your staff do on a daily basis and as such a better understanding of your staff and their challenges and
  3. Your management team NEEDS to know how to use your tools!!! I cannot emphasize this enough - you do not need managers able to program routers, but you do need those managers to understand some of the alerts that your monitoring system provides to you. This team determines what issues get escalated and to whom and as such they need to have the appropriate tools available to them to make that right decision.

The technology in the workplace is changing very rapidly and companies that can't keep up will drop out of competition. It is definitely worth stating that you must ensure current and up to date internal and external training is available to your existing staff. I will cover that in more detail in some later posts though.

Is Training Worth it?

Surveys have determined that approximately 60% of companies are planning on offering some level of training to existing staff. Some of the reasons provided are the introduction of new technology into the work environment requiring staff retraining, improving employee performance and employee retentionin.

The current $ value assigned to these initiatives? About $2000/employee of which the largest portion was spent on technology and process related training initiatives. A paltry 2-3% was spent on New Employee orientation.

Now, I am not trying to dismiss the amount spent - even at $2000/employee it is still a significant cost and in industries with high employee churn - a major expense!

Flip it on its Head

Think about it another way though ...

  • Its not a cost if you take into account the amount of time its taken you to find that employee in the first place.
  • Its not a cost if you take into account the inherent knowledge that senior employee has obtained while working for your company.
  • Its not a cost if you can get these new (& old) employees being your advocate OUTSIDE of the workplace.
  • Its not a cost if you want to provide valued and useful and timely service to your customers!!!

Although mentioned last think about theĀ  final point I've said. Which type of employee is going to be able to provide better service to your customer? One that doesn't understand your company, its culture, products and services or one that does? In the end that is really THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to consider. The only reason you are in business is the customers that you have and the best way to keep them is by ensuring that you provide an unparalleled level of service to them.

Make sure that training becomes part and parcel of your company and its culture. You want to get the right people in the door and integrate them into your teams as quickly and seamlessly as possible. You also want to keep the people you have and ensure that you recognize that the training and development knowledge, attitude and skills of the employees you have are fundamental to your companies efficient and profitable performance.

Training should be so much a part of your culture that it is considered a benefit at the interview stage - you would be surprised at the number of people clamouring for this and the quality of these people!

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