But writing this manual isn’t so easy, especially when you’re starting from scratch.
So we’ve created a customer service training manual template that you can download and use as a framework for creating your own manual.
Before you get started, though, we have some advice on how to write an effective customer service manual that will help you train great representatives.
1. Start With the Customer
Most business training focuses on the trainee. You look at the skills and experience they’re bringing to the table, set a goal for the skills they’ll have at the end, and create a training program that fills in the gaps.
That’s how retail sales training works, and training in most other areas is similar.
But customer service training has to start with the customer. Business success requires that your customers have positive interactions with your customer service representatives (CSRs), that their problems get solved, and that they’re satisfied at the end of the interaction.
One of the things that makes customer service difficult is that each customer has different needs. They come to your CSRs with different issues, and they’ll need unique treatment to solve those issues.
Because of that, there’s a single attribute that stands out above the rest: empathy.
2. The Importance of Empathy
Empathy isn’t a word that you’ll hear in many discussions about business. But it’s crucial in customer service. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings and desires, and the best customer service agents have a great sense of it.
Possibly the most important facet of empathy in customer service is learning understanding what success and happiness mean to your customer. Sometimes they’ll both derive from something simple: unlocking their account after they enter their password incorrectly too many times, for example.
But it might be significantly more complex. It could involve reconfiguring a service to better serve a customer’s needs. Or getting in touch with the development team with a suggestion that will improve the customer experience.
So how do CSRs develop empathy? By learning to listen. Listening skills are the bedrock of customer service skills. The Apple Store is known for its great customer service, which is built on the acronym APPLE:
- Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome
- Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs
- Present a solution for the customer to take home today
- Listen for and resolve issues or concerns
- End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Both the “probe politely” and “listen for and resolve issues” steps are focused on empathy.
Even if it’s difficult listening skills in your customer service training manual, you can emphasize the importance of empathy and point your employees to useful resources that will help.
Remember throughout the entire training process that the focus should be on your customer, not your employee.
3. Define the Scope of Customer Service
Your customer service training manual will cover a set of topics that are relevant to customer service . . . but what does that include? You might be creating a training manual for customer service agents, but you might also be creating a document that will help your sales and marketing teams use customer service principles in their jobs as well.
Companies that provide legendary customer service place a strong emphasis on serving customers that starts at the top. CEOs need to be on board, and employees need to see that. The dedication to customer service should span every department and every rank, from the highest executives to the front-line representatives.
The scope of your document has to match the scope of what you consider “customer service” in your company, and you’ll want to define that early on in your training manual.
Modern customer service has started to take the scope beyond that of simply solving problems and troubleshooting and expanding it to include making sure the customer is satisfied throughout the sales, implementation, and use phases of the customer lifecycle.
This idea ties back into empathy—everyone in your company should be focused on helping customers achieve their goals. This is something that you should address early and with some emphasis in your training manual.
Shep Hyken points out that the employees who have the greatest effect on your customers might not be in the customer service department. It’s important to acknowledge that in your training.
A fully comprehensive customer service training manual might have a great deal of information not only about specific customer service policies, but about how people in all roles can foster a customer-service mindset. Make your training manual interesting and useful for everyone who’s thinking about customer service (which should be, at the very least, nearly everyone).