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How to Build Successful Customer Service Training Manuals [With Examples]

Customer service is ever evolving and with influences from social media and online forums, this adds another layer of complexity that didn’t exist in the past. So developing a solid training manual for your team is key to successful customer relationships. 

Here are some important customer service statistics to keep in mind when developing or updating your manual.

  • 73 percent of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly customer service reps.
  • 68 percent of customers said the service rep was key to a recent positive service experience. 62 percent said that this was also due in part to the rep's knowledge or resourcefulness.
  • 78 percent of customers have backed out of a purchase due to a poor customer experience.
  • 93 percent of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service.

So, as you can see training customer service reps can either make or break your customer relationships. And if your customer service manual could use improvement, we’ll walk you through the process to create an effective one.

What are the benefits or a customer service training manual?

If you don’t have an official customer service training manual, you may wonder if you really need this document. And if you have one, what value can it really offer? Here are some reasons why customer service manuals add value.

1. Gives context to the job

Every employee has daily tasks, but sometimes they don’t understand how their role truly impacts the company bottom line. By creating a customer service training manual, you can show your employees how a job well done helps keep and get more customers to buy. This in return motivates and engages customer service reps to connect better with customers. 

2. Teaches soft skills

Most employees are hired based on their skill set to get the job done successfully. However, much of a customer service job is based around soft skills. These involve things like listening, communicating, understanding the customer issue and critical thinking. Many soft skills need to be taught once on the job to give it better context. Adding in scenarios and offering solutions within your customer service training manual is a great way to teach these.

3. Improves customer satisfaction

As we’ve mentioned before, happy customers are more willing to be repeat buyers. In addition, they are more willing to tell their friends and family about the great customer service they received from a company. So, if you can increase your overall customer satisfaction, you will increase your profit margin. Training via your customer service manual can teach how to resolve common customer complaints and decrease the number of call backs from a single customer. This also saves time and energy so that customer service reps can interact with more customers. 

4. Retains top talent

Your recruiting or HR department spent time and money to find qualified customer service reps. The last thing you want is your top performing team members to leave for competitors. Training is key to keeping these employees happy. The more skills and customer scenarios you can equip them with the better prepared they will be to do their job. And the more prepared they are, the more successful and happy they will be in their current role.

What are the steps to create a customer service training manual?

Now that you know the benefits of customer service training manuals, how do you go about creating one? Here are the steps to writing a training manual that properly educates and helps your team do their jobs more effectively.

1. Define your customer

Although customer service training is the same in many ways across industries, the types of customer interactions can be unique. For example, if your company is a hotel, you may need to train team members on current business promotions, or if your company is a clothing company, you may need to train on return policies. So look at who your customer is, what their needs are and how your team of reps can help meet their needs.

2. Align with company mission

Your customer service manual needs to align with what your company stands for. In other words, what does your company offer customers that competitors don’t? Once you have this answer, define how you can train your team to carry out this company mission. In addition, all employees from new hires to senior managers should understand this shared customer service mission. That way, your training manual will fit within the company culture.

3. Create a customer service policy

Once you know your customer and understand how your company can better support them, you’ll want to create a customer service policy based on the company mission. For example, Disney’s mission is “We create happiness by providing the best in entertainment for people of all ages everywhere.” So with this in mind, Disney’s customer service policy includes always being friendly to guests, accommodating requests and even keeping the park clean by throwing away trash as they see it. So figure out what tips will make sure your team members are successful when interacting with customers. 

4. Have frequently asked section

Although every interaction is different with a customer, there are some themes. For example, if your company is an online book company, you may get questions regarding receiving the wrong book, wondering where a shipment is and how to place an order. So with this in mind, list common customer questions with detailed responses as to how these should be answered. And to further illustrate your point, use real-life examples in your questions, so this paints a better picture for training purposes. 

5. List tools for reference

Think about any tools or other company contacts that would help with customer service. This should include a summary of different product lines or services. It’s also helpful to have contacts within the company if customer questions arise that are better served through a different department. That way customers can get their answers quicker. 

6. Include training on key systems

If you have call center representatives, you’ll need training on how to use the phone system. But beyond that, think about what other systems this individual may need to access. For example, a rep may need to reference the company CRM or the logistics software to further help with a customer issue. Think about all software and technology a person needs to know in order to serve the customers better.

Customer Service Training Manual

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Best practices for customer service training manuals

Now that you know the process for creating a great customer service training manual, let’s discuss a few best practices to keep in mind.

Plan additional training

A customer service training manual is vital, but you also want additional customer service training as well. Here are the courses to consider.

1. New hire training

When you onboard a new employee, there should be customer service training. This helps bring them up to speed on your customer philosophy, culture and what the overall goals are for success. Include any training on key products or services your company provides. That way, new employees have the knowledge to work successfully with your customer base from the start.

2. Ongoing training

Organizations are fluid and changes are going to happen. That’s why ongoing customer service training is key. For example, if you add new products mid-year or find out customer satisfaction scores are low, changes will be made. And these changes need to be reflected in the training. It’s also a good idea to refresh customer service soft skills like proper communication and working as a team to better help customers.

3. Time-sensitive training

Some changes happen quickly like a product recall or crisis situation involving a new product campaign. When major shifts like this happen, customer service reps and employees need to understand these shifts in direction. That’s why additional training should be added immediately in these situations. During training, explain why the change and how best to respond to customers. 

Update regularly 

A customer service manual should be agile. In other words, it should be updated, if for example, new products are added or a new corporate vision is defined. You should also use tools like surveys and feedback from call center reps to tweak your manual. Find out what’s working from your employees and what’s not. Also incorporate feedback from your customers. 

Make accessible to all employees

Whilst certain employees interact with customers on a regular basis, all employees serve the customers. So every employee should have access to, reference and be familiar with your customer service training manual. 

Digitize it

Customer service information can be detailed, thus creating a large paper document isn’t effective. A better way is to digitize it. So make it interactive. Have boxes employees can click on for further clarification or add hyperlinks to videos. You can also point employees to further customer service training within your learning management system. 

Form a mentor program

Gather your top performing customer service reps and have them train more junior staff members or employees who may need some extra help. Sometimes peer to peer learning is the best way to improve needed skills. You could even take this one step further and create a formal mentor program. The top performers could each be paired with a more junior staff member to get them up-to-speed more quickly.  

Examples of great customer service programs

Now that you know the process of creating customer service training manuals, let’s look at some industry standards that really go above and beyond. The best way to bring your training manual to life is through creative thinking that goes beyond policies and thinks about your customer needs. These companies do this really well.

Forbes asked the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to rank the top 20 companies they felt were great at customer service. The ACSI provides customer service numbers based on major industries. Here are the top five they mentioned and why.

1. Chick-fil-A 

Chick-fil-A has the same set of standards for customer service training across all its franchises and locations. This includes having employees say "my pleasure" instead of "you're welcome," placing flowers on tables and offering free food when there are customer complaints.

2. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s uses less SKUs than larger grocery store chains so that their employees can become more knowledgeable of their products. That way when customers have product questions, employees can not only point out where to find products in the store, but how to cook with them. The company also holds food tastings for new products so that employees can better be equipped to serve their customers.

3. Aldi

Aldi realized customers wanted a “no-frills” experience to grocery shopping so their approach is “make it easy” to shop with low prices. This sentiment carries through to their customer service where employees feel more like a friend or family member when helping customers shop. This puts customers at ease and makes grocery shopping less of a chore.

4. Amazon

Amazon is another company that ranks at the top of the customer service category. As part of their customer service training, their CEO makes managers sit through call center training. That way upper management can understand what the customer is asking and what the responses should be. The message is every team member within the organization needs to “not only listen to the customer, but understand them.”

5. Lexus

Car maker Lexus rounds out the top five for customer service. Their goal is to go the extra mile when greeting customers at their dealerships. They have “a host” who checks in customers and even grabs their favorite drink while they wait. In addition, team members are trained to be enthusiastic when turning over the keys to a brand new vehicle to a happy customer.

Creating your customer service experience through training

We’ve given you a plan for creating a workable customer service training manual. The key to remember is what goals your company has and how these goals ultimately help your customers. With that in mind, creating a customer service strategy will connect all employees to your company vision. And with the right training, you’ll retain longer standing customers and more repeat buyers.

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