You are a customer with a need. You realize that you need to provide your employees with a module that introduces the importance of customer service and how a higher level will benefit your organization, your customers, and your employees.
You can do one of two things. You can go buy any of a multitude of courses from the many companies that sell them. This could involve a package including a video with related materials or inviting a customer service trainer to come to a staff meeting and do a one-time only presentation.
Or, you can build your own. If you are a small company or nonprofit with limited resources, you have to decide which you have more of. Can you spare the money to purchase a course, or can you assign a team of employees with the time to build one for you?
The advantage to purchasing one is that you’ll have it in a couple of weeks and can begin delivering it quickly. But the downside to purchasing a course is that a good portion of it may not be relevant to your employees. Because it may not be totally relevant to them, they may tune it out and the end result will be no behavioral change. (And remember, your goal is to change behavior.) Bringing in a trainer may be better since you can provide him or her with more background about your organization. But what happens after the trainer leaves? Can you still use the materials? What about employees who miss the training or who are hired after the trainer leaves?
Customer service modules sold as packages are usually designed for the business sector and are not often relevant to those in the nonprofit field. In my organization, we looked at many, but ultimately we decided to put together our own module that newly hired staff would see as part of their training in the first 90 days. We assembled a team of seven people who took this on as one of those “other duties as assigned,” as they like to say in job descriptions.
This post is the first in a series that discusses the concepts we incorporated into our module. I will attempt to write these posts for two audiences, those who want to build a course, and those solely interested in the concepts of customer service.
If you decide to build your own course, here’s what you’ll need:
- Access to someone with experience in course design
- Subject matter experts (SMEs). These are experienced employees who have shown an innate ability to deliver superior customer service when selling your products or services.
- You may turn the course design over to a design professional or you may use a team of staff who are passionate about the topic and believe in the need to create one. In this model the course designer may be a part of the team, or is someone who will review your work at several points throughout the process.
- Time and money. Since this is one of those “other duties as assigned,” your team will have to fit this into their existing “to do” lists. It took us about nine months since we made this a noncritical task. Most of our work was built around monthly conference calls since our team was scattered across the nation. You may need a budget for those calls or for traveling to any face to face meetings.
Your SMEs may participate in the entire process, or you may bring them in for a one-time meeting where a course designer facilitates a meeting designed to identify the successful and unsuccessful techniques that work.
In summary, let me emphasize the importance of assembling people who are passionate about improving customer service in your organization. They should be from various departments and various levels within those departments. They may not be versed in course design, but they will have the motivation to carry this project through to completion. Once the course is launched they will become its advocates and quite possible its trainers.
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