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Training workshops for customer care – review


Title: Training workshops for customer care
Editor: Terry Gillen
Publisher: Gower Publishing
ISBN: 056608399X
Price: £195

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Terry Gillen first published his Training workshops for Customer Care over 10 years ago. Since then much has changed in the world of Customer Care/Customer Service. Concepts such as Customer Relationship Management, Lifetime Value and Value Chain Management have emerged as important players. Developments in IT, both generally and specifically in terms of the internet have dramatically changed the way in which suppliers and customers interact. Technological changes have also led to a general increase in speed and a consequently growing customer expectation of rapid, if not instance, response. IT has also given organizations access to new customers and created new ways of meeting, or failing to meet customer expectations. The whole context against which public and private sector organizations provide for their customers has changed enormously.

This second edition of Training Workshops for Customer Care has been revised to reflect the significant changes to the world in which Customer Care is offered and received. The author seems very clear, however, that, while the ways in which Customer Service is delivered have changed, the fundamentals of good service remain unchanged.

The pack contains 16 ‘workshops’ the longest of which requires two hours to run, while others can be completed in less than an hour. The materials is neatly laid out, the normal content for each workshop is:

- Trainer’s Notes – giving background, purpose, objectives, duration and required facilities

- Trainer’s Guide – explaining the stages of the workshop and giving ‘stage directions’ on what to do/use when and offering questions and comments to use to engender discussion

- Exercises and Case Studies for use by participants (Trainer’s versions with suggested answers are available where appropriate)

- Handouts – these form a permanent record of the workshop’s key messages

This is a relatively slender pack – slightly under 200 pages, but it is a heavyweight in terms of content, key messages and scope of coverage. Gillen obviously recognizes that customer Care/Service is much more than being nice to people because it is a good thing to do. Several of the workshops punch home the strategic significance of good Customer Service to a range of organizations. The financial benefits of ‘getting it right’ are clearly explained, as is best practice in communication with customers whether face-to-face, by ‘phone or by e-mail. The concept of internal customers and suppliers is neatly addressed several times.

The exercises are, in the main, well thought out, effectively resourced and easy to run. I particularly liked the case study exploring the effects of alternative responses provided in workshop 13 – Challenging Customers. The one on Value Chain Management in workshop 14 is also thought-provoking.

The package is presented in such a way that it would be a useful resource for trainers, but could also be used by Line Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders. The workshops, overall, are designed to impact strongly on people’s performance at work. Skills and attitudes are addressed and some shibboleths explained and exploded.

This would be a useful resource for anyone who wants to use training to improve the provision of Customer Care in their organization. The workshops can be used as they are or in many cases they could be adapted or personalized.
Diane Bailey


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