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Jon Kennard


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Why we need better customer service training


Jo Marshall explains how staff training and engagement can help the public sector deliver improved customer satisfaction.

A high level of customer service is something that we all expect in today’s society, whether that’s in our personal or professional lives. Poor customer service can cloud our perception of a company or organisation, and even lead to an erosion of trust and confidence. Let’s face it; it’s hard to forget bad customer service. 

The most recent Institute of Customer Service (ICS) bi-yearly Customer Satisfaction Index has revealed a slight increase in customer satisfaction across both the public and private sector, after dropping to its lowest level since 2010 earlier this year.

So how can we continue to reverse the trend? Members of the public are looking for added value from the companies and organisations that serve them. They are demanding greater convenience, speed and personalised services. Organisations and companies need to be able to keep pace with these demands, ensuring that customer engagement is evolving in line with expectations. Therefore, ensuring that customer-facing employees are well-equipped to respond to the unique customer service demands of the public sector is critical. By offering effective, ongoing training and development to employees, organisations can significantly improve customer satisfaction.

This is often easier said than done. Training and development initiatives are often hard hit by spending cuts. Moreover, the financial challenges facing public sector organisations may have an impact on the ability to deliver outstanding customer service. Cuts to services and the workforce mean that many public authorities are already stretched to maintain existing service levels. Managing competing priorities within a tight budget can mean that an innovative customer service agenda is of less importance.

However, we strongly believe that good customer service in the public sector is not just ‘nice to have’ – it should be a given. According to research carried out by the Institute of Customer Service, leaders across the public sector have identified improving customer service as a central strategic objective, and customer service training is essential to achieving this goal. 

So what is excellent customer service and how can we achieve it? Great customer service should leave customers feeling satisfied and confident. It should improve customer outcomes, loyalty and trust, whilst also reducing inefficiencies. Organisational-wide training is important to develop service knowledge and skills across the workforce. Training can also help to generate service improvement ideas that contribute to excellent customer service delivery. 

Achieving excellent customer service requires buy-in from all members of staff, regardless of their role and responsibilities. A programme of proactive employee training and engagement helps to foster a customer-focused culture, ensuring the entire workforce is working towards the same service aims and objectives. 

Understanding more about the customer and/or the people being served is also paramount. Gathering and analysing insights about customer needs and requirements ensures organisations are better placed to understand the customer experience and, as a consequence, implement the right changes, which provide maximum benefit for customers. Harnessing technology and ensuring that members of staff have the right skills to employ it is a crucial element of this activity. 

People working across the public sector are facing considerable pressure to deliver services in challenging circumstances. However, as customers are increasingly demanding better and better customer service, so it is the responsibility of organisations and companies to ensure that service is constantly improving and surpassing expectations.

Good customer service is expected, but great customer service is what all organisations should be aiming for – and a low-cost, but effective, training agenda can help ensure that. 

Jo Marshall is commercial director at YPO

One Response

  1. Amazing piece of Information!
    Amazing piece of Information!!

    I think customer service training can be a hugely beneficial thing to invest in, as it is considered as an overall approach to systematic improvement in customer service experience. Because customer service plays a vital role in a company’s ability to generate more income & revenue, this can be used to motivate customer service staff that they are absolutely important and business is nothing about them.

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Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

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