Customer Service Training

Training and coaching for frontline staff and team leaders and managers is integral to enabling them to improve customers’ experience. All staff with roles that involve customer contact – be that face to face, over the phone, by e-mail or web chat – can benefit from developing their ‘soft’ skills. And this will improve both their sales performance and their service performance.

Cape Consulting offers cutting-edge training that utilises up to the minute research and techniques from Social Psychology, Transactional Analysis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The techniques are simple yet powerful. Above all, the feedback we get from our training is that it is fun – both inside the training room and back in workplace – and effective. It drives results!

We think it is important to work with the existing skills that your staff already have – we don’t believe that ‘one size fits all’. We align the existing skills of your staff to the customer experience you want to create and help them to consistently apply new techniques. For instance, open questions are useful in most sales and service situations and are standard fare in most customer service training, but do your staff use left brain questions to move customers forward and achieve results more quickly?

To make sure your investment pays off, we help you align your performance management, reward and recognition, customer measures, ongoing coaching and training – so that everything supports your staff in delivering a great customer experience.

Do your people make these common mistakes on the phone?

Listen to the sound bite and see if you can spot four common mistakes that frontline staff often make when they are introducing themselves. If you want to see if you have spotted those mistakes – email us on with your suggestions! We’ll let you know the right answer -and we promise not to charge you for the advice!

Cape Consulting call centre soundbite
Right click and download sound bite

Better still send us a 2 or 3 minute clip of one of your calls and we will listen to it for you and let you know how we can help!
Please take care to protect your customers’ confidentiality and ensure that you do not contravene the Data Protection Act.


Front-line Coaching – The key to unlocking staff potential!

‘My staff have been trained, why aren’t they hitting their targets?’

‘What do I need to do to help my people perform better?’

These are two questions often asked by front-line managers and team leaders.

Assuming that they have recruited the right staff, and trained them effectively, then the answer to these two questions is very likely to include coaching.

All training professionals will have seen customer-facing staff turn up on training events, not really knowing why they are there and having no particular objectives for their time away from their desks.

This says a couple of things:

  • Their line manager or team leader has not briefed them on the content of the training, and why it is important for them to attend
  • Their line manager or team leader is not focused on making sure they (and their people) maximise the value they get from the time spent in the training room.

This is a desperate waste of money and probably suggests what will happen after the training…….. not a lot! All too often the line manager / team leader does not play their role in helping the customer-facing member of staff to implement their new skills – so any changes for the better are short lived.

The diagram below illustrates the process we all follow when we all learn.

Consider learning to ride a bicycle. First of all you had a go and probably wobbled or even fell off! (Do).  Next, you got up and tried to figure out what went wrong (Review). With the help of mum or dad, you decided what you needed to do differently next time (Learn). Finally you got right back on and had another go (Apply). Then you kept repeating until you got it right!

Most behavioural training will go through this process a couple of times but there is simply not enough time on a course to practice so that new behaviours are adopted. Just as in learning to ride a bicycle – it takes time to be able to do something new – more practice is required in order to perfect the skills.

This means that a successful outcome for any behavioural training intervention sits squarely with the first-line manager / team leader not the trainer. They must be integral to the process and make sure that the learning cycle is repeated until the learning is embedded into every day activity. All too often this does not happen, the training department gets criticised and management is disappointed with the results!

First-line managers and team leaders are the vital key to developing customer-facing skills and unlocking the true potential at the customer interface. Excellence in customer experience delivery requires the skills developed in behavioural training to be embedded in the workplace.

This is where coaching becomes critical – after behavioural training has taken place, customer-facing staff need support and encouragement to apply what they have learned in the real world.

Just like learning to ride a bicycle, this involves experimentation to see what works plus coaching to help develop competence further as the member of staff gains confidence.

It is important to distinguish between coaching and feedback at this point.

Feedback tends to be a one way process, and may damage staff confidence or meet with resistance. For instance “You forgot to mention xyz” is feedback. Coaching on the other hand seeks not to tell but to ask and listen. There is a time and place for both.

Questioning and listening are the key skills required of a coach. The aim of coaching is to help the member of staff to identify options and find their own solutions. This process is consultative; it empowers them and builds both their competence and confidence. If they get stuck – then, of course, you may offer advice – but be sure that they really are stuck first, and ONLY offer advice if they ask for it. After all it is unlikely you will unleash potential if you are talking!

An effective and simple framework for coaching is I – GROW.

Issue/Challenge – something that the member of staff is unhappy with and would like to change. Tip – most people are quite good at noticing this and often tell you without asking – take this as an invitation to coach! This often happens naturally if the member of staff listens to one of their own calls.

Goal – Clearly establish the aim of the coaching session. How things would be if their issue/challenge was resolved – what would be happening, what would they hear/see? How would they feel? Tip – Goals may initially be expressed as sales (output goals) which is great, but be sure to drill down to identify what they need to DO during a customer interaction to achieve that (input goals). It is key to have both.

Reality – Use questioning to find out what is happening in the staff member’s world. What they noticed, how they rate their current performance, how often their issue/challenge happens, when it doesn’t happen. Tip – Make sure you spend a lot of time exploring reality as you must raise their awareness of what is really happening, not give your own interpretation.

Options – The aim is for the staff member who is being coached to come up with as many ideas as possible to meet their goal. Take care not to judge the options, the point here is to get them actively involved in problem solving so the solution belongs to them. Tip - If an idea seems unrealistic you can get the staff member to assess feasibility by asking them to assess the pros and cons of each option. Remember, only offer advice if you are sure they have run out of ideas.

Will – The final step is to ask them to choose which options they will take forward. During this stage make sure the option selected meets the goal set. Also make the goal SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bounded. Tip – If you sense that the member of staff is not fully committed do not be afraid to challenge, and ask what needs to change to make them fully committed. This may involve a whole new coaching session!

Supporting behavioural training with coaching is not really an option – it is essential. It will also mean that you develop your people to think for themselves, assess their own performance and plan their own development.