“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” –Benjamin Franklin
In our line of work, we often began our jobs with a specific course of training. Over time, we’ve likely done occasional case study challenges to refresh how we want to be approaching cases. These are both valuable and necessary ways to enable us to do our jobs well, but we can also take things a step further through open-ended skill building.
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One of the greatest assets a customer service representative can have is the ability to take in everything that a customer is saying and then distill it down to key points. We can practice this skill by working on our summarizing ability, just as we did in school. Testing ourselves by listening to short passages read aloud or written down (they needn’t even be about customer service to be valuable) and then briefly outlining the story will help hone not only our listening skills, but also our ability to correctly get the gist of our customers’ situations and needs.
Another invaluable skill is the ability to correctly rank a customer’s needs in a hierarchy so that we can put out the biggest fire first. Like with the ability to correctly summarize, practice makes perfect when ranking needs. Have members of the team tell stories about a time when they had challenges that needed to be dealt with (any story from needing to plan a big holiday meal to having a car break down will work) and then quickly arrange the noted issues in order of importance. Go back and ask the teller of the story to rank the issues and see how well you did at inferring what the subject cared most about.
We may not be athletes, but our job training approach should parallel what athletes do because practice really does make perfect. And by utilizing varied exercises that all contribute to building a core skill set, much like how a runner will spend time not just running, but also lifting weights or working on flexibility, we will be well on our ways to becoming the very best in our field.
“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” –Jim Rohn