How to Improve Customer Service Training by 900%

Imagine your employees need customer service training.

You want to hire a professional. Someone who can share cutting-edge concepts and really fire up the team. 

The standard approach is to look for someone like me. The trainer flies in, conducts the training, gets great reviews, and then leaves. 

Has that ever really worked out well? Motivation usually jumps for a few days and then employees gradually settle back into their old habits.

There's another approach. One that's 900% better and costs less

The 70-20-10 Rule

Research conducted by the Center For Creative Leadership is credited with developing the 70-20-10 Rule. It suggests that leaders learn their skills from three sources:

  • 70% from challenging assignments
  • 20% from developmental relationships
  • 10% from formal training

In truth, it's not really a rule. The 70-20-10 ratio is more of a guide. And, it can be applied to all sorts of training.

Let's look at what happens when we apply the 70-20-10 rule to a typical customer service training program:

 

The typical program focuses on formal training, which accounts for roughly 10 percent of learning. But, what about the other 90 percent?

That's usually not part of the plan.

Developmental relationships account for 20 percent of learning - twice as much as formal training. These usually come from a boss or mentor. Unfortunately, typical training programs often fail because the boss doesn't do much coaching to help employees develop their new skills.

The typical training also lacks a clearly defined initiative where employees' new skills can make a measurable difference. That's another 70 percent of learning they miss out on.

 

A New Approach

The good news is we can make a few tweaks to capture the missing 90 percent. And, we can reduce our costs at the same time, but more about that in a moment.

First, we need to identify a challenge for everyone to work on. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal in their classic book, Built to Last.

The idea is you can rally the team (or an organization) behind an important goal that focuses everyone's efforts.

My clients often identify a specific challenge through a customer service assessment. I offer a comprehensive version, but you can download this mini-version and try it on your own.

That challenge represents 70 percent of learning. We can capture the other 20 percent if the employees' supervisors are prepared to coach their teams.

There are often two big issues for supervisors:

  • They don't think they have time to coach
  • They don't know how to coach

You can solve both issues by enrolling supervisors in a one-on-one coaching program. They'll learn how to carve out the necessary time and how they develop their employees.

Add in the challenge and coaching and your training model now looks like this:

Reduce Your Costs

Remember that bit about adding in a challenge plus coaching while reducing your costs? Here's how you do that:

You do the training via video

Will a training video be as good as live training? The short answer is no. But, video can be extremely effective. And, remember that formal training is only 10 percent of the pie. Better to focus your resources on the other 90 percent.

Let's look at an example of the costs associated with training 30 employees using the typical approach versus the new approach.

I've made a few assumptions here, so your math might work out a little differently:

  • The average hourly wage is $15 per hour.
  • There are three supervisors who oversee the 30 employees.
  • The one-on-one coaching program for the supervisors costs $4,500.

The $900 cost of training for the new approach is based on a one month premium Lynda.com subscription for 30 employees at $29.99 per person. The actual cost can be lower than that with a volume discount. 

 

Bonus Benefit

Many of my clients have reminded me of a bonus benefit gained by the new approach.

Think about what happens when you bring in a professional trainer. That person does their training and then goes home. But, what do you do when you hire a new employee? Or, what happens when it's been six months and your team needs a refresher?

With the new approach, you have an easy source of ongoing development if you keep your access to the training videos!