Simple Training Plan: Serving Upset Customers 101

I often get calls from customer service leaders who want to do some training for their team, but face a few challenges:

  • Budgets are limited.
  • It's an operational nightmare to get everyone scheduled into a class.
  • A single workshop won't produce sustainable results.

That's why I'm experimenting with a series of training plans that take a novel approach. They're inexpensive, easy to implement, and they produce lasting change.

Best of all, you can implement them without hiring an expensive consultant or trainer like me. The first topic is my most requested: Serving Upset Customers 101.

If it works and I find that people are using it, I'll make more training plans. (Side question: Leave a comment or contact me and tell me what topics would you like to see.)

Overview: Serving Upset Customers 101

Participants will be able to do the following at the end of this training:

  • Recognize natural instincts that make it difficult to serve angry customers
  • Listen to upset customers with empathy
  • Retain more customers by neutralizing negative emotions

The course is designed to minimize disruption of normal work schedules:

  • Short weekly team meetings
  • Individual, self-paced assignments between meetings

This course is the first in a three part series:

  • Part 2: Serving Upset Customers, Eliminating Repeat Service Failures
  • Part 3: Serving Upset Customers, Preventing Customer Anger

Resources Required:

  • Worksheet: Workshop Planning Tool, cost: $0
  • Training Video: Working with Upset Customers. You'll need a Lynda.com or LinkedIn Premium subscription for each participant. Subscriptions for Lynda.com start at $19.99 per person, per month, and discounts are available for teams of 5 or more. (You'll get access to the ENTIRE library, which is a huge bonus.)
  • Exercise Files: The Working with Upset Customers training video comes with a set of downloadable exercise files to help implement concepts from the course. You can access the files once you login.

Time Required: <1 hour per week for 4 weeks.

 

Pre-Work: Do This Before You Begin

You can boost the impact of any training program by properly preparing. Here are two simple assignments you should do before starting the training.

Assignment #1: Create a training plan. Use the Workshop Planning Tool to create a training plan:

  • Identify your goal for the training.
  • Determine what needs to be done to prepare for success.
  • Create a plan to sustain your progress.

Assignment #2: Announce the Training. Tell your team what to expect by announcing the training via a team meeting, one-on-one conversation, email, or some other form of communication. Make sure you address three things:

  • Tell participants what the training is about.
  • Explain why the training is important.
  • Share how you expect participants to use the training in their daily work.

 

Training Plan: Serving Upset Customers

This plan is divided into four lessons that each take place one week apart.

Week 1: Kick-off. Call a 30 minute team meeting to kick off the training program. Hold it in-person if possible, or via Skype or web-conference if your team is remote. 

  1. Review the purpose and goals for this course.
  2. Discuss situations where customers get angry.
  3. Assign training videos and activities for the next meeting.

Participant assignments for next week:

  • Watch video: Tending to Emotional Needs (4m 58s).
  • Watch video: Understanding Our Natural Instincts (4m 21s).
  • Exercise: Download the Fight or Flight Symptoms Checklist exercise file (you'll need to be logged in to access this). Use it to identify one situation where you experience the Fight or Flight instinct while serving a customer.

 

Week 2: Recognizing Our Instincts. Call a 30 minute team meeting to check-in on the training program. Hold it in-person if possible, or via Skype or web-conference if your team is remote.

  1. Discuss the importance of tending to customers' emotional needs.
  2. Discuss situations where we experienced the Fight or Flight Instinct.
  3. Assign training videos and activities for the next meeting.

Participant assignments for next week:

  • Watch video: Listening With Empathy (4 m 25s).
  • Complete the Empathy Worksheet from the Exercise Files.
  • Apply the LAURA technique (from the video) when serving an angry customer.

 

Week 3: Empathizing With Customers. Call a 30 minute team meeting to check-in on the training program. Hold it in-person if possible, or via Skype or web-conference if your team is remote.

  1. Discuss situations where participants used the LAURA technique to express empathy.
  2. Revisit list of situations where customers get angry (from Week 1). Discuss the root cause of each one.
  3. Assign training videos and activities for the next meeting.

Participant assignments for next week:

 

Week 4: Conclusion. Call a 30 minute team meeting to check-in on the training program. Hold it in-person if possible, or via Skype or web-conference if your team is remote.

  1. Discuss situations where participants helped a customer become right. 
  2. Discuss situations where participants used the acknowledge and refocus technique.
  3. Discuss appropriate actions if a customer becomes abusive.
  4. Discuss ways to sustain the learning.