Businesses who tend to employ younger employees are doing themselves, their customers, and their employees a disservice if they fail to provide training on basic customer service skills.
Here are three reasons why:
Young employees lack experience
Much of our customer service know-how comes from the experience of seeing what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, young employees are gaining less and less experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that only 48.9% of of Americans ages 16 - 24 had a summer job in 2010. That figure is closer to 30% in my home town of San Diego according to Mark Cafferty, the CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership.
All of this means that young employees will be gaining their customer service experience courtesy of your company. If you don't provide them with training they'll likely learn most of their skills from trial and error. I don't think your customers would appreciate the error part.
Young employees find it harder to empathize
A core customer service skill is the ability to empathize with a customer. This allows employees to see things through their customers' eyes and prevent or resolve problems quickly. Empathy comes from having a similar or relatable experience, but younger employees simply lack many of the life experiences that could allow them to empathize.
Employees can be taught to empathize through training and coaching. Ironically, one of the qualities younger employees need from their supervisor or customer service trainer is the ability to empathize with being young and inexperienced.
Great customer service isn't obvious
Businesses often fail to provide customer service training to their frontline employees because great customer service seems obvious to business owners, managers, and supervisors. Unfortunately, the steps to providing great customer service may not be obvious to your employees. (Check on my previous post on the subject.)
Younger employees who lack on the job and life experience may have the most difficult time figuring out the right thing to do. Leaders should set clear expectations for customer service and then provide all employees with the required training, tools, and resources to meet those expectations. They should also be especially patient with younger employees who are learning on the job.