3 Things Employee Onboarding Can Learn from Good Customer Service -- Allen Communication

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No one would deny that customer service is one of a business’s greatest assets. Satisfied customers who have had a great experience are more likely to come back for more service. They’re also more likely to spread positive word of mouth to others.

One of our recent blog posts talks about how today’s prospective employees approach job options the same way that customers approach product options. Job hunts have become more about finding the right fit than about finding the best “deal” on salary and benefits in exchange for work given. Most candidates expect their work to be meaningful and thereby enjoyable. Like customers, they want a good overall experience.

Unfortunately, no matter how good a company’s customer service normally is, if a customer has a bad experience during the first impression, they will walk away dissatisfied. The same holds true for new employees: a bad onboarding experience leads to a bad first impression and potential dissatisfaction with the new company. It’s becoming increasingly important for companies to start treating employee onboarding more like customer service.

What operations/procedure training can learn from customer support and product updates

Operations/procedure training teaches employees how to do things. There’s usually a fair amount of it in onboarding so that new hires can get up to speed. It’s obviously crucial that new hires learn how to do their new jobs; however, this kind of training can often be confusing, repetitive, overwhelming, tedious, or all of the above.

Compare this to customer support. Customer support is almost like just-in-time training. A customer contacts customer support when they have problems. The customer isn’t required to touch base with the company; they can explore on their own and potentially figure things out without ever tapping into customer support. When product updates roll around, there are online help pages and informal message boards that can be accessed alongside the formal customer support system.

In many situations, operations/procedure training would benefit from just-in-time resources, similar to a customer support system. After being taught the basics, new employees can be set loose with a library of resources like videos and microlearning. The employees can then explore the operations and procedures on their own. If they immediately understand and remember the operations and procedures, the employees won’t have to be subject to overwhelming and tedious training. If not, they can continue to access the library of resources for more help. And, as with product updates, these resources can include help pages and online message boards for employees to talk about best practices with their colleagues.

What workplace culture training can learn from product branding and marketing

Culture training is a big part of onboarding—and understandably so! A company’s culture is key to effective operations, and whether employees work well within that culture has a huge impact on the end product offered. However, because it’s difficult to train people to be something rather than to do something, culture training currently isn’t a well-defined process.

By contrast, product branding and marketing is highly structured. The colors, logos, fonts, shapes, and materials used to create products, product packaging, and marketing materials are all determined by company brand. This presents a unified front for the brand and gets the customers immersed in the brand culture. Eventually, customers can even begin to have emotional responses to brand elements.

As product branding and marketing involve steeping customers in the brand, culture training should involve immersing new hires in the culture. Everything the new hire does during onboarding, from meeting their supervisor to signing paperwork to getting a tour, needs to reflect the culture of the company. As with branding and marketing, this consistency over time helps the employee become attached to the culture.

What compliance and policy training can learn from customer support problem solving

Compliance and policy training helps new hires understand the rules and expectations that will keep them (and their company) out of various types of legal trouble. As formal compliance and policy training is mandatory and narrowly applicable, most employees don’t like it and rush through it.

The kind of problem solving used by customer support agents is broad and can apply to a multitude of problems. Customer support agents walk customers through problems, helping customers use critical thinking skills to solve problems together.

In compliance and policy training, instead of forcing new hires to learn how to solve a multitude of vastly different problems with narrowly applicable skills, walk them through how to use critical thinking skills to solve compliance or policy problems. For example, if most compliance problems would lead to the new hire contacting their manager, teach them how to think critically about what situations require the manager’s help and which don’t.


In conclusion

Remember, customer service is all about the experience. Experience is a large part of brand, and brand matters to customers and employees alike. When good onboarding mimics good customer service, the first impressions of a company’s brand will be positive for not only traditional customers but for the new customers in the workplace: new hires.


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