Why training your service staff isn't improving customer experience
Even the best training in the world won’t work if the following issues are not resolved and removed in your organisation.
Ah, the ever-present argument about the proper training of your employees…well, you’ll get no argument from me. Training is the key to a well-motivated, knowledgeable and efficient staff. But is THAT all what’s needed, just training?
Here are some benefits of training:
- Training bolsters employee confidence which is then noticed by the customers = perceived better service = more $$$.
- Training can identify areas where revenue is “left on the table” and not captured.
- A well trained staff allows management to focus on other aspects of the business and not micromanage the staff.
Throughout my years in the hospitality industry I’ve sat through more “service culture” and customer service training sessions than I care to remember.
We discussed how to create a memorable experience for the customer (guest), how to empathise, how to diffuse an irate customer and when to offer compensation for poor service. We spoke about the customer’s expectations and how to match and exceed them. Another well-worn topic is employee morale and how important it is and its direct correlation to the service provided. All worthwhile topics.
But, we rarely spoke about the “elephant” in the room… All the training in the world won’t work if the underlying issues are not resolved and removed.
I once had a boss tell me, “you need to do more training, then they’ll get better. We’ll just fire those that don’t improve, it’s simple!” Great attitude boss…wonder why service is poor!
Here’s the key statement, to paraphrase my colleague Shaun Belding: “Training cannot change behaviour. It can transfer knowledge and introduce skills but must be supported by other factors”.
How many training managers or members of Human Resources Departments around the globe understand this? I dare to say, only a few.
Their focus is on a laundry list of training dates embedded on a monthly calendar, which does more to justify the training manager’s position than changing the behavior of the employees.
Here’s the top reason your training doesn’t work; you’re not fixing the root cause of the problem!
Let’s delve into specifics…
1. Your service / customer satisfaction scores are poor
Why are they poor? Is it because you don’t schedule enough employees to handle the lunchtime rush or the cashier stations during a busy holiday week?
Training won’t help that, only scheduling more “trained employees” will.
2. You don’t get enough repeat business from existing customers
Are your customers made to feel appreciated when they come into your business or are they treated as a burden? It’s extremely difficult to train someone to be polite and put others first (your customers). There needs to be an inherent positive personality trait(s) as a basis for great service.
A sour attitude will always show through. Training can’t fix bad attitudes, only a termination can.
3. You don’t walk-the-walk
You recently held a series of, and what you believed were, great training classes. They were interactive, well attended and informative. But you haven’t seen an improvement in the employee’s actions and they “refuse” to put into effect what was trained. Why is this happening?
Well, did your senior management take part in the classes, sitting alongside the hourly employees? Oh, the training was just for non-management. I see…
If your hourly employees “don’t see” management taking the same classes they may believe that management doesn’t take training as seriously as THEY are expected to. So why should they bother? What’s left is wasted effort on everyone’s part.
4. No tools to do the job
Great training can fix many ills but without the tools, equipment and supplies, etc. don’t expect much. Your employees will throw their hands up in exasperation when little changes after the latest rah rah training session.
Couldn’t you have seen this coming? What did you do differently to properly support your employees this time? Oh, you just did a training, well, that’s not enough!
5. Bad trainers
Just because someone has years of experience doing a specific job doesn’t mean he/she is a good trainer and can pass along the needed information in an easy-to-understand and relate-able manner.
Bad trainers are as easy to find as bad employees.
6. Production is still down
Do you schedule your best workers on the “most important” or busiest days? If not, you should expect poor service and lackluster performance.
“But Steve”, you may say, “we have to follow seniority when we make the schedule, and some of my worst performers have the most seniority!”
Well, you have a problem my friend. Maybe you should stop the training for a while and focus more on replacing your poor performers.
6.5. You have the wrong employees
The old adage: “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” is true in more ways than you think.
Some employees, just like some friends or family, refuse to change. They rebel against any form of change. It goes against their very core.
You may not feel the same; you may not understand how this can be but you must.
There needs to be a systematic and company-wide effort for any real change and improvements to happen because of training. What are the employee incentives to put this training into effect?
Will it be:
- Improved working conditions for the employees?
- More money or commission for the employees?
- Morale boosters that actually work?
- An opportunity for advancement?
If not, your training may not produce the outcome you expect. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
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A 20+ year hospitality veteran, customer service trainer, coach, author & speaker and known as the "go-to guy", Steve is the author of “Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift…Even If You’re a Bad Waiter” and a featured contributor...