How Big Brands Focus on Retail Customer Service Training

We interact with the world’s biggest brands every single day. From the clothes we wear to the phones we use, there is no avoiding these large and powerful organizations.

We’ve all heard—or even experienced first-hand—stories of superior customer service that set some large, high-performing brands apart from the rest. In order to stand out in a crowded marketplace through exceptional service, these companies are making large investments in their employees with robust retail customer service training programs. According to Training Magazine’s 2017 Industry Report, U.S. companies spent $90.6 billion in training alone. Clearly, training is fundamental to any successful organization.

As we read through numerous articles and industry reports, we saw three recurring themes in customer service training programs at large companies that make them stand out:

Customer-centric learning

“We do not have a thick manual telling our employees what they can and cannot do. To accomplish that goal, we ask them to follow one rule: Use good judgement in all situations. We hope this philosophy not only empowers employees to provide the highest level of service to our customers but also inspires them and helps them build a great workplace.”—Tara Darrow, PR Director, Nordstrom

Far too often, new employees are handed a large manual crammed with lengthy rules and procedures. Nordstrom however, keeps things simple and reminds employees of the number one goal: provide outstanding customer service. Training that focuses on the customer’s point of view empowers employees to innovate and create solutions that are tailored to each customer.

Instead of static processes that may not solve a problem, employees should be trained with the knowledge and skills to answer questions, solve problems, and delight the customer. Nordstrom has been long recognized for its superior service over its 117 years of business—clearly this type of training works

“Everyone that is hired into our headquarters goes through the same training that our Customer Loyalty Team (call center) reps go through, regardless of department or title. Again, this goes back to our belief that customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company.”—Tony Hsiesh, Founder, Zappos

Zappos is famous for its customer service training and core value to “deliver WOW through service.” Every employee takes part in the customer service training program—a profound signal about the company’s intentional focus on their customers. While some companies discuss customer personas with their employees, consider providing training that also focuses on empathy, connection, empowerment, and problem-solving. These skills equip employees with the tools they’ll need to provide exceptional service to customers.

Reinforcement through practice

“Every new employee at Warby Parker is required to play the role of a customer, experiencing both the Home Try-On Program that the brand offers as well as initiating a web order. Employees are encouraged to share their experience with the team, and their feedback is used to make continuous improvements to products and processes.”—Mara Castro, Director of Customer Experience, Warby Parker

Practice, especially for customer-facing teams, is underutilized during the training process. Learning how to serve customers is important, but it should be paired with practice that reinforces the skills learned. While some organizations have new employees run through practice scenarios and interactions with ‘customers’, Warby Parker takes this process one step farther by having employees play the role of the customer. Employees see the value of great service from the customer’s point of view, refine their own methods, and provide feedback that promotes improvements for the entire team.

The key to training top bankers is reinforcing their skills and letting them know we care by not only highlighting the things they do RIGHT, but providing constructive criticism when they fall short on delivering excellent client service.”— Training Team, Quicken Loans

The team at Quicken Loans has found that practice provides the opportunity to refine skills that customer service reps struggle with. It’s easy to focus on what reps are doing correctly, but if they don’t receive feedback on opportunities to improve, they’ll eventually fail at providing outstanding service. Set employees up for success with coaching opportunities that help them continuously improve. Quicken Loans empowers team members to deliver exceptional service, time and time again, through more than 200 hours of ongoing training and coaching to reinforce great habits—and perfect skills that may be lacking.

Optimized for performance

“We need employees who are ready to work in a competitive and more digital world. We’re focused on aligning company leaders to strategic business innovation and results, skilling and reskilling our 280,000 employees, and inspiring a culture of continuous learning.”—Marty Richter, Corporate Communications Manager, AT&T

As technological companies continuously offer new products and services to remain competitive, they also have to train and retrain their customer service reps. AT&T recognizes the direct impact of training on its ever-evolving business goals and stresses constant learning in order to drive change at scale. By keeping organizational training on pace with changes in the market, companies rest assured that their customer service reps will be able to provide service that drives performance for years to come.

“Our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring long-term competitive advantage. We believe in hiring for attitude and training for skill. Southwest employees logged 175,447 hours in customer service and support training in 2016.”—One Report, Southwest Airlines

Training the thousands of employees at a large airline is no small feat. And, in an industry where many factors—from weather to lost baggage—impact a customer’s experience, Southwest has ensured that their agents are trained for any circumstance. They have also turned learning data into actionable insights about what training works, and what doesn’t. By measuring the bottom-line of the impact of learning, training is optimized for continued impact on teams and individuals alike. With this strategy, Southwest has experienced a continued increase in their overall CSAT score year after year—and remains one of the top providers in airfare.

Learn, practice, and perform with Lessonly

Lessonly is purpose-built to drive learning, practice, and performance for the world’s most successful brands. With Lessonly, high-performing support teams serve customers faster, drive consistent support, and elevate the customer experience. The world’s greatest companies do better work with Lessonly. Begin a self-guided, five-step tour today.

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