Customer Service Training: How Teams Assess their Efforts

At Lessonly, we’ve helped hundreds of teams across the globe learn, practice, and Do Better Work. Over and over again, we found that the best teams examine their training efforts through six key phases: Assess, Plan, Build, Learn, Practice, and Perform.

So, how do high-performing customer service teams listen to their people, identify successes and challenges, and accurately assess their team’s training needs? Lessonly’s CEO, Max Yoder, and Josh Streets, Senior Leader of Contact Center Operations at U.S. Cellular joined Execs in the Know to share insights about what separates the best customer experience teams from the rest of pack. Check out the transcript below for the first segment of this six-part series.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Max: To get started, I think it’s really helpful to align everybody on how Lessonly and U.S. Cellular think about doing Better Work.

When we say Better Work, we’re really saying we want to create great teams. We also think there are really three ingredients to those great teams:

  • Psychological safety: When people feel safe at work, they share their ideas more freely. They don’t censor themselves as much when they feel like have something to contribute.  
  • Purpose: People want to understand why what they’re doing matters, how it impacts the greater good, and how their role in the company affects that impact.
  • Structure and clarity: This is really about how companies structure their organizations and if they’re clear on the other factors.

When we think about how to make clarity happen in a business, we think about continuous training. Here at Lessonly, we’ve found that highest performing teams build their training on the same six pillars of what we call the Better Work Method.

As I mentioned, organizations are in constant change and that constant rate of change creates constant iteration. And if we’re not communicating the changes that come with that iteration, people are not going to have clarity for very long.

So, the Better Work Method is continuous. It starts at the Assess level and works all the way around to the performance level. We’ll be breaking down what all of these steps mean during this discussion.

The back-end of training includes the assess, plan, and build steps of the Better Work Method. This is where the managers of training, leaders, trainers, subject-matter experts are really hands-on during these three steps. Then, it transitions to learning, practicing, and performing where the teams and individuals get the clarity that they need.

So, Josh, I’m going to kick us off now and walk through what we mean by assess and I’d love to hear how U.S. Cellular is getting the lay of the land. When we think about assess, we think about gathering inputs and needs. So when you’re assessing an organization, what you’re trying to do is figure out, “What are our biggest opportunities, and what are our biggest threats?”  If we train around those opportunities or we train around those threats, would we be able to get to those opportunities faster, and would we be able to minimize those potential threats more readily? Training is an excellent way to get people to good work more quickly.

Throughout the assessment process, you can ask managers and contributors to identify areas where behaviors need to improve or change. That could be one thing that comes up as an important focus point, but there could also be 10 of them. In order to really sort through them, you need to seek to understand how any of these behaviors affect the business and the person in the role. That will really help you understand which ones to prioritize.

For example, if you see a big business impact to cross-selling and that’s your biggest impact to the business, that’s probably the one that you should seek to address and plan around. And when you think about, “What is the impact of the person in the role?” That’s important to do in the assessment stage because when you think about the impact of the person in the role, you’re leading with empathy. You’re saying, “If we didn’t train this person to the behaviors that we need them, how would it affect them in a negative way? And if we were to do the training well, how would it affect them in a positive way?”

And then lastly, in the assessment stage, find out what your team is already doing well. Maybe certain folks are still achieving success when they cross-sell but maybe there’s not enough of them. It’s really good to find out who is doing what you need to train on well in advance. This gives leaders the opportunity to “study” them and see what the behaviors are that led to them doing this certain activity or skill well. Then, leaders will have a sense for training that needs to be created in order to bring everyone to the same page. Josh, I’d love to hear from you how you think about assess and this part of the Better Work Method.

Josh: This is something that’s on my mind almost every minute of every single workday, as well as several other leaders. And while we’re in one of—if not the fastest—moving industries in wireless, we’ve had some antiquated processes that we self-recognize. I’m guessing all businesses have at least one outdated process.

Prior to Lessonly, we were actually using packets of information that we would regularly cascade out to the channels for learning or change by our leaders. We’re a learning-centric organization and we’re very aware that our leaders need to own this first so their teams can deliver on it, but by sending packets of PDF information out on a regular basis, along with regular communications, that process came with some time challenges.

It also comes with a potential for what I would call “substandard engagement,” and it’s really hard to measure the absorption of the information. So with all the other data that we get from business intelligence, and CX, and contact analytics, it really was the right time for us to see if there was a way to take it full circle. They say without data we all just have opinions on how to fix the problem and that couldn’t have been truer in our environment. Now that we’re up and running, Lessonly is a key piece to the whole ecosystem that we’ve built here.

Max: Josh, how do you go and assess on the frontlines? What kind of feedback loops do you have from your contributors that you really cherish when it comes to getting the frontline voice?

Josh: We have several methods that are out there from frontline that go all the way to the executive office, and we’re a very transparent, open environment. It’s in our values. It’s in our behaviors. It’s the way this organization was built. A lot of that trust that you talked about in some of those opening slides line up very well.

I could sit here and list all of the avenues but we have feet on the streets in our contact centers that get information to our centralized teams that put together training, communication, etc. Then, there are more formal tools that we’re also using to assess things ongoing.

Max: Yeah, I think that’s just beautiful. There’s a phrase that says, “The best thing a captain can do is see the ship through the eyes of the crew.” But a lot of times, we forget to seek the clarity from the individuals who are really feeling the most pain and who are the producers of the business. Assessment is just a great reminder to get down there and see the ship through the eyes of the crew because people know what they need. They can generally feel what they need and assess is a great way to making sure that you’re getting that pulse.

Start assessing your team’s training program

Thoughtfully assessing learning efforts helps companies like U.S. Cellular make educated decisions about team training. Check back next week to read part two of the series, Plan.

Want an objective evaluation of your team training program? Take our free Better Work Assessment. Or, get a demo of Lessonly and see how we can help you gather team feedback, review essential data, and identify gaps in training—so your team can Do Better Work.

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