The Challenge

In the highly competitive 3D CAD software sector, it’s not enough to have a superior product; companies have to back that software excellence with a technical support team that has both a depth of product knowledge and the people skills to help frustrated customers who need technical support.

This firm invests a great deal of time and money in making sure its tech support team has the technical knowledge to answer even the most obscure client question. However, until the company contracted with TrainSmart for a two-part customer service training in Minneapolis, none of the members of the tech support team had ever participated in a workshop to help them master the people skills needed to succeed at their jobs.

The client wanted to provide the customer service support team with basic customer service skills training to improve their phone conversations and email etiquette.

In a pre-training meeting, the client shared that 80% of their support is provided on the phone.  As part of his responsibility as a manager, the client regularly listens to the calls and said the team members needed to acquire skills on how to respond to unhappy customers. He observed that the majority of the team members didn’t know how to respond to customers who are stressed and somewhat agitated.

“They struggle. One team member immediately elevates unhappy customers to a more senior team member simply because they can’t deal with conflict. Another team member begins to stammer, and several others lose their tempers with clients.”

In all, our client estimated that up to a third of the calls were problematic.

Emails present a different kind of challenge. The company does not have a template for these responses, and there is a great variation in how team members respond: Some emails are quite short while others over-communicate. The other major issue with their email support is understanding when it is best to stop writing and pick up the phone.

“The team members seem to get stuck when an issue comes in via email: they don’t know when they should abandon email and pick up the phone. They need to understand when it’s best to call the client.”

TrainSmart’s Customer Service Workshop, like many of the other workshops in our SMART Series, is designed as both a full-day and half-day workshop. This client needed additional adaptation.

Because of scheduling issues, the client needed to create two mirror sessions for the workshop.  Additional time restrictions also meant instead of doing one half-day session, the seminar. After observing the first workshop, the client opted to scrap some of the planned topics to take a deeper dive into a few of the topics discussed on the first day.

TrainSmart was able to flex the schedule. That flexibility would have been hard to achieve without the one-week break between sessions.

There was another benefit of spacing the sessions a week apart – the participants were able to practice some of the techniques that were discussed in the first session.  Interestingly, the workshop participants all had different things that they wanted to focus on. Some of the participants said they were more aware of how they sounded and focused on being more energetic and friendly. Another participant said they spent the week reminding themselves to smile while another participant took the challenge to create a standard welcoming message for all calls. (One of our recommendations was that this organization create a standard greeting for all calls)

 The Workshop Revealed More Than the Client Expected

At a minimum, the company was hoping the workshop would provide its tech support team with tools to do a better job helping meet their customers’ needs. As it turns out, the workshop provided the manager with a great deal more information than he could have anticipated. He learned:

  • Some members of the tech support team don’t like talking to people.
  • Resistance to implementing some of the workshop recommendations is based on a deeply held belief that “feelings don’t apply to our industry.”
  • More than obtaining new technical skills, many team members need a new mindset to improve their customer service skills.

Based on the results of the workshop, the company is committed to implementing a long-term program to reinforce the learning introduced in the workshop. Also, the team agreed to create a standard greeting and close to all their calls – something that currently does not exist.