Product Knowledge: the Key to Customer Service Training

One bad experience is enough to make a customer take their business elsewhere – for good. Yet far too many businesses fail to provide adequate training to frontline employees who deal with customers every day.

Customer service training is much more than being friendly and putting on a smile. It’s learning to understand the customer’s needs and provide them with the perfect solution. Fumbling over words or guessing at product features can quickly turn a potential sale sour.

Product Knowledge Leads the Way

Throwing new employees into the fray without adequate product knowledge is a mistake. Your customers are looking to this employee to be their expert. Therefore, your staff should know the products and services inside and out before ever speaking to a customer.

Pricing, specifications, warranties, longevity, compatibility, these are just a few of the questions customers will be asking your employees about. Without substantial customer service training, it’s unlikely your agent will have all the answers.

Not knowing the answer to a question immediately puts a dent in the customer’s confidence. Even if the employee finds the answer, the chance to make that much needed, strong, first impression has passed.

Building Trust with Customers

Customers need reassurance that their purchasing dollars will give them what they are looking for. Investing the time to fully arm your staff with product knowledge will set you aside from the competition.

There’s a sense of reassurance when every question is answered calmly and with ease. It builds consumer trust, which leads to long-term relationships and repeat business. Therefore, your goal with customer service training is not just about learning the ropes, but making each employee and expert and a brand ambassador.

Training to Listen as Well as to Speak

Knowledge alone is not enough for complete customer service training.

Listening is an integral part of the job. The agent must listen carefully to the customer’s request to be able to offer the right solution. Sometimes customer service reps assume the customer is looking for product A, simply because most customers need product A. However, with some effective listening, they might discover that product D, though not as popular, is better suited due to different features.

Effective questions can narrow down the choices, as well. Customers may not use the technical language about a product, so it’s important that staff know the types of questions to ask, such as “what will you be using it for?” or “what is your current system?”

Questioning should be gentle and never, ever condescending.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

Learning to drive takes practice. Learning a sport takes practice. Learning music takes practice. Customer service training should be no different. Practice is your best weapon against costly mistakes.

Train, quiz, repeat. It might sound simplified, but it’s the best way to ensure your new employees can handle whatever gets thrown their way.

And what about existing employees?

If new products or services come along, all employees should receive a round of customer service training heavily laced with product knowledge. Not only does it make operations more efficient, but also ensures a successful product launch and higher sales. In the end, that’s what every business is aiming for.