Posts Tagged ‘Training’


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Get the Most From a Temporary Employee

??????????????????????????????????Are you using (or considering) temporary employees in your small business? Last year we told you why hiring temps can be a smart way to staff up without the hassles of hiring permanent employees. These tips will help you get the most out of your temporary employee relationships.

Welcome temporary employees on board. Too many temporary employees are met with blank stares when they arrive at a new job, then essentially ignored for the duration of their employment. Just as with any new employee, your temporary workers should receive a warm welcome to your business. (This is especially important if you think you may eventually want to hire the temp full-time.) It’s a good idea to match the temp with an employee on staff who can show him or her the ropes of company culture. Talk to your full-time employees about the importance of making sure they help the temp fit in.

Provide adequate orientation and training. Sure, a temp will come to you with knowledge of a skill, such as how to use Excel spreadsheets, code websites or operate a certain type of machinery. But that doesn’t mean he or she knows how the particular job he or she is doing at your company works. No matter how impatient you are for the temp to get to work immediately, spend some time orienting temps as to where their job fits in within the company, what the goals of the job are, and how to perform the specific duties of the job. It will be time well spent.

Take care of the proper paperwork. Just because a temporary agency is handling the temp’s payroll doesn’t mean you’re off the hook legally. Temporary employees can still file claims against your company if they feel discriminated against, harassed or if you are breaking wage and hour laws. Make sure each temporary employee reviews your employee handbook and signs a document that he or she has read and understood it. Also review your contract with the temporary agency carefully so you know what forms you need to have the temp complete, what records you’re required to keep about the person’s employment, and how long you need to maintain them after he or she leaves. By dotting all the i’s and crossing your t’s, you’ll protect yourself and your business. 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: 5 Steps to Get Your Customer Service in Shape for the Holidays

Black Friday is only a little more than a month away (in fact, this year there will be two Black Fridays as Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same day—a rarity that won’t happen for another 70,000 years). With competition for shoppers’ dollars stiffer than ever, is your small business prepared to offer the kind of customer service needed to stand out in the crowd? Here are some steps you should take now to get your business’s customer service in shape for the holidays.

  1. Staff up. I posted last week about hiring tips for the holidays; if you haven’t already got your team in place, get going!
  2. Educate. “Showrooming”—customers coming into your store to touch and try merchandise, then using smartphones to look for lower prices online—is a game-changer for retailers (and not in a good way). Combat the practice by making sure your retail associates are educated about the products you sell so they can answer all your customers’ questions and basically be more helpful than the Internet.
  3. Equip. Make sure your team has the tools they need for smooth selling this holiday season. That means a well-stocked inventory, up-to-date point-of-sale systems and mobile technology like iPads and smartphones. Mobile tools can shorten wait times if you use software like Square so customers can pay from anywhere in the store (instead of waiting on line). They can also help fight showrooming by allowing clerks to look up product information or check inventory levels. 
  4. Test. If you sell online, make sure your customer service team is ready for the holiday overload. Start by testing your website to ensure it can handle heavy traffic and that browsing, shopping and checking out are clear and intuitive. Provide a variety of ways that users can contact your customer service team, from email and phone to live chat. Speed things along by making sure your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), shipping, returns and other information is current and clear. If customers can answer their own questions, they won’t need your customer service team.
  5. Motivate. Customer service can be a grueling task during the holiday rush, so plan how you will reward and motivate your team. Setting attainable goals, holding regular meetings to bring up problems or concerns, and encouraging employees with rewards and prizes are great ways to keep your customer service reps powering through the toughest times.

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Effective Ways to Train Customer Service Employees

The best customer service employees are highly trained, strongly motivated, and on the receiving end of constant encouragement and positive reinforcement from management.

Here, Barbara Khozam, customer service training facilitator and author of How Organizations Deliver BAD Customer Service (and Strategies that Turn it Around!), offers a few of her favorite ways to educate incoming customer service reps.

Site real-world examples

Before launching a training session, Khozam assumes the role of “mystery shopper” for the company she is training. She will call the customer service line to ask questions or walk, in-person, into the company she is helping to see how staffers respond. She will then reference her experiences and use them as a teaching tool for new customer service employees.

“I will site specific examples of customer service successes or failures from their own facility; it usually gets their attention very quickly,” she says. “From there, we will discuss better methods and why certain actions were helpful or unhelpful.”

Small business owners can do this by asking a friend to be the company’s incognito shopper and then reporting back.

Make training interactive

Talk at your employees, i.e. via PowerPoint presentations and the like, and your training will go in one ear and out the other, says Khozam. Instead, involve participants by asking them questions and even encouraging them to break off into groups to solve simulated customer service situations.

“Section employees into groups of three and have them watch a YouTube video of a terrible customer service scenario,” she recommends. “Then, ask them to act out how the service on the video could be improved.” 

Get detailed

Don’t assume that just because you hired a nice person they will be the world’s best customer service employees. Spell out each of your expectations in detail.

“Tell them that you want phones answered on the first ring if that is important to you,” advises Khozam. “The more detailed you can get, the better.”

Talk big picture

Discuss why superior customer service is so important to your company as a whole during training.

“Talk about the fact that when you have customers, the company makes more money,” she says. “Employees will be more motivated if they can see beyond just day-to-day tasks.”

Don’t ever stop training (and motivating) your employees

“My most successful clients have daily huddles,” Khozam says. “At the beginning of every shift, they reiterate important points of good customer service and make sure their employees are engaged and feel motivated and valued.

“If business owners dedicate time to do that every day, their companies will do well.”  

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