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3 Customer Service Training Exercises to Prepare You for Anything

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Get ahead of the busiest time of year with these support training tips.

It’s coming.

The holiday rush is only a few weeks away, and whether you’re an eCommerce retailer selling gifts or a B2B SaaS company dealing with customers about to go on vacation, things are likely to get busy.

The more prepared you are, the easier the toughest customer service period of the year will be for you.

Today, I’m sharing three of my favorite support training exercises that will help you deliver excellent customer service, today, tomorrow and for years to come.

1) Do the Stranger Challenge

One of the hardest things about doing support is customers being angry or upset with you.

And while the specific techniques for dealing with those situations are easy to learn and use (if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend the HEARD technique used by Disney), the more challenging part of that is simply the fact that’s a highly uncomfortable situation.

Most people aren’t very good at being uncomfortable.

It’s hard to be at our best when we’re not comfortable, but those uncomfortable situations, for support pros, are where we need to be at our best.

So what do we do?

We work on getting comfortable with discomfort.

AppSumo runs a challenge on their site that they call the Stranger Challenge. It involves getting over your fear of failure and discomfort by asking a complete stranger to take a photo with you.

Yes, it seems a bit weird and uncomfortable.

And that’s exactly the point.

Completing the challenge will help you get better at being comfortable with discomfort.

The exercise: Do the Stranger Challenge

Head over to AppSumo’s Stranger Challenge and sign up. Then, print out one of their signs and ask a stranger to take a photo with you.

Skills Developed: Empathy, Positivity, Patience, Continuous Improvement

2) Host an all-hands Show-and-Tell

You have interests and hobbies outside of work, right?

So do the people you work with.

There’s a good chance that whatever your particular hobby is, you know a lot more about it than the people around you. They might even find it confusing or intimidating.

One of the most critical parts of being able to communicate clearly in support is the ability to distill complicated topics into simple, easy-to-understand terms.

Hosting a weekly show-and-tell at your office (or, if you’re a remote team like us, over Skype or a Google Hangout), is a great way for your team to get better at conveying complex ideas—whether they’re about crossword puzzles, travel hacking, knitting, Dungeons & Dragons or whatever else they enjoy doing—to those who might not be familiar with them.

It’s also fantastic for getting to know your co-workers better, and building stronger relationships throughout your entire team.

The exercise: Hold a weekly show-and-tell session.

Each week, a member of the team is assigned to share a 5-10 minute presentation sharing an interest or hobby with the rest of the team.

Skills Developed: Clarity in Communication, Empathy (for those listening)

3) Take 10

If you’ve never tried mindfulness meditation before, it’s important to establish a couple of things:

Firstly, mindfulness meditation has nothing to do with religion or spirituality (unless you want it to). Absolutely nothing. This is probably the one misconception that I had that kept me from trying it for a long time, but I promise: nothing.

Secondly, the benefits are massive, and they’re backed by science. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to do everything from lower stress to making you a more compassionate and empathetic person (both benefits that anyone doing support could get a lot from).

Mindfulness meditation is a great way to get better at reacting to stress and not being overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending flow of support emails.

Personally, I love Headspace, a simple app that teaches you meditation in 10 minutes a day, and I think it’s a great place to start for just about anyone.

The exercise: Take 10

Sign up for a free Headspace account, and complete the Take 10 program: 10 days of guided meditation, in only 10 minutes each day.

Skills Developed: Empathy, Positivity, Patience

Pump Up Your Customer Service Skills

Like any skills, support skills take deliberate training to improve.

Commit to doing these simple exercises with your team, and you’ll start seeing the results in your customer interactions (and satisfaction scores!) every single day.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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