Customer Care


The objective of this training is to show participants that the main beneficiaries of good customer care are not the customers, but rather themselves. Obviously this involves some effort on their part but a compelling case is made for this investment.

Each programme is designed to allow for customization according to the make-up of the group and the type of customer care they are involved (internal or external).

However, the underpinning theoretical base is constant, with other relevant materials and activities introduced as necessary.

Duration: 2 Days
Participants: 6-18
(for more than 12 participants, 2 trainers are recommended)

This is essential to create an atmosphere conducive to constructive feedback. It usually takes the form of a personal presentation within a scenario format and allows the trainer to gauge the commitment, the language level and the communication abilities of the participants.

In order to deliver valuable, relevant content it is necessary to know something about the internal and external service-provider roles of the participants. In the form of a round-robin, participants explain how the service encounter works for them. In most situations it is determined that a dual role is present, with each person being both a ‘customer’ for other people’s services and a provider of services to others.

Based on Kotler’s theory of effective communication, participants come to appreciate the need to look at how messages might be received and understood before they transmit them, whether by telephone, e-mail or face-to-face. The process is called ‘encoding’ and the approach forms a fundamental thread in the establishment of a valid dialogue.

Building on the key message of the course, this segment looks at ways of being proactive (some might say ‘pre-active’) in approaching customer relations, in particular planning for known situations and having solutions at hand. Whilst the names and the part-numbers might change, the actual range of problems is often limited. Participants are encouraged to take control of their processes rather than be driven by events and particularly e-mails.

Using the metaphor of preparing for a journey, participants come to understand the need for detailed preparation and the establishment of milestones to measure the progress of interaction. It is not enough to have an objective, the start-point also needs to be acknowledged and a strategic as well as tactical approach researched and developed.

By reconstructing customer care service mottos from major organizations, the participants are encouraged to identify their own personal definitions and objectives.

This is a fundamental approach to effective communication which has particular relevance in customer care. Whilst the message needs to remain constant, the means of delivery in terms of media, language, jargon, tone, etc must be adjusted to meet the needs of the receiver. By following this simple principle, much misunderstanding, and therefore unnecessary work and upset, can be eliminated. A specific example is demonstrated and then company-relevant examples are elicited from the group.

In order to promote self-reflection and assist in building customer relationships, the Johari Window theory is introduced and applied. Participants come to understand how they can manage the Arena of their performance, how to reduce their Blind Side, and what is safe to share with others. In course evaluations, this tool often features as one of the most useful techniques learned.

This is a fun exercise, firstly for individuals and then for pairs, which graphically demonstrates how difficult it is to transmit accurate information verbally. Just by folding and tearing paper, participants come to realize that the telephone in particular is not always the best communications instrument. Based on this, the discussion then moves to finding more effective ways to give and receive information in the work context.

By demonstrating a typical poor incoming telephone scenario, the trainer facilitates a discussion based on actually reducing work-levels through ‘owning’ the case. Participants usually confirm that they have been subjected to such treatment themselves in the past and therefore start to see the transaction from the other side. By re-working this service encounter, various further benefits are demonstrated, not least the creation of a better working atmosphere.

Expanding the learning point made in the previous segment, participants are introduced to the concept of the ‘non-product’ needs of customers and the advantages of engaging with these for both sides of the service encounter. Based on extensive research in the service sector, it is shown that simply delivering information or providing the required product is not enough to ensure customer satisfaction. The needs for Recognition, Security, Belonging, Contact, Curiosity and Reward also need to be considered and delivered. The pro-activity of engaging this process will also improve the work atmosphere for the service provider.

Working in small groups, participants create and act out scenarios demonstrating both the omission and application of a pair of the Six Human Needs.

In most groups, there are some participants that are familiar with this acronym. In this case, the concepts are elicited and then company-relevant applications are found. Should this theory not have been previously encountered, it is first explained and then applied.

The content of this segment is significantly driven by the needs of the group and the customer care needs of the organization. In the event that the business is international, either in terms of supply or demand side, then ethnic and national issues are discussed. Should the business be primarily domestic then interdisciplinary cultures are examined, along with gender, age and status issues.

This is an optional module, but one that usually finds its way into courses for those who need to communicate in English with both native and non-native speakers. Common misunderstandings are discussed and the differences in approach to the use of the language syntax, even between native speakers from different continents. The specific characteristic of English as a stress-based language is demonstrated and discussed.

In the case of a complaint or conflict, what many customers are looking for is just to be ‘listened to’. The techniques of active listening are demonstrated through pair-work role-plays and the conclusions drawn. The discussion then moves to the need for empathy and how to engage with emotions before attempting to solve the practical issues.

This segment is a 7-step approach to analyzing the underlying reasons why customers might appear ‘difficult’. Through the application of the 6 Human Needs and Active Listening techniques, key issues such as fear and low personal esteem can be dealt with, enabling the service provider to move on to determining mutually acceptable solutions. The re-framing of negative attitudes and switching techniques are also discussed and demonstrated along with the need to invoke third-party legitimacy to the argument. Finally, the need for team support is discussed.

Through further discussion and a short case-study, the key points from the course are re-visited and if any questions or doubts remain, these are addressed. Participants are encouraged to be Victors rather than Victims and even Superman is evoked as an example of superior customer care, in order to demonstrate that professionalism in this area is far from ‘servile’.

Participants are presented with a booklet which contains the key learning points from the course. They are encouraged to keep this as a diary to note successes in the application of the various techniques and where improvements might be needed.