CX Training Takes a Cross-Functional Team.
There’s a reason we use the term “it takes a village” when referring to educating children. Learning is an ongoing process that requires more than one point of input or opinion. We’d never send our 5-year old child to one class with one teacher and declare their education over. We know that lifelong learning is really what leads to success, and there are needs for specific study as well as general education throughout our lives. Successful organizations adopt this attitude when it comes to customer experience and the training required to really make it part of their DNA.
It’s not about the one perfect solution. It’s about a mix of training for key moments in the employee experience, role-specific educational goals and strategies, and ongoing learning to adapt to changing environments. It takes a village that sometimes disguises itself as a cross-functional team!
So if we know that to deliver great customer experiences, we need to understand and appreciate the bigger picture around CX training, then why don’t more leaders ensure this is part of their strategy?
In my decade-plus of working directly with organizations trying to step up their Customer Experience and train their teams accordingly, these are the most common challenges I see that prevent customer experience training from being successful — and how I advise to conquer each.
The Five Most Common CX Training Obstacles — And How to Solve Them:
1. Training is reduced to tools, processes, and procedures.
A proud executive once told me about how great their new CX training program was. I asked a few of the employees what they thought of it. The answers I got were all around the same thing – all they were doing was entering customer data into the customer relationship management (CRM) program.
“Training” had reduced the entire idea of customer experience into one thing – how to use a tool.
This is not customer experience. While training on using the tool might be a necessary part of the customer experience strategy, entering customer data is not customer experience.
Take a look at the training offered and the ways customer experience is defined. If your team is asked to take the “cx training” and it’s only focused on tools and how to use them, then it’s not really serving a true customer experience strategy.
Ensure the overall customer experience strategy is defined, communicated and connected to any training related to tools, processes or procedures.
2. Customer experience is only part of training when things go wrong.
I get these calls from semi-panicked leaders quite a bit. “We need you to come in and help us with customer experience training! Our most recent customer survey is a disaster and we need to fix it.”
A lot of organizations focus on gathering customer feedback and commit to consistently and reliably reporting out those results. These results are often moving in small, incremental ways, if at all.
So when there’s a dramatic drop in CX metrics, suddenly management takes notice.
Often the seemingly obvious place to start is with the customer-facing teams. Get them more training, and we should be good… right? Well, yes… for a while.
Don’t get me wrong – addressing the issues head-on with training will certainly help customer-facing employees have more strategies for successful interactions with customers.
But it’s simply too little, usually too late.
Customer experience training should be woven into the cultural strategies around employee onboarding, ongoing learning and specific, role-centered trainings. It’s not an idea to get to when we most need it. It’s an idea that should be reinforced and represented along each part of the employee experience, not just when it’s a crisis.
View customer experience training as a vital part of ALL your training. CX training should be strategically delivered throughout an employee’s journey.
Create employee experience maps to determine where the training is best delivered, based on role, experience and tenure.
3. Management literally crams in customer experience training.
Front-line retail workers, healthcare workers, hospitality workers and customer service agents are in roles where they need to be available. Sometimes taking a few hours or a day for a training with the entire team is simply not realistic. That’s when some leaders tell workers to get the training done on their time, whenever they can.
I get it. I really do. But…
When you ask these employees to “make time” for training, you are letting them know this training is not really a priority. It’s simply not fair to ask workers to create space in their schedules, outside of their regular duties and hours, to “check it off the list.”
A great teacher friend of mine said once that we make time for what’s important. She told me teachers must give time and space to learning in the classroom, not just for homework. As an English teacher, she often allowed for silent reading time in her classroom as a way to indicate this was a priority in her classroom.
We need to follow this advice for the CX training we ask our employees to take. Don’t treat it like a burden or a punitive assignment. Allow for time and help your entire team see it as the priority it is.
Create space and time for each employee, regardless of their role, to receive training in a meaningful way. Prioritize this education by allowing them the headspace to consider it thoughtfully.
This sometimes means teaching in shifts or breaking up the training into bite-size pieces. It should always mean paying your workers for their time training and appreciating their efforts to learn and apply what they learn.
4. Employees are learning the inside-out view, not the outside-in view needed.
Customer experience is one of those things that feels easy, like anyone should be able to quickly “get it.” Be nice to customers, don’t over-promise and collect feedback as you go.
Of course, anyone who’s tried to learn about customer experience knows it’s not quite that simple. And it’s not easy at all to move from that inside-out perspective of an employee to the outside-in perspective of the customer.
Homegrown customer experience training often lacks that important outside-in perspective. It’s way too easy to fall into process training. Management explains what they believe happens to their customers and what process they’ve designed that they want customers to follow.
Instead of discussing the reality of a customer’s situation, this training stays squarely in the wishful thinking category. Employees might understand the ideal scenario, but not really understand what the customer experiences.
Stress the outside-in perspective. The easiest way to do this is to bring in an outside trainer, but it’s important to weave this throughout your ongoing customer experience discussions.
Bring in the customer’s voice through journey maps, contact center recordings, testimonials, and more. Don’t allow any customer experience training to be completely void of the customer’s perspective.
They deserve representation.
5. Customer experience education is only for specific, customer-facing employees.
Oh boy. This is one that really gets me. If you’ve read my other articles or listen to the podcast, you’ve heard me say this before – you need a customer experience mission. This mission should define and inspire everyone in your organization to deliver the right experience for your customers.
It’s not acceptable for those employees in “non-customer-facing” roles to think the customer experience is not of their concern. They need to see how the work they do every day has a direct impact on the overall customer experience. Keeping them isolated from learning and training is telling them not to worry about it.
Every person in your organization, whether they deal directly with customers or not, has an affect on the experience your customers have with your brand. It’s cliche to say, but it’s true. Customer experience is everyone’s job.
Design training that works with different teams and their responsibilities. Accounting should understand how they play a role in the customer experience. Your directors of talent management should be just as engaged with the customer experience as your customer service agents. Every department — and every individual within those departments — has a role to play.
To summarize, the best ways to overcome common CX training obstacles:
- Ensure the overall customer experience strategy is defined, communicated and connected to any training related to tools, processes or procedures.
- View customer experience training as a vital part of ALL your training.
- Create space and time for each employee, regardless of their role, to receive training in a meaningful way.
- Stress the outside-in perspective.
- Design training that works with different teams and their responsibilities.
You can do this! Customer experience is about so many amazing things, including ongoing education.