When it comes to training models in the customer experience space, you have two options: train-the-trainer or train-the-team. But knowing which one to choose isn’t as easy as flipping a coin. Sure, both methods are effective if used correctly - but what works best for your team is completely dependent on your organization's needs and goals.
In this article, we'll discuss some of the key differences between these two strategies so that you can make an informed decision about how to deliver successful and engaging customer experience training to for your team.
Understanding Customer Service Training Models
As technology, consumer behavior, and the global marketplace continues to evolve, businesses face a greater demand for quality customer service. Results from a 2020 Achieving Customer Amazement sStudy showed that 96% of customers expressed the desire to leave a company due to a poor customer service experience. Poor customer service can consist of many things, such as limited product knowledge, lack of responsiveness, unprofessionalism, lack of empathy, and inefficient resource management. As today’s consumers recognize the value of products and services, it is even more important for your business to adopt a training model that will ensure the most successful customer service possible.
One of the most effective ways to educate customer service teams on the best practices in their industry is to provide customer service training. In order to do so, you must choose a training model that meets the needs of your team. At SupportNinja, we are committed to providing customer service that is aligned with our core values. We understand the importance of a well-trained workforce. As an outsourcing agency, we not only want our employees to thrive and succeed as subject matter experts but our clients as well.
According to Ryam Ganjehi, Vice President of Service Delivery at SupportNinja, choosing the training model that is most appropriate for your company's needs is very important. “Training models are created as a plan to help you decide how you will design, teach, and measure the overall success of your training program. Remember, the goal of customer service training is to transfer as much knowledge to your team as possible. This knowledge will allow them to better serve their customers, which in turn will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Choosing the “Train-the-Trainer” Model
There are two types of training models commonly utilized in the customer service industry: Train-the-Trainer, and Train-the-Team. Each model has its own pros and cons. The Train-the-Trainer model is where you pick one or a few people to become trainers, and they learn how to teach the rest of the team. This involves taking on a more traditional approach to training. This model typically focuses on subject matter experts (SMEs) who deliver the training program. At SupportNinja, we like to refer to our experts as “learning consultants.” You might also commonly hear companies refer to their experts as “master trainers.”
The instruction provided with the Train-the-Trainer model is usually focused on teaching new skills and providing guidance on how to apply those skills in the workplace. Trainers may also provide support to ensure learners are able to use their new skills effectively. This typically follows an outline like this:
- The master trainer directly teaches potential trainers.
- The master trainer and potential trainer co-teach a lesson together.
- Next, the potential trainer takes over while the master trainer becomes the student. This gives the master trainer the chance to view the potential trainer in action and offer valuable feedback on their performance.
- Once the potential trainer has met all the standards and objectives for mastery, they can then deliver instruction independently.
This type of training is often effective when there is a need for thorough coverage of multiple topics or complex processes, as fewer people are required to deliver the information efficiently.
In this program, trainers have the chance to exercise their authority and engage others in a way that appeals to a diverse crowd of learners. In addition, the Train-the-Trainer model…
- Builds up internal expertise.
- Establishes a training program that is more consistent.
- Promotes critical thinking.
- Encourages and facilitates healthy discussion.
- Reduces employee turnover and negativity.
It is important to note that if the company has a significant number of learners who need to be trained, it is possible to have more than one trainer delivering instruction. However, there are a few drawbacks to this model to keep in mind.
- It can be time-consuming.
- Costs can easily add up.
- If the trainer is absent (sick, a personal emergency, etc.), you are losing time and money. No one will be available to effectively deliver instruction until the trainer returns.
- If you are training multiple trainers, the instructor will need to see the trainers in action in order to provide valuable feedback that is unique to each individual.
The Pros and Cons of “Train-the-Team”
In contrast, the Train-the-Team model is where everyone gets trained together. Train-the-Team involves multiple instructors working together as part of an instructional team. This approach typically gives trainers more flexibility when customizing materials and adapting content delivery based on learner needs and feedback. This model can also be highly beneficial when introducing material that is new for everyone, such as adopting new business software.
- Everyone is on the same page.
- It can be more cost-effective.
- Builds employee relationships through increased engagement and collaboration.
- Increases productivity.
- Team learning takes a hands-on approach. A recent Harvard study found that students successfully acquire more knowledge in hands-on team-based learning environments.
- Improves company culture.
- It's not as customizable for each person.
- Everyone has to be available for training at the same time. It can be challenging to build a consistent training schedule that aligns across departments, especially for larger companies with a greater number of employees.
- You need to elicit input from team members. This can be uncomfortable when working with your peers.
How To Make Your Training Model Work
As with any training model, there are benefits and drawbacks. When it comes to determining which training model is best for your company, it all depends on your goals and objectives, resources, and the size and complexity of the organization. As you weigh your options and assess the multiple factors to consider, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my desired outcomes of the training?
- What kind of budget can I allocate to this training?
- How many employees need to be trained?
- What is the current level of expertise and experience of each of the trainers?
- How much time do we have available for training? Is this enough time to become efficient?
- What resources do we have at our disposal to make this experience successful?
To make either model work, it is essential that you select the right individuals to become trainers. They should have an interest in expanding their knowledge, be open to feedback, have strong communication skills, and be respected by their colleagues. You will also need to have clear goals, a well-designed program, the right resources, and a way to track results and measure success.
If you choose to go with the train-the-trainer model, it's important to pick the right people and give them the support they need. This may look like considering the learning dynamics of your team, discovering new strategies or real-world examples that can enhance understanding, and prioritizing team building to create a safe space for learning. If you select the train-the-team model, make sure everyone can make it to the training sessions and is fully engaged. Communication and buy-in from everyone involved are key for either model to work well.
Furthermore, as you develop your training plan, your employees need to be able to demonstrate a certain level of understanding of the organization's products, services, and offerings. The more your employees know about the ins and outs of your business, the better they can serve their customers. They also need to have a strong handle on soft skills that will improve communication and relationships between the company and its customers. This includes active listening, positive language, empathy, and clear communication. Last but not least, an effective training program cannot be successful without aligning with the company’s mission and values.
How SupportNinja Can Improve Your Customer Service Functions
No matter the industry, E-commerce, SaaS, retail, travel and logistics, or otherwise, SupportNinja’s clients commonly turn to them to successfully scale their customer service functions.
As noted by Ganjehi, “We’ve done this for hundreds of clients and as a result, we consistently bring best practices to the table. Whether our clients already have an existing training model in place or need us to create a training model from the ground up, we are happy to build solutions that will help them achieve their objectives and meet their success measures.”
Are you ready to make the most of your customer service? Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide you with the best-customized customer service training model to meet all your needs.
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