today is the first day of the rest of your lifeThere’s two parts of training a customer service rep. The first is imparting the data your company holds. But the second is a little less straightforward. It’s about getting the rep comfortable. It’s terrifying to answer your first tickets. You don’t know enough. You’re scared you’ll screw up.

There isn’t just an emotional downside to this, there’s also a practical downside: scared customer service reps will take longer to answer tickets, bug their manager or coworkers more, and probably annoy the customer in their apologies and thoroughness.

At a recent customer service breakfast I heard some great tips on solving this.

  • Lindsay from Google says that after 4 days of training, she asks the agent to answer just one ticket. No throwing them in the deep end, just one. It’s a lot less intimidating.
  • Josh Judkin’s old boss told him “you can’t make any mistake we can’t fix”. It’s a great lesson: customer service is important, but what’s the worst that can happen? If you piss off a major client, someone else can apologize and give them a discount. You’re not going to ruin everything.
  • As we’ve mentioned before, proofreading tickets is also a great way to ease people into things. Jason from Twilio does this for 2-3 weeks because their product is so complex.
  • Sanna from Airbnb says they have a program called “Airbud”. You get an “Airbud” and shadow them for a full 30 days, so you can see how a real agent (not a trainer or manager, who may not be in the trenches) actually handles things.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make new hires comfortable. Find what fits for you and you’ll have a happy, productive new hire on your hands!

Sign photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz.

Baby photo courtesy of Paul Inkles