Will Kenny

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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

You Are in the
Customer Service Business

interactions outside the classroom impact your success

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Chances are, whether you work for the training function in a large organization or as an external training consultant, you aren't paying enough attention to the customer service aspect of your business.

At its most basic, you need to make deadlines and budgets, be responsive to questions and requests, and so on. Doing the core elements of your job well is the first step to creating a service others will value, and pay for.

But I'm talking about more general dealings with your internal or external clients. How are their calls and e-mails received? Are responses quick and appropriate? Do questions get answered, issues get handled, problems get fixed?

At heart, are you (or your department or consultancy) someone those clients, and prospective clients, like to work with? Do they look forward to contacting you, or do they put off having to deal with you, because it is usually a disappointing interaction, at best, or a consistent hassle, at worst?

Why is this so important? The truth is, there are always lots of people thinking about how nice it would be if you went away, and the funds that go to you went someplace else. You can argue that good training is crucial to any organization's success, and I will certainly agree with you, but then I'm not competing with you for limited resources.

Plenty of people are competing with you, directly or indirectly. Your training services either constitute a cost center within your organization, or an external expense for consulting services. You will always be vulnerable to ongoing efforts to redeploy those funds to other activities.

So why make it easier for a client, internal or external, to look for other ways to apply resources?

It goes without saying that the people who directly deliver training should be professional, friendly, helpful, and responsive. But why not make it a resolution to look at how all your interactions outside the classroom are being handled?

Let me give you an example. Some time back, I joined some associates on a project that was in the direct control of the CEO of a technology firm. We met in the CEO's office, and the receptionist was very nice . . . even when she had us throw our coats on the floor of the closet in the reception area, which had almost no hangers, and was half filled with broken desktop computers.

Now, we were vendors, of course, but potential customers who came to meet with the CEO got the same treatment. What did that do for their expectations about the personal, caring service they would receive if they signed a contract?

Look at how your phone gets answered, your e-mails handled, problems addressed, and ongoing contact maintained. If you have limited staff, or are a one-person consultancy, you may need temporary help or a "virtual assistant" to make things work.

But it is worth diverting some of your energy and resources to making sure the "envelope" around your training services presents you in the best possible light.

Most of us take this too lightly, and don't realize the opportunities we miss, or the damage that can be done through a casual approach to interacting with our clients. Especially now that resources are tight and competition is fierce, this is a good time to make sure the entire customer experience is top rate, not just the part that happens in the classroom.

© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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