The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher. The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student. In 3rd and 4th place were gestures and smiles, and since we talk a lot about body language, will defer those for now.
So, let’s talk about the top two and how they relate to customer service. Oftentimes, you are in the role of being a teacher to the customer – particularly in this COVID-19 world where we’re having to do things differently, where customers are having to do things differently, or customers are often having to do things for themselves. If we want them to retain what we teach, we need to shift some of the past paradigms in the customer service world.
Longer Conversations – First, a short customer conversation may be good for a call center’s handle times, but it’s bad for a customer’s learning. Increasing our patience, planning for more time with customer encounters, and ensuring customer understanding of processes, activities, and expectations – these actions have the greatest effect on how well the customer learns what we’re teaching them.
Encouragement – Second, it’s not just a matter of conveying the right information and allocating the time to it. It’s also a matter of encouraging the customer. I know we don’t often think of ourselves as the coach to the player as employees to the customer, but when we are helping them to help themselves and expecting them to do things differently, we need to encourage them just like coaches encourage players. We need to give them positive feedback just like teachers should with students or – for that matter – we should with each other.
When you find yourself in the role of educating others, allow for longer interactions with customers, and ensure the content is complemented by your encouragement of the customer.
Be a great teacher to your customers.