Today, more than ever, a company’s success hinges on the quality of its customer service. How well your reps handle customer problems, complaints and other interactions is directly tied to your employee training investment. A well-trained customer service rep can quickly, compassionately and accurately resolve customer issues, keeping a level head and leaving the customer happy with the outcome most of the time.
But do you need to break the bank to pay for an excellent customer service training program? Luckily, there are training programs to fit nearly any budget. Here’s how to find a customer service training program that will provide your business with the right balance of efficacy and cost.
Customer service is crucial for long-term business growth. According to a PWC report, 73 percent of consumers say a great customer experience affects their future purchasing decisions.
Costs of customer service training
Generally, customer service training teaches representatives to remain patient with patrons while being empathetic, flexible and accommodating. Fostering positive relationships is the goal.
How much you pay for customer service training usually depends on three things:
- Type of training. A brief and general introduction to customer service costs less than a longer, more in-depth training that involves role-playing and education on handling various scenarios. The more hands-on the training, the more it will cost.
- Amount and length of training. One-and-done sessions are less expensive than more advanced courses that cover various topics.
- Number of employees receiving training. Training classes with a handful of employees are typically not as pricey as classes with roomfuls of employees. More participants require more materials and more of the instructor’s time and attention.
Average costs by training type
In order from least to most hands-on, here are average customer service training costs. Your actual costs will depend on your location.
- The purchase of customer service training materials: Spend as little as $100 or as much as $1,000.
- An online course with on-demand video: You may spend as little as $10 per employee.
- Customer service software: Costs may be as low as $80 for general customer service training software or as high as $1,000 for highly specialized training.
- Virtual training with a live instructor: Your costs can range from $1,500 (for up to six people) to $2,250 for up to 24 people.
- A full day of onsite in-person training: You’ll spend between $500 and $1,500 per employee and may incur business travel.
Incorporate customer service training costs into your hiring process budget. Consider actual training costs along with the indirect costs of new employees getting up to speed instead of being on the job.
Types of customer service training
Here’s a more in-depth look at the various customer service training options mentioned above to help you evaluate the best solution for your business.
1. Purchase and keep customer service training materials.
Buying customer service training materials is a low-cost solution. You can keep these materials for repeated use with new employees. These training materials may include videos, workbooks and audiotapes. However, these materials can quickly become outdated. You’ll likely need to reinvest every few years.
Ask for input from experienced employees about what customer service elements they feel the training program should include. Incorporate their suggestions to enhance your customer service training program.
2. Register for on-demand customer training courses.
Many companies use virtual customer service training for the following benefits:
- Online training is uniform. Global businesses can provide uniform training opportunities no matter where employees are located.
- Online training is accessible and flexible. Courses are stored in the cloud, and employees can access them 24/7. They can complete their training courses at various times that suit their schedules.
- Online training is always up to date. Customer service is an evolving industry. Employees must have the latest information to improve customer satisfaction.
Multiple corporate learning providers have online courses for customer service training. The following are a few providers of online training courses for customer service professionals:
- Corporate learning provider Alison has hundreds of virtual corporate training lessons and tests. Costs and course lengths vary, but some programs are free, and most provide certificates or diplomas. Visit Alison online to learn more.
- LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning offers courses on customer service best practices for professionals, representatives and managers. Prices, levels and course lengths vary. Topics cover communication, call centers, CRM software and more. Visit LinkedIn learning for more information.
- Cornell University. Multiple colleges and universities provide non-degree courses for customer service training. Cornell University has five virtual courses that delve into subjects like practicing customer service leadership and fostering a service excellence culture. Cornell faculty teaches and develops the programs, which are conducted completely online. Participants who complete the course receive a certificate. Visit eCornell to learn more.
Research from Gladly found that 42 percent of consumers said they would stop buying from a brand completely after just two bad customer service experiences.
3. Buy customer service training software.
Customer service training software has the same scheduling benefits as online learning but includes special features like worksheets, quizzes, printable notes and interactive graphics. Many customer service software packages let you add company-specific information and customize your training with actual policies and situations your reps may encounter.
4. Access virtual customer service training with a live instructor.
E-learning sessions taught by live instructors are frequently conducted via Zoom or other live video conferencing platforms. Virtual sessions give your company the flexibility of multiple locations, a lower price than in-person instruction, and an engaging format. Participants can ask specific questions and get answered in real-time, and a live instructor can keep participants’ attention better than an on-demand, pre-recorded video.
5. Enroll your team in traditional customer service training classes.
Customer service classes led by in-person instructors or consultants can provide up-to-date, industry-specific training. These classes provide materials and valuable training techniques like role-playing. However, they’re also the most expensive option. Having an actual person in the room leads to the highest engagement level, especially if the instructor is dynamic. Since this type of training usually takes at least half a day, it may engender some grumbling on the part of the employees.
How to evaluate training programs and their cost
When evaluating the pricing and costs of customer service education and training programs, consider the following questions:
- What is the value for the money? Does the customer service training program incorporate crucial elements that will make it worth your money? Courses should address listening skills, conflict resolution, stress management and crisis communication strategies.
- Is there potential for transfer of learning? Which training type will result in the best transfer of learning? Will your employees pay attention, digest and use the information as presented in training? If your employees don’t put the skills and techniques they learned into practice, the training is useless, and you’ll have wasted money.
- What is the importance of customer service in your business? How critical is good customer service to your company? If you have few customer service interactions and can easily resolve most issues, you may not need to pay a lot for customer service training. But if you have a complex or expensive product and a relatively high interaction volume, your customer service staff needs highly developed skills.
- Is there a critical customer service person? Consider giving one key employee in-depth customer service training. That employee can then develop a customized training program for subsequent hires.
- Could you train an escalation team? An alternative route is to give in-depth training to your escalation team. When a complex problem or particularly difficult customer appears, the issue can be escalated to this team for resolution. The rest of the customer service reps can receive a more fundamental training level.
- Are there relevant cross-training options? Review cross-training options relevant to your business, such as implementing sales or technology skills.
According to McKinsey’s 2022 State of Customer Care Survey, 41 percent of customer service leaders say a successful training and onboarding process that readies reps for optimal performance takes three to six months — and 20 percent say it takes more than six months.
The benefits of customer service training
Providing excellent customer service is a must, now more than ever. Customer expectations have increased since COVID-19, and companies that lack in this area are paying the price.
Here are some of the benefits of customer service training:
- Customer service training protects a company’s reputation. A well-trained customer service rep can strengthen your company’s reputation by using techniques that make the customer feel heard and valued. When they can kindly and professionally solve a customer’s problems, your company’s reputation benefits from customer loyalty, referrals and positive customer reviews.
- Customer service training improves employee job satisfaction and retention. Customer service can be stressful; reps deal with problems and upset customers all day. Lack of preparation can easily result in frustration and feeling overwhelmed, which can lead to the employee quitting. In contrast, developing great employees helps retain them. Robust customer service training gives new hires the confidence to do well on the job.
- Customer service training contributes to a culture of customer care. You may tell new hires that the company is customer-focused. Still, that ideal will only be reality if you follow through with a thoughtful and comprehensive customer service training program. A good customer service training program tells employees that your company culture prioritizes excellent customer service, and this feeling will translate into their customer service interactions.