Customer service training isn’t just for contact centres anymore. Universite Laval in Quebec City is investing in training for reception employees to improve customer service and present a more professional image.
The university’s human resources department selected BCE Elix to create and deliver a training program – with two levels – for its reception employees.
“They wanted to give them tools to improve their customer service,” said Rita Azrak, director of marketing with BCE Elix in Verdun, Que. “It’s not just limited to contact centres – it’s every person that interacts with the end customer.”
When it comes to providing customer service, technology isn’t enough, she said, because technology on its own doesn’t work. “You have to make sure your people are trained to use it, you have to make sure it’s properly supported and you have to make sure you understand why you’re implementing these technologies.”
You can have the best technology in the world, but if your agents don’t know how to deal with customers or handle certain situations, then your technology is not being used to its full potential, she said, since people, processes and technology all support one another. In addition to technology, BCE Elix also provides consulting, training and support around call centre solutions.
It’s offering two one-day courses in basic and advanced communication techniques to the university’s reception employees. Many of their interactions are face-to-face rather than over the telephone, so the courses had to be tailored to take that into account. The courses are not compulsory, and employees can take them at various times of the year in a small-group environment for personalized attention.
So far the university has trained 106 reception employees in 13 training sessions.
“One of the goals is to help people be more polite, listen more to students (so) they know how to talk to them and deal with them,” said Johanne Racine, personnel training and recruitment counsellor with Universite Laval. “It helps with the image of the university.”
Typically the participants are new employees who don’t know how to deal with clients, she said, and the goal is to help them become more efficient at their jobs. “It is important to train them and help them be in a better position with students,” she said. “We have about 38,000 students here at the university so they meet a lot of people – every day they have to answer questions on the phone or at the office and they have to know how to answer them correctly.”
Among the techniques taught are how to listen effectively, how to ask questions and how to break bad news. It addresses the art of conversing and the protocols of telephone interaction, as well as managing voice-mail messages and evaluating the quality of customer interactions.
The second-level course takes training a step further and deals with advanced communication techniques, including how to deal with people who react in a negative way and how to negotiate with different types of people, said Racine.
BCE Elix is seeing more organizations invest in quality monitoring tools, which allow them to record or coach an agent on a specific call. This can be used for training purposes or to improve internal processes by evaluating customer interactions.
BCE Elix, which is a Bell Canada company, specializes in contact centres. This is the first time it’s provided training to a university.