Yesterday I attended a full-day training session on “Achieving Excellence in Customer Service”. This is a very up-to-date topic, especially since there is the general tendency to consider everyone we deal with as customers: in our industry our customers would be the students, the academics, external organizations, and even our colleagues from other departments.
The training was focused on several different aspects of customer service, including how to increase one’s confidence and assertiveness when dealing with customers, how to deal with difficult situations and unhappy clients, and how to recognize different types of customers and treat them accordingly. All this not in the form of just sitting down and listening to an 8-hour monologue, but through discussion, interaction, even some role-playing.
The role-playing experience
The role-playing was honestly quite daunting for some of us in the group. The scenario involved an unhappy restaurant customer whose booking for their birthday meal had been messed up with. I was one of the “lucky” ones who had to play the role of the restaurant manager and deal with the complaint, although I did push to be in the group assigned the unhappy customer role – far easier in my view. The part felt a little uncomfortable, but the discussion and feedback that followed with the rest of the team was most useful.
Getting out of this session, I felt much more confident to deal effectively with difficult customer circumstances, whoever the customer. I also felt happy to get to know my very own “personality type” from a test that the trainer gave us, and most importantly, I was pleased that I had the opportunity to meet people around the University, most of whom I’d never met before.