Customer Experience Training Program Activity: Send Them Shopping?

October 1, 2013 12:09 by Dana Peters

When you think about designing, developing, and delivering a Customer Experience training program, you probably don’t picture your participants spending a few of those precious training hours out shopping at the mall. We would call that playing hooky, right?

Maybe not.

Last week I read about an activity Cambrex Corporation conducted, which turned frontline customer service representatives into customers. They sent them out shopping. This got me to thinking about how this idea could be adapted into our training programs. I thought you might see an opportunity as well.

Our Current Activity

We often incorporate the following small group activity in our customer experience training programs. The goal is to have the participants define what great customer service looks like, sounds like, and feels like. To get them thinking this way, we ask each participant in each group to discuss the following:

  1. Describe a time when you, as a customer, experienced outstanding service. What about this experience made it so outstanding? What pieces of this would you like to incorporate into your delivery of service?
  2. Describe a time when you, as a customer, experienced lousy service. What about this experience made it so bad? What lessons would you like to keep in mind as you serve your customers?

As you can imagine, some rich stories are told.

Taking all the information shared each group then breaks these situations apart to articulate their formula for providing top notch customer service. When we come back together as a large group, we debrief and work through a process which brings each group’s ideas together to define what the team’s overall customer experience vision is. 

Maybe a Better Activity

So what did Cambrex Corporation do?

To summarize, customer service team members were divided into teams of two. They were given a list of items to purchase, cash, and sent out shopping at the local mall. The goal was to give these representatives the opportunity to benchmark their service against other organizations. While shopping they were asked to follow these rules:

  • Only one item may be purchased per store.
  • Each person on the team must purchase each item. 
  • A salesperson must be consulted at each store. 
  • A customer service evaluation form must be completed for each store.

The customer service evaluation form included several questions to flush out the quality of the sales and service experience.

After the shopping trip, the team reconvened as a group to review their completed evaluation forms. They discussed areas where improvement could be made, and to determine lessons learned that they could transfer to their own operations.

If you want to read more details, this activity was featured on CSWeek.com’s website. There is a lot on this page. This particular activity can be found under the heading “Reps become secret shoppers”.

When I think about the applicability of this type of exercise to our customer experience training programs there are several adjustments I would make, but I liked the concept. It’s hands-on, experiential, and (if done right) relevant.

What do you think? Have you done a similar activity? What lessons could you share? Don’t be shy, please comment below. You are also welcome to contact me directly through mondolearning.com or tweet us @mondolearning.

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Customer Expereince | Customer Service | Rebecca Doepke | Sales | Training

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