The on-demand home service industry is growing in a major way. It hit the $600 billion mark back in 2019, and that number is continuing to climb. That means more business for home services companies, which translates to a greater need for customer service representatives (CSRs).
As you grow your team, it’s important to consider if you have the time to onboard and train CSRs. Some companies rely on a specialized third-party service to cover their CSR needs, while others decide to keep their CSRs in house. If you decide the latter, then you’re going to need to think about how to invest in onboarding and training. A thorough onboarding process is important for ensuring positive customer experiences, but assigning managers and field representatives to train new CSRs can eat up valuable time and resources.
According to the Society for Human Resources Management, one in 1,000 surveyed employees had left a job within six months of their hire date. Of those, more than 20% blamed a lack of good onboarding and training as a major contributor to their decisions to leave.
Whether you’re training for pest control, lawn care, roofing, HVAC, or something else, you need to make sure you’re giving people the kind of grounding experience that helps them succeed and keeps them on the team. Here are seven tips to get you started, each one grounded in HR best practices.
1. Use Interview Tactics that Predict Behavior
You can fast-track your onboarding and training process dramatically by making a few key changes to your hiring process. One is adding elements of behavioral interviewing into your screening process.
Behavioral interview questions ask about how the candidate handled certain situations in their past jobs. The answers show you how they’d act in similar situations in the job you’re hiring them to do.
To do this successfully, you’ll want to identify key behaviors in advance. List what you want the candidate to be able to do. For example, if you’re onboarding for technical support, one trait might be “calmly troubleshooting with an agitated customer.”
When interviewing, focus on the situation, not the behavior. Ideally, the candidate won’t know what behavior you’re assessing. Blend behavioral questions with traditional questions too, so you get a balanced understanding of the candidate.
2. Match the Personality with the Role
Breakthrough Academy has identified personality match as a key factor to career success, especially when hiring for a customer-facing position like the CSR. In this role, success depends directly on a person’s ability to build relationships.
Personality research shows that the most successful and career-satisfied CSRs share traits like:
- Emotional stability
If you look for these personality traits in hiring and reinforce them during the training process, you can help your CSRs to feel successful from day one.
3. Set Clear Expectations
Remember the surveyed employees that left their jobs within a few months? Almost a quarter of them said that clear guidelines about responsibilities would have helped them stick around.
Early in the onboarding and training process, clarify what you expect from your CSRs. Refer to key competencies in the job description and be as specific as possible. Your list may include expectations like:
- Maintaining an empathetic, encouraging, and professional tone with customers at all times
- Keeping all customer records up to date and accurate
- Meeting all sales targets and quotas (be sure to specify what those are)
Explain to new hires how your company evaluates performance, and make sure they know if they’re on track. Everyone will be more comfortable if expectations are clear.
4. Provide Plenty of Feedback
Feedback is a critical element of any employee training program, whether it’s a pest control training program or a module for lawn service CSRs. Strong feedback fast-tracks a new employee’s growth, moving them quickly from trainee to valued contributor.
If your company has a formal feedback process, introduce it early. If not, set up regular check-ins in the first month. Make sure that the new employee knows they can ask questions in between and find out how often they’d like to hear feedback from you.
When you do share insights about the employee’s performance, be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re training for home services like HVAC or pest control, identify a moment during a customer call when the new CSR excelled.
Don’t shy away from giving constructive feedback. If you noticed an area where they can improve, be specific about that too, and give suggestions on what they can do differently. Remember, every new employee wants to succeed.
5. Build Standardized Team Training Programs
Standardized team training sessions help to formalize expectations across the board, while also making sure everyone has the same solid foundation. They don’t take the place of individual training, but they enhance the learning experience for everyone.
- Pest control classes (or other trade-specific training classes) for CSR reps
- Q&A sessions with experienced reps
- Mentorship, coaching, and shadowing programs that match new trainees with seasoned employees
Programs like these strengthen your team as a whole. They reinforce the skills of your more experienced staff members and build the expertise of your newer CSRs faster.
6. Coach Key Management Staff
More often than not, managers are the ones on the ground working with new employees. Unfortunately, even experienced managers don’t always know how to provide useful guidance.
Management coaching can help. Coaching is different from training, in that it’s geared toward helping experienced individuals find their own solutions. Managers learn important skills like:
- Helping with goal setting
- Acknowledging and highlighting the learner’s strengths
- Modeling a solution-focused approach
They learn these skills from both the teacher’s and learner’s perspectives, so they can help new CSRs learn, grow, and feel empowered.
7. Implement Performance Reviews
A program for training customer service representatives shouldn’t end when the first month does. Employees are always learning, and that means ongoing assessments to measure performance.
Performance reviews normalize assessment as an ongoing element of learning. They make it more routine and less intimidating to receive feedback, and they help CSRs feel more comfortable asking questions.
The more you can help your trainees to feel comfortable asking questions and incorporating feedback, the smoother and less time-consuming the training process will be.
Start by clarifying your onboarding and early training processes, then look at how you can integrate learning as a regular company practice. Your CSRs will learn faster, get comfortable at their jobs sooner, and become more valued members of your team.
A Final Consideration: Third-Party Answering Service
It’s no secret that hiring, onboarding, and nurturing CSRs is no easy task. This process takes up valuable time and money, and can slow a business down when hiring for busier seasons begin.
With third-party answering service, home services providers don’t have to worry about any of the challenges when it comes to hiring and training. Slingshot is made up of U.S.-based CSRs who specialize in the home services industry. Use their 24/7 sales and customer service solution to handle your business’ overflow, after-hours and weekend calls without the pains of hiring and recruiting. The average ROI for Slingshot customers is 4-8X, while some are higher than 10X. Request a demo today and see if Slingshot is right for you.