Customer service training ideas and activities to improve your team's skills

Hiring great customer service agents is one thing, but making sure your support team is set up to operate like a well-oiled machine long-term is an entirely different challenge, and that’s where customer service training comes in.

At the surface level, the goal of customer support is simple - answer questions from customers and help them solve their problems. But how you do that can make or break your customer service team.

Customer service training has a significant impact on your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty. It’s also correlated to how happy customer support agents are in their jobs. 

In this article, we discuss customer service training ideas to help your team achieve excellence. We’ll share why it’s important to have a well-thought-out customer experience training program for agents, and we’ll share specific tips for building your own high-end customer service training plan.

What is customer service training?

Effective customer service training arms agents with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to effectively handle customer interactions, resolve issues, and provide a positive customer experience.

Customer service training starts with onboarding but continues as new products and services are made available to customers. Training is an ongoing effort that needs to be updated and improved as your company evolves.

At PartnerHero, we understand each of our clients has a different brand voice, so it’s important to tailor training to match that. It’s not simply a one-size-fits-all approach. Each company’s customer support training is unique based on its brand, product, and services.

Why is it important to train customer service agents?

Customer service agents are the face of your company. They’re the ones on the frontlines interacting with customers the most. Well-trained customer service teams have the skills to represent your company the way you want, handle inquiries and issues efficiently, and ultimately contribute to customer satisfaction and retention.

Developing soft skills and hard skills is equally important for customer service teams, so it’s important to create a training plan that covers both. Soft skills help agents communicate information accurately and positively, using appropriate language and attitudes to manage interactions.

Hard skills or technical skills are focused on using specific tools, following protocols and instructions, and adhering to company policies.

Training your customer service agents benefits them, your company, and your customers. Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of training customer service agents.

Improves Productivity

Trained support agents will be more productive than agents who haven’t gone through any training. A good training process ensures agents are prepared to face any situation related to serving customers.

Through training, they learn which tools, systems, and processes to use when handling a customer inquiry. Training enables agents to be more proactive in solving customers’ issues, resulting in faster resolution times.

Your agents will gain new skills

Customer service training helps grow individuals, making your team and your company stronger overall. With technology advancing at a rapid pace, support agents must be up-to-date with the necessary skills to perform their job.

Each business has different needs when it comes to customer service skills. Sometimes you’ll have to train support agents on specific products, internal tools and software, processes, and maybe even language.

Empowers your employees

Training equips your team with more tools, skills, and knowledge to do their tasks proactively with less direction and guidance. This new empowerment makes them feel ready to take more risks on the job and do things they’ll otherwise feel unprepared for. Giving agents these skills makes the overall team and company stronger.

Lowers your employee attrition

Throwing new agents into the deep end with very little training can be frustrating and discouraging, ultimately leading to higher employee turnover. A well-planned training program makes support agents feel valued.

When a company shows they care about their employees, the employees are less driven to find other jobs. Companies benefit from low attrition as it is expensive to hire and onboard new support agents.

Allows your company to create a stronger work culture

Customer service training is a great opportunity to get agents familiar with your company’s culture. It’s important to address company culture in your onboarding process and continue surfacing it during every training session.

Every company has a set of values that drive their actions, the way they work, and how they make decisions. Support agents must know those values so they can align them with the work they do day-to-day.

How often should customer service agents be trained?

Customer service training needs vary from business to business. The type of service provided, complexity and technicality of the product, and more all influence how often training might be needed. 

QA and CSAT reporting can be great indicators of when training is needed. If quality or satisfaction is low or trending down, it’s possible your support agents need additional training on certain topics or processes.

Assess metrics regularly to stay ahead of training opportunities. In larger organizations, QA, training, and ops teams need to meet regularly as this promotes proactive and continuous improvement instead of being reactive when issues arise.

PartnerHero’s training method

PartnerHero uses different training methods based on the needs of the support team. A needs analysis is conducted so the training team has a clear understanding of how to handle specific requests that require training.

Once the training team has a comprehensive understanding of what is needed, the training is tailored to the specific skills that the customer service associates need to learn.

Once we have documented the needs, the training methods will vary from self-paced, instructor-led workshops (online content + instructor-led), roleplaying exercises, and shadowing sessions. Training might also involve a combination of these methods depending on the training objectives.

Topics for customer service training

Researching customer service training ideas can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of training activities to focus on based on our years of customer service training experience at PartnerHero.

Communication skills

Strong communication is a must for customer service teams, as it’s the core of what customer service is all about. Communication training refers to being able to communicate the right message to the customer every time.

It also involves being able to communicate internally with other teams like engineers, product managers, and leadership. Practicing empathy, writing clearly, and setting expectations are all major parts of customer service communication that should be covered in training.

Product knowledge

Customer service agents should be experts on the product or service they’re supporting. Depending on how complex or technical a product is, it might require a laborious training process to get to the level of expertise needed to successfully support customers.

Agents should understand the product, but they should also understand how and why the users are using the product so they can provide a personalized support experience.

Problem-solving techniques

Conflict resolution and problem-solving are essential skills for any job, especially customer service. Agents are faced with problems and challenges multiple times a day, and being equipped to be proactive, and anticipate needs and problems will enable them to overcome the largest obstacles without the need of micro-managing every step.


Empathy is a customer service superpower. It is the ability to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. The difference between an empathetic support experience versus one with little or no empathy is huge. It can be the difference between a good customer experience and a bad one.

Customer service isn’t just about solving problems, agents must level with customers so that the customer truly sees that the agent understands how they feel. Customers want to know the support agent truly cares about their concerns.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence in customer service is important, as the best agents can take heat from a customer without taking it personally. As difficult as this is, agents will occasionally find themselves in situations where a customer is rude and disrespectful. The ability to stay calm and empathize with the customer will help diffuse the situation.

While agents need to handle these scenarios with care, they should also feel comfortable speaking with team leads and managers about these situations so that they can be addressed with the customer if needed. Being berated by a customer is difficult, and shouldn’t be tolerated, so it’s important to know when to bring in management.

Tone of voice

Tone of voice is the way a person speaks to someone. The same statement can come across very differently depending on the tone of voice. With so much of customer service being done through non-verbal communication, the ability to convey different tones of voice through written communication is crucial. 

The nature of written communication means we don’t have verbal queues or physical body language to read. Compensating for that through strong written communication to match the necessary tone of voice is challenging, and therefore should be a dedicated part of customer service training.

Policy & procedures

Your company’s policies and procedures help the business run smoothly and consistently. They provide guardrails and guidelines for how to operate and handle situations with customers across the business.

Customer service agents should know the policies well enough so that they can adhere to them at a moment's notice when helping customers. Make sure to include these in the training program so agents are set up for success.

Understanding customer needs

Similar to empathy, support agents must be able to understand what a customer needs. Being able to pinpoint objectives and guide the customer to resolution is a much-needed skill in customer service. Agents should be able to think ahead proactively and anticipate the customers' needs ahead of time.

Methods for customer service training

The above customer service training ideas are a great place to start building your training program from the ground up. How you educate and transfer that knowledge can be done in a variety of ways.

You might even combine different methods of training. Let’s take a look at some of the most common methods for training customer service agents today.

Facilitated sessions

Facilitated sessions are traditional classroom-style training sessions where an instructor guides the participants through a series of steps to achieve the desired result. These can be done in person or remotely. This is a great way to conduct training for a group of agents. 

Role-playing scenarios

Role-playing is a great way for agents to develop empathy for customers and understand real-life scenarios. Putting agents in the customers’ shoes helps them understand their point of view. This approach to training can create a safe environment for agents to learn new skills and build confidence.

Real-life scenarios

Many people learn by doing. Having your agents solve real-life scenarios is a sure way to tackle training objectives. Reference previous customer inquiries or potential issues they may face and see how they handle them. Just like the best athletes, practicing will make your agents better at their roles.

Group discussions

Open group discussions are a great way to have your agents think through creative ways to solve problems. This also develops teamwork skills and promotes a collaborative and open-minded environment for growing as a team.


Gamification in training can introduce a healthy element of competition within the team. Interactive exercises are valuable activities to reinforce learning and develop practical skills. It motivates the team to improve and learn new skills together and it’s a great way to build team morale by delivering otherwise “stale” training topics in a more fun way.

The role of games and technology in customer service training

Technology plays a significant role in customer service training today. Gone are the days of needing to be onsite in a classroom to learn new customer service skills. Agents can go through customer service training remotely today, saving on training costs and enabling teams to conduct ongoing training for agents to stay up-to-date and fresh.

There are various training games, simulations, and learning management systems (LMS) that customer service teams can use for learning new skills. These games and systems use a variety of specific methods such as role-playing and real-life scenario training.

They also enable teams to make smarter training decisions through the use of data and metrics which are collected throughout the training process.

Tools like Solid Road and Zenarate can simulate conversations between agents and customers. Learning management tools like WorkRamp and Seismic bring structure, organization, and scalability to training programs. Using technology enables customer service leaders to conduct one-to-many training programs, collect data to track progress, and identify areas for improvement.


Customer service training is important to the health of your company, the customer support team, and your customers. Simply onboarding agents and letting them loose isn’t enough. The best support teams today have ongoing training opportunities to help them grow and stay up to speed and ready to help customers as products, services, and processes evolve.

If you’re in the early stages of exploring customer service training ideas, PartnerHero can help. We have years of experience building small and large support teams through comprehensive training and enablement programs. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you build a world-class customer service team.