By Jo Causon, CEO, The Institute of Customer Service
As I have said time and again throughout the past year, I truly believe that the millions of hard-working employees within our organisations will be the bedrock of our nation’s economic recovery. As we look to the future, and the effects of the past year continue to shake up nearly every aspect of the service experience, we need to provide adequate training and support to arm our people with the new and varied skills they need to carry out their roles.
The Government is already recognising the importance of upskilling the workforce to fuel our economic recovery – with large-scale reforms and investment for skills and training policies. We have just had the announcement of additional support for businesses that take on apprentices to create the skilled talent pipeline that will be necessary to thrive. But organisations, too, need to identify any skills gaps within their existing workforce and make efforts to address them.
We know from our research that appropriate and regular training can have a direct impact on business success. Those employees who attend regular development and training – particularly for personal skills such as confidence, innovation, or dealing with customers – are more productive, more engaged and able to provide better customer service. But perhaps more importantly, investing in training can help motivate and empower the workforce, demonstrating a show of support and an investment in the future for employees who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep the wheels churning.
For many organisations, financial pressures and the challenges of remote working have seen training and development fall somewhat to the backburner throughout the crisis. I also believe some have been tempted to lean on the rising demand for, and capabilities of, technology as a reason to stop investing in the development of their people. But I urge leaders to place training firmly back on the agenda. Those organisations that preserve customer relationships through an optimal blend of digital and human client services will be the fastest to rebound from the crisis – and this can only be achieved through a highly skilled, motivated and engaged workforce.