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Expert Advice for Supercharging Your Business's Customer Service Training Service culture guide Jeff Toister shares his tips on how to provide employees with effective customer service training to impress your customers.

By Emily Washcovick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Excellent customer service is the backbone of any successful business and can help keep you top of mind for those looking for your products or services again. While providing good customer service might sound simple, it's more than just making sure your employees greet everyone with a smile. According to service culture guide Jeff Toister, there are three fundamentals to ensuring your business provides customers with the service they deserve.

  1. Definition: Clearly define what outstanding service looks like. In order for your employees to truly understand what they're expected to provide, establish a concrete, comprehensible explanation of how your business defines stellar customer service.
  2. Procedures: Avoid generic advice. Rather, break down the process into specific steps. This could look like starting off every customer interaction by introducing yourself in order to create an instant connection.
  3. Resources: Offer your employees the resources necessary to deliver the type of service you want them to provide.

One of the most important pitfalls to avoid when training your team is relying on external sources to do it for you. As an owner who knows their business inside and out, there's no one better equipped to teach your employees than you.

"Don't hire anybody else. If we take a step back and think, 'Okay, you've done your homework, you've defined what great service looks like, you have identified the best practice procedures your employees should follow to provide that service, and you've provided the resources necessary.' Who is best equipped to train them? You," Jeff said.

Being hands on with your business's customer service training isn't just giving employees a specific program to learn before they jump into the role. It's important to consistently highlight examples of when your staff exemplifies great customer service on the job—and uphold those examples yourself.

"How many times have you seen an employee just nail it? In the moment, you can come to them and say, 'You did so great. Let's break it down. What did you do? Because you should do it exactly that way the next time.' How many times have you seen an employee struggle a little bit and they needed just a little nudge or a little coaching? That's training. So all those places where you're already helping your employees understand how to do their jobs better should be part of your customer service training program. No long, boring workshops required," Jeff said.

Another easy way to spotlight instances of great customer service is through pre-shift meetings or "huddles." Taking five to 10 minutes before every shift to touch base with your employees and give a shout out to someone who did an exemplary job can create a positive work environment—helping them confidently navigate their day to day and gain loyal customers.

According to Jeff, a crucial part of being a leader is creating a workplace culture where people are not afraid to make mistakes and are instead willing and eager to learn from them. Only focusing on what your employees are doing wrong can create an unhealthy mentality of acting out of fear to avoid making mistakes.

"I'll never forget my first job when I was a high school student. I worked in a retail clothing store, and my boss did such a great job not only of demonstrating how to treat customers out on the sales floor, but she also did a great job of demonstrating how to treat each other by the way she treated everybody on the team. She treated them with the same level of respect and care that she expected us to treat customers," Jeff said.

More tips from Jeff that could help you train your team to provide genuine customer service include:

  • Hire people with the fundamental skills already in place to offer excellent service to your customers. If your new hire is already an amazing listener or a great problem solver, it won't take long for them to turn into a customer- and team-oriented employee.
  • Investing in the resources to train your team is worth it. Taking a little bit of extra time, money, and effort to provide your employees with the tools to succeed will help your business grow in the long run instead of forcing you to let go of hires that aren't able to meet expectations.
  • Take advantage of online resources that will help you train your staff. This could look like going on LinkedIn Learning for quick courses or signing up for Jeff's own free email subscription service, "Customer Service Tip of the Week."

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Jeff, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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