10 Free, Quick and Easy Customer Service Training Games with Ready Debriefs

February 7th, 2017 | Kaye Chapman | Customer Service
10 Free, Quick and Easy Customer Service Training Games with Ready Debriefs

Are you looking for training games to fill 5, 10 or 20 minutes in a team meeting, buzz session or training program? These short and easy training activities need almost no preparation and deliver powerful messages.

Whether your team is service or sales, whether they work with customers face to face, over the phone or through live chat, these activities will work for teams of any type to help you promote key customer service and teamwork messages.

There’s also a suggested debrief for each activity, allowing you to easily and effectively draw focus to the learning objectives once each activity has been completed.

Read on for our top ten suggestions.

For even more ideas, see our previous post: 20 Customer Service Training Ideas and Activities for Busy Teams.

  1. Customer Service Superheroes

    Focus: Best Practice, Customer Service

    Duration: 20 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Flipchart/whiteboard and different colored pens

    This is a fun activity to get your team members thinking about the attributes of great service that are really important to your organization.

    Split your team into groups of three or more and ask each group to draw a picture of their customer service superhero on a flip chart or whiteboard. This superhero should embody everything that your customers want. It can be as fun, irreverent and artistic as they like. Ask them also to come up with a name for their superhero.

    Once the groups are done, ask each team to introduce their superhero and explain the rationale for certain features.

    As the groups describe their pictures, point out particular features you really like. You can either pick a winning team and give them a small prize, or congratulate everyone for their contribution. The finished pictures can be put up in your office to remind everyone what great service looks like!

    Debrief: Being a customer service superhero isn’t easy, and you might not be able to do these things all the time. But for each and every interaction you have today, question yourself and ask ‘Is there anything else I can do? What other needs might this customer have?’ Doing this will help you deliver service that’s truly effective and adds even more value than the customer originally anticipated – moving you ever closer to being their customer service superhero.
  2. The Bus Driver

    Focus: Communication, Listening Skills

    Duration: 5 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Just your team

    This is a great activity to demonstrate the importance of active listening and not making assumptions.

    Tell your team you are going to tell them a story. They will need to listen carefully and they should not take any notes. Once you have finished telling the story, you will ask them a question about what they have just heard. If anyone knows the answer to the question, ask them to keep it to themselves until asked to share.

    “You are the bus driver on the number 10 bus. At the first stop, 29 people get on. On the second stop, 6 of those 29 people get off, and at the same time, 10 new passengers arrive. At the third stop, 8 passengers get off. The bus is running a little early, so during 3 minutes wait at the stop, 14 people and a dog get on. At the fourth stop, 12 passengers get off, and 2 passengers get on. At the fifth stop, everyone gets off.

    How old is the bus driver?”

    Ask anyone who knows the answer to put their hands up but not say the answer. Most people in the team who do not know the answer will probably look quite puzzled and some might say that you hadn’t given them that information to begin with!

    Finally, ask anyone in the team who knows the answer to share it. If nobody knows the answer, share it with them: the very few first words spoken were “You are the bus driver” so the bus driver is as old as you are.

    Debrief: In this story, we all tend to concentrate on the numbers and the detail, thinking that this is the information that’s really important. Sometimes when we are talking to customers, we do the same. It’s easy to make assumptions about what you think your customer needs if you’ve dealt with lots of similar-sounding queries before, or you’re not truly focused on what they’re saying. Listening actively and asking the right questions to get to the root of their issue will allow you to fully understand their needs, without being blinded by assumptions or unnecessary detail.
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    Let Me Tell You What I Can Do

    Focus: Negotiation, Questioning Techniques

    Duration: 15 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Just your team

    This activity is adapted from Business training works.

    Ask your team to get into pairs. Explain that the object of this activity is to explore how best to offer alternatives.

    One member of the pair should ask the other for something they cannot say yes to. It can be as outlandish or silly as they like. For example,

    I want a pet elephant.

    The team member receiving this request should think of an alternative to offer, without directly saying no. For example,

    The local pet shop has a lot of great animals which might fit better in your house. I’d recommend buying a dog. Some of them are quite big and they’re a lot easier to clean up after!

    After two rounds, swap the pairs and ask them to repeat the activity. This time, challenge them (if they haven’t already) to ask some probing questions of the requester to find out why they want what they have requested, to find a solution which more closely meets their needs.

    An example of a good probing question:

    Can you tell me more about why you’d like a pet elephant?” or “Why is it important to you to own an elephant?

    Once the pairs have finished, ask the requesters whether their original request was more closely matched when they were asked a few questions about why they wanted what they did. The team will agree that this allowed them to find better solutions.

    Debrief: Sometimes, customers will ask us for things we just can’t do. It’s always best to avoid saying no, and work with your customer to offer alternatives. In this activity you will have come up with some great ideas for meeting your customer’s needs without just turning them down and leaving their request unfulfilled. Asking your customer questions to explore why they wanted a certain thing, allows you to offer an alternative that more closely matches their requirements – even if the original request was totally impossible to fulfill!
  4. The Change Challenge

    Focus: Communication, Change

    Duration: 20 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Only your team!

    This game is great for a team which is currently going through a lot of change, or you can adapt the debrief to talk about the impact of change on customers.

    Ask your team to get into pairs and explain they will be taking part in an experiment about change.

    Ask one person in each pair to study their partner closely. Then, tell the partner that they will need to change three things about their appearance. Give them a moment to think what they might change. Once ready, ask the observer in the pair to turn around so they cannot see their partner, and ask the partner to make the changes. Give them thirty seconds to do this.

    Once changes have been made, ask the observer to guess what changed.

    Ask partners to switch roles and repeat the experiment again.

    Repeat the activity as many times as is needed, upping the difficulty as you go. Increase the changes to five. You could even reduce the time to make changes from 30 to 20 seconds or even less.

    The changes will get more and more outlandish as the activity repeats – expect to see people removing shoes, changing their hairstyles, or even wearing coats backwards! When participants start to protest about the amount of changes, stop and move to discussion.

    Good questions to ask the team are:

    • How did that activity feel? Why?
    • Why don’t some people like change?
    • What could have been done differently to help make the changes in this activity easier to handle?

    Debrief in one of two ways.

    1. A debrief for a team experiencing change:

      Change is a difficult thing for a lot of people to accept. We all tend to like easy, clear instructions, and routine. During times of change, it’s not always possible for changes to happen on our terms – they may happen too quickly, or too frequently for our comfort. It can take a lot of courage to accept new ways of being, and stop holding on to what was. Remember that progress isn’t possible without change, and by being open to new things, we open up opportunities for even better ways to work and live.

    2. A debrief for helping customers accept change:

      Our customers might not always see things the way we do. They might not have anticipated a change, or understand why it’s happening. And few people tend to like change – it can bring uncertainty into what were stable and expected ways of being. Your job then, is to ask probing questions to allow your customer to explain their thoughts, then give your customer the right information to allow them to understand the reasoning and benefit behind a change. By doing this, you transform them from a bystander on the sidelines watching things happening to them – to a person who is an informed partner in the change process.

  5. The Curse of Knowledge

    Focus: Communication, Listening Skills

    Duration: 5 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Flipchart/whiteboard and different colored pens

    This activity is adapted from a psychological experiment which highlights the importance of clear communication.

    Divide the team into pairs. One of the pair should be a “tapper”, the other, a “listener”. The tapper should think of a well-known song, but not tell anyone what it is. They then need to tap out the rhythm of the song (on a table or similar) to their listener, who will try to guess what it is.

    Congratulate any listeners who succeeded, and for any listeners who did not get the song, ask the tapper to reveal what it was. The pairs should then swap roles and repeat.

    Explain to the team that when this experiment was originally ran, the tappers were asked beforehand to guess the chances that their listener would know the song – and around 50% said they thought their listener would succeed. In reality, the odds were closer to 2.5%.

    Ask the team why they think this is. The team should be able to pinpoint that when you can hear the song in your head, you have a clearer “picture” of it than someone without that knowledge.

    Ask the team how this relates to their work. They should be able to link this the difficulties of communication when you have expert knowledge of your product and service while your customer does not.

    Debrief: It’s sometimes very difficult to convey information you know well to someone who doesn’t have access to that information in the rich way that you do. And it’s difficult for you to imagine what it is like for the person who hears just taps, rather than a song. This is called the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something well, it’s difficult for us to imagine what it’s like to not know that thing well, and it becomes difficult to relate to others who are not in our position. To stop this, think carefully about the way you explain things. Are you using jargon? Are you taking things step by step? Really analyzing the way you explain things can help you gain control of your communication and stop the Curse of Knowledge in its tracks.
  6. Unique Perspectives

    Focus: Teamwork, Collaboration

    Duration: 10 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Flipchart/whiteboard and pens

    Use this to help a team to learn more about each other. This is also a great activity for discussing similarities and differences between team members and emphasizing the importance of diversity. On a whiteboard or flip chart, draw intersecting circles – as many circles as there are team members. Make sure there is a section in the middle where all the circles intersect, as well as areas where the circles next to each other overlap.

    Unique Perspectives

    Ask each team member to write one thing that is unique about them inside their circle. To make this harder, you can suggest they are not allowed to use physical attributes, such as hair color, height etc.

    Then, ask each team member to talk to the person whose circle intersects theirs, to find one thing that they both have in common. Write these in the spaces where each of the two circles intersect.

    Finally, for the area in the middle where all the circles intersect, ask the team to think of one thing they all have in common. (You can reject any work-related suggestions, if you choose, to encourage your team get really creative!)

    Debrief: All of you are unique individuals, with different cultures and perspectives. That’s why we’ve hired you – can you imagine how monotonous and difficult work could be, if we all came from the same places with the same backgrounds? However, despite our differences, we can all find common ground, even with those who might seem very different to us. Remember this when you’re talking to your customers today – despite our differences on the outside, we’re often all pretty similar on the inside.
  7. Better Together

    Focus: Teamwork, Collaboration

    Duration: 10 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Printed word list, pens and paper.

    The best teams collaborate to get results. This activity emphasizes the importance of collaboration in meeting team goals.

    Print out this list of 30 objects for your team to look at. Feel free to replace any or all of the objects with items relevant to your workplace.

    Give each team member a pen and paper. Explain that you will be showing them a list of 30 objects, which they will look at for 30 seconds only. Without writing down any of the words while they are looking at them, their job will be to remember as many of the objects as possible once the list has been taken away.

    Give the team 30 seconds to remember the items on the list, then give them another minute or so to write down as many as they can remember. Once finished, ask them how many they remembered. Congratulate the person who remembered the most.

    Next, ask the team to compare lists to come up with a master list of objects.

    Finally, show the list of objects again to see how many the team got right. The amount they had remembered together will be a lot more than they had remembered individually!

    During the debrief, be sure to recognize any instances that team members naturally bounced ideas off each other, during the first stage of the activity before they had been asked to collaborate.

    Debrief: Hopefully we all recognize that we’re better when we work together. By utilizing the added power that comes from collaboration, we can create better results not just in remembering lists of words, but in fixing issues for our customers. Next time you’re in a situation that you’re not sure of the answer to, don’t try to go it alone – remember you have the backup, knowledge and experience of everyone here to help you create even better and stronger solutions.
  8. Salt and Pepper

    Focus: Teamwork, Collaboration

    Duration: 10 – 20 minutesminutes

    What You’ll Need: Paper, pen, tape

    This activity is adapted from Refresh Leadership.

    Closed questions can work as a huge barrier to effective communication. In this activity, your team will see the impact of closed questions on communication, and explore how they can use more open questions to gather better information and reach quicker conclusions.

    Prepare the activity by writing pairs of things, each on one sheet of paper. Examples you can use could include: Salt and Pepper, Peanut Butter and Jam, Batman and Robin, Fish and Chips, Mom and Pop, Black and White, Knife and Fork, Bread and Butter, Bow and Arrow, Cat and Mouse. Write up enough for each person in your team.

    If you have an odd number of team members, make sure you take part as well.

    Mix up the pieces of paper and prepare some strips of tape.

    Gather your team and explain that each team member will be assigned one item out of a pair – for example, if the pair is Salt and Pepper, they will have just Salt. This is written on a piece of paper which will be taped to their back. Their job is to find the person with their matching item, but they are only allowed to ask closed questions (questions with a yes/no answer) to do this.

    Ask your team members to stand in a line, and tape the pieces of paper to their backs.

    When you say go, let the team members walk around trying to find their matching pair. This should be a fairly tricky activity! When you see a pair succeed in finding and identifying each other, ask them to sit down.

    If the activity is dragging on and you need to finish it, announce to the team that they can now use open questions. The game should then finish very quickly!

    Ask your team to discuss how difficult this felt, and what strategies could have helped. They should be able to recognize that different questions are useful in different situations.

    Debrief: Closed questions are not a good way to gather information. You will have needed to use great communication and creativity to get round this barrier and find your matching person. Most of us tend to think we use a good selection of open questions to get to the heart of the issue, but in reality it can be more tricky to find a truly effective question that gives you all the information you need right away. Really effective, probing questions that start with ‘Can you tell me…’ or ‘Can you explain…’ give your customer a chance to tell you more about what’s important to them, allowing you to craft even better solutions. If this isn’t something you do already, try it today and see how it improves your interactions.
  9. Customer Service Alphabet

    Focus: Best Practice, Customer Service

    Duration: 10 Minutes

    What You’ll Need: Flipchart/whiteboard and pens

    This is an easy activity that gets your team thinking about which values, attributes and behaviors make great customer service.

    Prepare by drawing up the alphabet in columns on a flipchart or whiteboard, with spaces next to each letter to write a word or short phrase.

    Give your team pens and ask them to think of one positive customer service value, attribute or behavior beginning with every letter of the alphabet. For example, A might be Accountability. B could be Building rapport.

    Ask them to do this for each letter of the alphabet, writing the words on the board next to their letters. If they get stuck on letter like X or Z, tell them they can use words containing X or Z instead (you can use eXceeding expectations and analyZe needs if they get totally stuck.)

    Debrief: Hopefully you should all be familiar with the concepts here. But if there’s anything here that you’re not so familiar with or that you’re not sure you do consistently, I challenge you to do some research and find out how you can build this into your interactions. You can do some Googling of any of these concepts, ask me, or ask the colleague who suggested it a little more about how they apply this to help make their work better.
  10. Famous Communicators

    Focus: Best Practice, Customer Service

    Duration: 20 minutes

    What You’ll Need: Flipchart/whiteboard and pens, ability to play YouTube video with sound

    Examining the communication styles of others often helps teams identify their communication strengths and weaknesses. This activity encourages your teams to think about what makes great communication and what lessons they can learn from famous communicators.

    Ask your team collectively to agree on a famous person who is a great communicator. Once they have identified a person, search for that person on YouTube and play a short clip of video of them talking.

    Do the same for a person who is not a great communicator. The team should have fun thinking of a famous person who is the opposite of what they are aiming for!

    Split the team into two groups and assign one of the communicators to each. Ask each group to write the name of one person at the top of the flipchart/whiteboard and to list the things that they do that make them a good or a bad communicator. (If you have time to fill, you could even ask them to draw a cartoon of that person and fill in ideas around it.)

    Give both groups a few minutes to create a list of attributes. If needed, challenge them to drill down into the specifics of what comprised that great communication – for example, writing “They sound confident” is good, but “Their body language and tone is steady and confident” is even better in pinpointing exactly what it is they are doing in the course of communication which makes them sound confident.

    Once done, ask each team to run through their points with the other team, and draw out any areas you find especially relevant or interesting.

    Debrief: There are many people in the media who model great communication styles, and others who unfortunately show us exactly what we shouldn’t be aiming for! By looking at the specifics of what great communicators do in their words, tone, facial expressions and body language, we can identify and borrow some of these things to improve the way we communicate. Think about what things you can try doing today to make us sound more confident, assured, and reassuring for our customers.

Have you tried any of these activities? Do you have any questions about how they might run or what other activities or knowledge could support them? Let us know in the comments below.

About 

Kaye Chapman is the Customer Experience & Training Specialist at Live Chat 100 and Comm100. She has a wealth of experience working alongside contact centers, improving processes and delivering engaging, effective and fun learning and development solutions. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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