Course Outcomes

This creative and critical thinking course for customer service will:

  • Explain the value of critical thinking and creative problem solving in the customer service experience.
  • Offer a range of tools for defining problems.
  • Explore assumptions and biases and their impact on critical thinking.
  • Discuss the importance of deliberate thinking.
  • Provide participants with opportunities to practice a range of ideation tools.

Course Overview

Understanding how to smile and act with courtesy is one part of the customer service equation, but knowing how to think critically and creatively to solve problems is another essential skill set service people must have in order to deliver a first-rate experience. This interactive workshop introduces problem-solving skills, processes for thinking critically, and a range of ideation techniques.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Discuss how critical thinking and creative problem solving can positively impact the customer experience.
  • Gather data methodically for the purpose of identifying root causes.
  • Document symptoms or issues.
  • Describe how assumptions and biases impact the critical thinking process.
  • Segment customer groups, products, services, and other entities in a systematic way.
  • Create a problem statement.
  • Apply a range of problem-solving techniques to real-world problems.
  • Explain whole-brain thinking and the importance of understanding how people solve problems.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline

Get Out of Your Way: Carving New Paths

It’s hard to solve old problems in a new way when day after day you are used to doing work a certain way. This course opens with several problem-solving and creativity exercises designed to get participants engaged in out-of-the-box thinking. Following those activities, we will define critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving. Next, participants will identify how they could benefit from better use of those skills and brainstorm a “bug list” of workplace problems.

Diagnosing Problems: Clarifying Targets

This workshop segment examines the importance of defining problems. In this part of the course, we will look at tools for collecting information for the purpose of identifying root causes. Specifically, we will focus on gathering data: what, when, and how; asking why, and applying the CATWOE framework to situations in order to build a holistic understanding of a problem. Additionally, because in service the person collecting data is not always the person who diagnoses the problem, during this part of the program, we will discuss the importance of effective communication in documenting symptoms.

Clearing the Fog: Understanding Assumptions and Biases

When people fall victim to their assumptions or don’t recognize their biases, often they produce faulty thinking. In turn, service activities based on their flawed perceptions often result in a customer experience that is out of alignment with an organization’s service goals. This course component examines assumptions and biases. During this part of the program, we will look at 13 common biases that can prevent people from thinking critically and examples of how assumptions can influence reasoning. Following that activity, we will work through a decision-making exercise that highlights the different ways in which people make decisions based on their values, biases, and assumptions.

Thinking Methodically: Working with Purpose

This module focuses on deliberate thinking and Business Training Works’ strategic-thinking tool, Lenses: Gaining Focus and Seeing New Perspectives.TM In this part of the course, participants will discover the importance of looking at customers, products, and services through a range of lenses for the purpose of determining what segments to target, where to spend time, what to promote, what to develop, and what to change.

The Idea Factory: Crafting Options

In this part of the workshop, we will return to the “bug list” created at the beginning of the day.  During this course component, we will apply a range of problem-solving tools to address those bugs: SCAMPER, reverse brainstorming, celebrity consultant, visual prompts, forced limitations, and others as time allows. The goal of this portion of the program is to introduce participants to some of the options available to them for generating solutions to well-defined problems.

Whole-Brain Thinking: Differences in Processing Modes

Not everyone brings the same processing preferences to problem-solving. In this final part of the program, we will introduce the idea of whole-brain thinking and the differences in people’s processing modes. By understanding their preferences and the range of thinking preferences to which others may adhere, participants are more likely to be aware of their blind spots and the value multiple points of view add during group decision making.
By the conclusion of this program, participants should understand how to leverage critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving to provide better service to internal and external customers.