According to research by the National Retail Federation, 71% of all employers value customer service skills. Customer service is clearly an essential skill for success in the workplace, and it’s something teens can start working on now. Whether they’re looking to land that first job or simply build a foundation for their future career, learning customer service is important—and the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up provides the skills and expertise that employers look for.

There’s a lot more to this robust and engaging curriculum (which you can learn all about on the RISE Up site ). Here is a sneak peek at five of the key elements of customer service pulled right from their curriculum that I had a chance to check out. Plus, ways you can incorporate them into your classroom today.

1. Knowing products and services

In order to provide customer service, employees need product and service knowledge. They must be able to supply information on a product’s features, know about industry trends, and assist customers in locating products.

Try this: Bring in a jackfruit and let students taste it. Next, have them do a little research on its uses. Finally, invite them to role-play produce employees and curious customers.

2. Making a connection with the customer

First impressions matter! Employees who project a professional image through clothing and appearance, are courteous and helpful, and use nonverbal signals (e.g. eye contact), show customers they are approachable.

Try this: Show students images of different service or retail industry employees (positive and negative examples) and ask them to interpret their body language cues. Encourage them to think about what customers might infer from their own body language.

3. Assessing a customer’s needs

Employees need to gather information if they’re going to effectively help a customer. The best way to do this is by using open-ended questions—that is, questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Try this: Give students a list of closed-ended questions and have them rewrite them as open-ended questions. For example:

  • Is this a gift?
  • Are you looking for anything special?
  • Do you see anything you like?

4. Personalizing service

Once a connection has been made and the employee has learned more about the customer, they can tailor the service experience to their particular needs. That may include explaining product features as benefits, demonstrating a product, or offering options or alternatives.

Try this: Have students brainstorm examples of products that have these options:

  • Choices of color, model, and size
  • Customization
  • Rental options

5. Following up with customers

Quality customer service extends beyond the time in the store. Following up is a great way to show the customer you care about their satisfaction. Depending on their company, an employee might invite customers to take a survey or contact them directly.

Try this: Have students write a mock thank-you note or email to a customer.

Help your students earn a RISE UP Customer Service & Sales credential today.

Register HERE to Get Started with RISE Up