'Welcome ME' is a Free and Comprehensive Online Customer Service Training Tool for All Maine Businesses

By Jaimie Logan, Governor's Account Executive, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development

Employers have a number of resources at their disposal throughout Maine to assist them with their business, and it's my job as a Governor's Account Executive to recommend and help find those resources. From business planning to permitting to a variety of incentive and marketing programs, businesses across the state benefit and find themselves more competitive. However, one of the most critical tools for business success is too often overlooked, and that's customer service training.

Fortunately, Maine is lucky to have a free, web-based customer service training and certification program called "Welcome ME." Originally created to support Maine's hospitality and tourism industry, Welcome ME offers a consistent, accessible, certified training program for enhancing customer service delivery across all industries. Available at www.WelcomeMEtraining.com, Welcome ME is a statewide certification program that uses interactive components including a mix of videos filmed with Maine people in Maine locations, learning exercises, and short quizzes to reinforce key concepts. Successful users earn (and can print) a certificate of completion endorsed by the University of Maine, Maine Woods Consortium and Maine Office of Tourism.

Amy Lent, Executive Director of the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, recently asked her staff to take the course and now recommends the program for all business owners and employees.

"I found the Welcome ME program to be a quick and easy way to establish a uniform understanding of expectations for customer service," said Lent. "For those who have worked in customer service industries before, the program provides a great refresher; for those who may not have a customer service background, the program offers valuable tools for understanding and implementing key concepts."

Customer service is a foundation for business success. No matter how good the product or attraction, poor customer service can result in lost customers, sales and bookings. Social media has made it incredibly easy for customers to share their negative experiences.

Good customer service can set a company apart, build customer loyalty and increase tips. People want to do business with companies who value them. Research shows that excellent customer service is critical to business success:*

  • 86 percent of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience.
  • For every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent.
  • 91 percent of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again.
  • Attracting a new customer costs 5 times as much as keeping an existing one.
  • A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent.
  • Companies that make customer service a high priority see 12 times the return on sales than companies with a low emphasis on service.
  • 80 percent of companies are convinced they provide a superior customer experience, while only 8 percent of their customers agree.

Welcome ME provides the tools along with access to resources for all of Maine's citizens, whether they work directly in tourism or interact with visitors in other ways. Their goal is to better serve our guests.

This training is offered at no charge for anyone wishing to improve service skills and engage with others in more successful ways. After completing the approximately hour-long, four-part program, an assessment will check your skill level. With successful demonstration of knowledge about quality service you will be able to print a certificate of completion as a symbol of your expertise and knowledge about the delivery of the key success factors of service.

For a small investment in time and regardless of your industry, Welcome ME is sure to benefit your business and those you serve. To take the course, please visit www.WelcomeMEtraining.com.

*Sources: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report; Lee Resources, Inc.; Bain & Co.; International Customer Service Association; Cvent

Jaimie Logan is a Governor's Account Executive with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development in Augusta. Account Executives work as business liaisons to the economic development resources throughout the state and serve as the point of contact for businesses that might need assistance with programs, policies, funding and awareness of state resources. Her service territory includes Knox, Waldo, Lincoln and Penobscot Counties. Jaimie can be reached by email at Jaimie.Logan@maine.gov. And for a complete list of the Governor's Account Executives, please visit www.maine.gov/decd.