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Customer Service Icebreakers and Short Exercises


Taking care of customers is one of the most important areas of business. The course modules in this section provide the essential materials, activities and games you will need to help your participants understand and improve their customer service skills.

Click on the stars in the table below to see our customer reviews.Click on the stars in the table below to see our customer reviews.

Document TitleDuration
(mins)
   
Art Gallery - Creating a Visual Representation
40
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Art Gallery - Creating a Visual Representation

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 30 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 40 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To explore a particular concept, idea or problem, in an enjoyable way.
• To develop shared understanding of the concept, idea or problem.
• To identify areas of uncertainty or misunderstanding.
• To identify lack of knowledge, which the facilitator can address in the rest of the session.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Coloured stickers or shapes (see note).

Notes:
There is a variant version to this ice breaker which entails asking participants to prepare a collage from the materials you have for them rather than just a drawing. Instructions, timing etc for the variant version are included in brackets in the text. Whether you choose to use them will depend mainly on how much time you are able to allow.

For this exercise you will need:

Basic version:
Flipchart paper, coloured pens and coloured stickers or shapes.

Variation:
As above, plus a collection of old magazines, journals, postcards, birthday cards or similar, scissors and glue pens.

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Course Introduction - A Basic Introduction to Training Events
45
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Course Introduction - A Basic Introduction to Training Events

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To welcome the participants.
• To introduce the facilitator(s) and participants to each other.
• To introduce the facilities.
• To agree the course objectives and timetable.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This initial introductory module allows the facilitator to find out more about the participants, to understand their expectations and to match them as closely as possible to the course objectives. By getting participant agreement at the start of the course, boundaries are set for what will and will not be covered. Where necessary the facilitator will be able to change or alter activities that will not meet participants' requirements or to spend more time on those that will. The objectives and expectations can then be reviewed at the end of the day.

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Customer Experiences 1
30
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Customer Experiences 1

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to consider their experiences as a customer.
• To identify ways in which poor customer service could have been improved.
• To briefly consider the impact of poor customer service.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
You will need a series of cards (or pieces of paper), half of which are marked with a cross, the other half with a tick. You will need one card for each participant.

Notes:
This exercise can be used as a focused icebreaker to any training around customer service.

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Customer Experiences 2
15
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Customer Experiences 2

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify personal examples of good or bad customer service.
• To demonstrate that negative experiences are likely to have a greater impact on an organisation's reputation than positive ones.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing, other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This exercise uses participants' own experiences and perceptions to build an understanding of the importance of customer care.

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Goldilocks - A Listening Exercise
30
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Goldilocks - A Listening Exercise

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module (longer for larger groups or where you want to explore some of the learning in more detail)

Aims:
• To test listening skills.
• To illustrate the dangers of making assumptions.
• To encourage participants to think about how they can check their understanding of information they receive.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of any size. It is possible to use this exercise in conference situations as well as more usual training interventions like courses and workshops.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing extra, but we suggest pre-preparing a flipchart sheet with the statements listed in the handout.

We've included a recording of the story, which can be played to participants if you prefer not to read it yourself. This can add to the story telling atmosphere. The recording can be downloaded and played as an MP3 file on any compatible equipment, including, for example, a laptop or ipod.

Notes:
We’d like to thank John Holloway for giving us permission to include it in the library.

This module is suitable for staff at all levels and can be used as an icebreaker, simple listening exercise, or as a short exercise to demonstrate how assumptions are made.

If You Like This Training Exercise:
You’ll LOVE ‘The Witches of Glum’ which is also available from Trainers’ Library. ‘The Witches of Glum’ has been endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card for its ability to make participants think about prejudice and stereotypes. To find out more about the great work this charity is doing to educate against racism, visit www.srtrc.org.

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Hopes and Fears - Establishing Aims and Objectives
45
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Hopes and Fears - Establishing Aims and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 20 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 45 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To establish participants’ worries about the training they’re attending.
• To identify what participants are hoping for in the training.
• To help establish/develop some objectives and ground rules for the training.
• To encourage an atmosphere of empathy and mutual support.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• A hat or other receptacle.
Hats can be purchased from Trainers' Market.

Notes:
This can be a really useful introduction to training that participants might be worried about. A typical example is presentation skills, where participants are often worried about having to make a presentation to fellow participants.

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Horror and Happy Ever After Stories - Sharing Experiences
30
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Horror and Happy Ever After Stories - Sharing Experiences

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide an opportunity for participants to share good and bad experiences.
• To gather real-life examples that can be referred to throughout the training.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
Our thanks to Buffy Sparks for her help in writing this icebreaker.

This exercise can be adapted to training on almost any topic, including, for example, sales, performance management, negotiation, change.

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Metaphor - Aims and Objectives
30
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Metaphor - Aims and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To identify how participants are feeling.
• To explore their thoughts, fears and concerns in a comfortable way.
• To establish learning objectives for the course or programme.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
Nothing other than the materials provided.

Notes:
This icebreaker can be useful for putting participants at ease. It provides a tool through which participants can highlight concerns and areas for personal development in a non-threatening and potentially humorous way. It is particularly useful when training around areas that participants may feel uncomfortable about or which they may find challenging.

The use of the metaphor makes it easier for participants to discuss their own development needs and any challenges that they face.

Depending on the subject matter, it is also possible to use the metaphor as a theme for the course or programme. Course handouts and other materials can be branded and themed around the metaphor that is used.

You will need to spend some time in advance of the session choosing a suitable metaphor for the topic(s) to be covered in the training.

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My Picture Says... - Identifying Values and/or Objectives
30
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My Picture Says... - Identifying Values and/or Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module can be completed in about 20 minutes. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing about 30 minutes.

Aims:
• To provide an opportunity for participants to learn something about each other.
• To help participants learn more about each other’s values and motivators.
Or
• To help participants identify group and individual objectives for the course/workshop they’re attending.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 15 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For Version1:
A selection of images, each printed on to an A4 sheet of paper. The images could be very varied and include, for example, abstract images, landscapes, animals, people and holiday scenes.

For Version 2:
A selection of images from Trainers’ Images (or a similar resource) that could be used to illustrate particular challenges, behaviours or problems that might be relevant to the participants.

Notes:
The time needed for this exercise will be influenced by the number of participants in your group. Allow 5 minutes for the initial exercise and 2 minutes for each participant to explain their choice.

We’d like to thank Nicki Davey of Saltbox Training and Events (www.salt-box.co.uk) for the idea for this icebreaker.

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Pass the Baton - Sharing Positive and Negative Experiences
30
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Pass the Baton - Sharing Positive and Negative Experiences

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to share good and bad experiences relevant to the subject of your course/workshop.
• To help identify issues related to the topic.
• To help participants identify key learning objectives for the course/workshop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need a baton, or two. (Two is nice, because you can have a red one for the negative experiences and a green one for the positives). You can make a baton out of rolled up paper, or alternatively, for a fun twist, you might like to replace your batons with sticks of rock (candy), with the 'winner' from each round keeping the rock as a prize.

Notes:
This is a simple, fun exercise that really does encourage participants to disclose information about difficult situations they may have faced that are relevant to the course/workshop you are facilitating. It also enables positive experiences to be shared.

The icebreaker can be adapted to almost any topic, including for example, customer service, appraisals, negotiation skills and recruitment.

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Postcard Review - Post-Training Review
15
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Postcard Review - Post-Training Review

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 10 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 15 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To provide a memorable review of training participants have received.
• To remind participants of key learning points or action points from a course or workshop.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
A selection of picture postcards - one postcard per participant, and a few spare ones.

Select postcards with a variety of images: Countryside, coastal, historic buildings, modes of transport, animals etc.

Notes:
This exercise was developed from an idea submitted by Barbara Buffton. Barbara Buffton is an international training consultant, performance coach and published author. Much of her experience (and her clients keep coming back for more) is with large multi-national companies. She has had four books published, including The Which? Guide to Choosing a Career (1998).

Her most recent book, Follow Your Dream, is available from http://www.bookshaker.com/product_info.php?products_id=134

Contact Barbara on info@bbassociates.freeserve.co.uk

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Sweet Review - A Simple Review/Preview Exercise
20
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Sweet Review - A Simple Review/Preview Exercise

Time:
This exercise will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 20 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To encourage participants to review learning.
• To encourage transfer and personal application of learning.
• To check understanding.
• To agree any changes to a training agenda.
• To check that participants’ objectives are being met.

Group Sizes:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to about 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
For this exercise you will need sweets of various colours – enough sweets for each person to take at least two. Avoid using nut-based sweets (e.g., Peanut M&Ms) due to the risk of allergy.

Notes:
This exercise provides a simple, fun and totally random way of reviewing learning or setting up any desired outcomes for the day ahead.

Prior to the exercise you will need to devise a different question/request for each sweet colour you have.

For example, for a review, you might use:
• Red: Tell me what was your most useful learning point from the course.
• Yellow: What one thing will you do differently as a result of being here?
• Green: Who else will you need to share your learning or ideas with for it to be successful?
• Brown: What action are you going to take tomorrow as a result of your attendance on this course?

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The Winning Post - Celebrating Goals and Objectives
30
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The Winning Post - Celebrating Goals and Objectives

Time:
The exercise in this module will take about 15 minutes to complete. In total, allowing for discussion, we recommend allowing 30 minutes to complete this module.

Aims:
• To assess progress against programme and personal objectives.
• To provide participants with an opportunity to reflect upon the impact of the training so far.
• To focus on achievement in a fun way.

Group Size:
This module is suitable for use with groups of up to 25 participants.

Useful For:
Staff at all levels.

You'll Need:
• Coloured clay or Plasticine (available to buy from Trainers' Market).
• Wet wipes.
• A camera is nice but not essential.

Notes:
This exercise is designed to be used as an energiser and to assess participants’ feelings and sense of progress in a creative and enjoyable way. It is especially suited to open-minded, creative groups and is useful on training and development programmes where participants attend over a series of separate days.

The exercise is also easily adapted for use as an icebreaker, or as part of the review process.

For the exercise you will need a selection of pots or packs of coloured modelling clay or plasticine. We also recommend that you provide wet wipes for your participants, who may get a bit messy.

If available, a camera can be used to record the results.

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