Training your call center agents involves building skills your representatives will deploy to provide exceptional customer service and support for internal staff. Providing high-level service demands outstanding soft skills. This is especially true for communication skills such as active listening, conflict resolution skills, and the ability to effectively convey oral and written messages.
An ideal training program ensures call center agents know what to expect during their work day and how to use available technology to provide effective solutions efficiently across a wide range of inquiries.
Call center managers have the responsibility to ensure training sessions include opportunities to practice using the new skills learned. The contact center is often the only human connection consumers have with a brand. Therefore, team members must understand the company culture and core values to enhance the customer experience and build brand loyalty.
There are many methods for training new agents before they are put on the front line, answering calls, and working hard to meet or exceed customer expectations. The best method for training your new agents and helping them maintain their skills, as you add new technology or expand your product line, depends on the size and nature of your business. What works best for a medical center may not be appropriate for an e-commerce entity. However, no matter what size or type of business you run, training for all agents should use the same methods consistently to ensure your team is all operating under the same standards.
This article provides call center training tips and explains some of the benefits for contact center workers and their employers.
To ensure stellar performance, your call center agents need to know what is expected of them and how to correctly perform all tasks associated with their position. Poorly trained contact center reps will not possess the know-how to help customers with product usage questions or to provide assistance quickly. This ultimately leads to both employees and callers becoming frustrated. Disappointed callers could lead to lost sales. Additionally, the agent's inability to maintain control in a call setting causes remote work dissatisfaction. Ultimately, this can lead to lower employee engagement levels which is a large factor in the current practice of quiet quitting.
Offering in-depth training for new hires will help you maintain high retention rates and improve customer service, resulting in lower operating costs and higher profit potential.
Today, many call centers use remote working arrangements to staff their contact center. The pandemic transformed the way businesses operate. These changes made it possible for call center agents to work remotely from their private home offices. It is vital to realize that remote workers need the same skills and knowledge to effectively serve customers. Professional development, such as training materials, classes, online training sessions, and video conferencing must be consistently offered throughout the customer service department. This ensures customer needs continue to be met and employee engagement remains high.
Consider the following benefits for businesses and their call center employees.
The Society for Resource Management (SHRM) benchmark metrics show that the average cost of hiring a new employee is roughly $4,700. However, your costs could be higher or lower, depending on your geographical location, available talent, and other variables. Some talent management professionals say the cost of hiring a new employee could be three to four times the position's normal salary. Keeping employees engaged and satisfied is a wise cost containment strategy. Well-trained workers tend to remain with their companies, rather than seek new positions elsewhere.
Boosting employee satisfaction rates and reducing employee turnover rates, starts with giving each customer support representative the technical skills and resources they need to succeed. An in-depth training program builds confidence and demonstrates you value your workers; two things that research shows lead to higher satisfaction levels in employees.
Identifying training needs for current workers is as vital as making sure new agents have the skills they need to wow your customers. Most employees, whether remote workers or in-house staff, want to know they have opportunities to grow within an organization. Back office metrics allow business leaders to identify workers who consistently meet or exceed benchmarks and reward them with bonuses, raises, or promotions.
High-level service means that every caller gets exceptional service. This happens when the agent answering the call knows how to perform their job well, and can meet the needs of customers quickly and efficiently.
All of the benefits for employees translate into higher profit potential for the companies that employ them. Better training and consistency, empower brands to improve consumer loyalty, generate higher reorder volume, and encourage word-of-mouth referrals. These three benefits mean your business positions itself to grow existing and new revenue streams, resulting in higher profits.
Training methods for call center agents vary widely among businesses. The training process that works best for you will depend on your workforce and your business goals. The ideal training method will incorporate hands-on practice that allows call center staff to apply their new knowledge and skills.
Frequent training sessions reinforce knowledge gained during video conferences, self-guided instruction, and goal-setting activities.
Below are 10 training methods used with call center staff working on-site or remotely.
Establishing clear goals and objectives for your call center gives employees the guidance necessary to achieve benchmarks. Unless you tell your employees what is expected of them, and give them the resources they need to meet those expectations, you cannot expect your call center to deliver exceptional customer service.
Have a training plan in place for every employee. Offering standard knowledge-based instruction ensures all new employees are operating with the same goals and objectives. Consistency in the call center is the best gift you can give your customers. When you incorporate in-depth training during the onboarding process, you provide employees with the skills they need to succeed. And, when they succeed, your company succeeds.
Having well-established communication skills is very important—especially for call center agents. Answering live calls means that your agents won’t know beforehand if they will assist a caller who is making a general inquiry, calling with a complaint, or having a great day, or a lousy one. Customer calls have the potential to be uplifting, exhausting, or routine. At the bare minimum, every contact center training program should have instructions that enhance active listening skills. Superb listening skills, paired with a professional tone can turn a previously negative customer experience into a positive customer interaction.
Ongoing training is vital for veteran call center workers as well as new agents. Anytime you upgrade technology, you'll need to have a training session to update technical training skills as well. Your call center training program may include elearning sessions, video conferences, or in-person courses. Some call centers record calls as a training tool – this tactic can identify exceptional agents as well as those with learning gaps that need more intensive training to get up to speed.
Some people are visual learners, while others learn new information easier with social learning techniques, solitary learning techniques, or auditory techniques. Some will retain new knowledge by studying alone, while others need peer interaction to build competencies. When designing a training program, consider these differences and ask your new hires what type of learning style they prefer.
Offering real-time feedback during training sessions is an excellent tool to help call center staff expand their knowledge base. Just being told your tone is wrong is not as beneficial as showing the correct tone and voice to use through role-playing. Role-play is a great way to teach agents how and how not to interact with a caller that is angry or frustrated.
Shadowing involves partnering a new agent with a veteran call center worker during customer interactions during onboarding. This training method allows the new worker to get hands-on experience in a safe environment where the supervisor is there to help should questions arise.
Call recording along with back-office performance metrics (KPIs) can be used to monitor individual contact center representatives' performance. The insights gained will help businesses develop training programs that improve individual and overall call center performance. Monitoring agent performance is a great way to ensure your callers receive high-level service and that your employees who deserve recognition are rewarded for their efforts.
Online training is critical today. Online technology and communications are often self-guided and may include gamification elements that workers are familiar with. A University of Colorado engagement study showed that skill-based knowledge assessment scores improved by 14% when training included simulation and/or gamification elements. In another study, workers reported that they would be more productive and motivated if their training sessions were more like a game. Completing online training could offer workers points for completing elearning modules that could cash in for prizes or bonuses.
Companies that offer online training should have the resources in place to allow employees to complete training on the clock and whenever else it is convenient. Online training tools can also help employees find the correct response when they encounter a new problem or situation during a client call.
Call center agent training benefits contact center agents and the companies they work for. Creating a positive customer experience for every caller is critical. Confidence comes from having clearly defined goals and objectives, along with the skills and resources necessary to achieve those benchmarks.
Whether your workforce is a small remote call center or a large corporation with dozens of call center agents; it is important to provide training in call center software and soft skill development. An organization may use mentoring and shadowing to help agents gain hands-on experience. Center employees may also have access to online training tools to develop technical skills, or self-guided learning options to enhance their knowledge.
Most importantly, you must invest time and effort to give your call center agents the tools and resources they need to meet or exceed customer expectations. If your goal is to elevate customer satisfaction levels, start by creating a training course with well-developed policies that demonstrate that you value and support your workers fielding these calls. Stand behind your team, and they will provide the best customer service possible.
The correct training program begins with the onboarding process and continues throughout a call center agent's career. Training programs help companies allocate human resources wisely and create opportunities to grow existing revenue streams and generate new ones. Recruiting and keeping high-quality talent is important in today's competitive marketplace.
If you're considering contracting with an outsourced call center or looking for a new agency that aligns with your customer services goals, TDSGS can help. Our expertise is in helping companies like yours find the best outsourcing partner. Reach out to us today to discuss how we can help you evaluate potential off-site call centers and ensure your training program is the best it can be.