The contact center can be a high-pressure environment. Customers want quick answers, efficient resolutions, and impeccable service—and agents are expected to deliver every time. How do you keep your team happy and productive? Effective call center training.
With 93 percent of service teams agreeing that customer expectations are higher than ever, you need to keep pace with these growing demands. By establishing a strong training program, you can not only meet, but exceed, these growing expectations.
Let’s look at what you should—and shouldn’t—do to develop an effective call center training strategy.
Call center training is anything that teaches agents the skills and behaviors necessary to provide excellent customer service and succeed in their role. It can take many forms, but it’s always about preparing agents for the situations they will encounter on the job.
Typical areas for agent training include call handling techniques, customer service tips, product knowledge, soft skills, sales, and more. It gives management an opportunity to align agents with broader organizational aims.
Training should help agents understand why their role matters, how they can hit their targets, and what supports are available. Modern call center training programs include everything from one-on-one, in-person sessions to self-paced online courses.
Contact center training can be the difference between success and failure. Agents are at the heart of everything you do, so it’s essential that you get them firing on all cylinders if you want to provide good customer service and positive experiences on a consistent basis.
Effective call center training can improve agent performance and engagement, boost KPIs like CSAT and NPS, and even cement long-term customer loyalty. Let’s examine some of the key benefits of top-notch training.
Improving productivity has a positive knock-on effect for every aspect of your call center. If agents are more efficient, customers spend less time in the call queue and get their issues resolved quicker. This means happier customers and more cost-effective operations.
By training agents in typical scenarios and equipping with them the skills to handle any call, you’ll see significant gains in productivity. Whatever time you invest in training will more than pay itself back in the long run.
Every agent, whether they’re a new hire or an experienced customer service rep, has the capacity to improve their skill set. By using tools like scorecards and AI analytics, you can easily identify skill gaps for individual agents and deliver targeted training.
If your QA reporting uncovers a pattern of poor conflict resolution for Agent A, you may want to focus on soft skills training. If Agent B is falling short when it comes to upselling, perhaps you could assign a mentor from the sales team to share some tips.
The impact of training goes beyond numbers. Thoughtful training practices can foster more collaborative relationships between team members—and even between call center agents and management.
Group exercises and workshops can improve teamwork, while regular training opens up new lines of communication between supervisors and agents. You can also use training as an opportunity to build trust with agents by giving them visibility into company goals.
Over 50 percent of CX leaders say that recruiting and retaining talent is their top challenge. Given the challenges of working in a high-pressure environment, this is no surprise. In fact, 96 percent of reps admit to feeling acute stress at least once a week.
Through effective training, you can equip your employees with the tools and skills they need to meet any challenge with confidence. Furthermore, 76 percent of agents say they’re more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous learning and development.
With fines for PCI violations ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per month, it’s essential that you keep your organization compliant. It’s not just the financial aspect either, a regulatory lapse could do significant damage to your brand image.
Training can help to promote awareness of these regulations, ensuring that agents know what is expected and how to comply. You can use QA scorecards to monitor employee adherence, and prioritize compliance training for those in danger of noncompliance.
88 percent of customers believe that the experience a company provides is just as important as the products or services it offers. Without adequate training, your agents will not be equipped to provide a satisfactory customer experience.
Training exercises like role plays give agents the skills they need to deliver seamless interactions and accurate information. They can resolve queries faster, show more empathy, and build a rapport that makes customers feel valued and satisfied.
On a similar note, if agents are delivering exceptional CX on a consistent basis, customers will be more likely to stick around. In fact, customers are 2.4 times more likely to stay loyal to a company that solves their problems quickly.
Training can facilitate these quick resolutions. Using practice scenarios and call recordings, you can prepare your reps for any possible query. Then, when they face the situation for real, they will be able to handle it in a way that delights the customer.
Call centers staff are often judged on KPIs. When it comes down to it, the C-suite and executive management team want to see strong performance for metrics like average handle time and service level.
Thankfully, the training outcomes noted above feed directly into KPIs. If your CX improves, it will be reflected in your customer satisfaction score and Net Promoter Score. Likewise, increased productivity will reduce average time in queue and boost first call resolution.
Your agents are your most important resource. If you can get them performing at their peak on a regular basis, it could result in significant cost savings. More efficient agents delivering quicker resolutions mean a lower average cost per call and a healthier bottom line.
Additionally, improved agent retention resulting from better training can also lead to big savings. With the average cost of turning over a single rep coming to $14,113, reducing churn is extremely valuable.
There are several different providers you can choose to deliver call center training. Your unique needs will dictate the best option but, generally speaking, it’s a good idea to mix it up and keep things fresh so agents stay engaged.
Some training providers are inside your own organization. These are typically experienced employees with strong knowledge of your products, services and culture, so they’re useful for delivering training that is highly specific to your company.
Bringing in an outside expert can add a new voice and fresh knowledge, making the learning process more engaging for agents. These external providers may also offer certifications that add a sense of credibility and professionalism to the process.
Many industry associations, like the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and Contact Center Association provide training for members. Often this comes in the form of intensive one-day courses, but it could also be a webinar, workshop, or even a conference.
Leveraging the varied expertise in your company is another approach. You can choose employees at similar levels of seniority, with different skill sets, and assign them as peer mentors. This can help establish supportive relationships and improve company culture.
You can also draft in top performers and experts from other departments to train the customer support team. If you launch new software, for example, it might be useful to run a workshop led by a member of the product team to get your agents up to speed quickly.
With the recent spike in remote and hybrid working models, online learning tools are becoming increasingly popular. Training software like a learning management system can support the process with custom courses and self-paced assignments.
The benefits of training are clear to see, but you’ll only reap these rewards if you do it properly. To get the best possible results from the process, you should avoid these common call center training mistakes.
If you don’t have clear objectives, it’s difficult to measure the impact of training. It’s vital that you establish goals aligned with your wider business targets. To improve operational efficiency, for example, you may aim to reduce average handling time by 10 percent.
It’s also important that you communicate these objectives to your agents. This is key to achieving desired performance outcomes and improving engagement, with Gartner finding that lack of role and goal clarity is the biggest predictor of agent disengagement.
People have different skill sets, knowledge gaps, and learning styles—a blanket approach to training is a wasteful use of time and resources. To get the best results from your training process, you need to tailor your approach for each individual agent.
Using tools like scorecards and analytics, you can identify weak spots and personalize training accordingly. An agent struggling with empathy, for example, may learn better from an in-person lesson, whereas an LMS module would suffice to learn new product specs.
Finding the ideal length for each training session is important for agent engagement and knowledge retention. If the session is too long, people begin to lose focus. If it’s too short, you won’t have enough time for the information to sink in.
The optimal length will depend on the complexity of the material, the employee’s experience, and more. If you’re onboarding a new agent, for example, you don’t want to overwhelm them with a ton of information in one go. Breaking it down into chunks may work better.
Training is much more likely to make an impact if you can link it to real-world scenarios. If your training sessions don’t reflect the actual challenges agents face in their day-to-day, it may not equip them with the skills to handle real customer interactions.
By using role plays, simulations, and practice scenarios, you can prepare your employees for any situation. This is especially useful if you want to get your team ready for more difficult customer queries.
If you don’t establish a clear link between contact center training and your KPIs, you won’t see the results you want. At the end of the day, performance is measured in KPIs, so it’s important that your training is specifically targeted to improve those numbers.
You can use QA reporting tools to identify weak KPIs and track the impact of your training on those target call center metrics. It’s also important that you make this link clear to agents, so they can understand why training matters for their job performance.
While the importance of KPIs is clear, you shouldn’t forget other areas that influence the overall success of your call center. Soft skills like active listening, clear communication, and problem-solving are essential to delivering a positive customer experience.
Soft skills training can significantly improve conflict resolution by equipping agents with the skill set to handle agitated customers. If you can cultivate emotional intelligence in your agents, you’ll see the results in your customer retention numbers.
Rapid advancements in contact center technology in recent years have given call center leaders access to a huge range of training resources and tools. You can use webinars, online courses, call recording software, and more to deliver any type of training at any time.
With 85 percent of agents eager to work from home on a full-time basis, it’s vital that you leverage technology to train these remote agents. If you have a learning management system, you can create bespoke courses tailored to remote agents in your organization.
While it’s important to provide feedback to your employees, both positive and constructive, you should also allow agents to share their opinions on the training process. If it’s a one-way street, they may feel criticized and lose interest.
You can request feedback via online forms, end-of-program quizzes, training surveys, and more. In doing so, you’ll improve engagement and make your agents feel valued. This feedback can also give you vital insights into how you could improve the process.
Training isn’t a set-and-forget situation. You need to monitor its impact and determine whether or not a change of strategy is required. If you don’t track progress, how can you know what’s working and what isn’t?
Post-training monitoring is also important for agents on an individual basis. Follow-up tasks and assessments help to reinforce the benefits of training and improve knowledge retention. You can use an LMS to create learning paths and assign these follow-up materials.
To get the best results from training, it needs to be an ongoing process. You should encourage your agents to update their knowledge regularly and apply their learnings to everyday tasks.
You also need to update your training materials on a regular basis. Changing technology, new products, and industry trends mean that your training will become outdated quickly if you fail to keep up.
Effective training can have a positive short- and long-term impact on pretty much every aspect of your call center, from productivity and compliance to customer experience and cost efficiency. However, you’ll only see these results if you avoid the common training mistakes we’ve discussed.
With Scorebuddy, you can leverage call center quality assurance tools and a fully featured learning management system to get the most from your training process. Identify agent weak spots with custom scorecards and our QA business intelligence solution, then build personalized training programs with our new integrated coaching tool
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