Call center training is an ever-evolving challenge for industry leaders. Agents are tasked with handling new technologies and growing customer expectations, so it’s important that they are equipped to make the best use of these new technologies and not only meet, but exceed, these high customer expectations.
Call center training comes in many shapes and sizes and new methods of coaching are being developed all the time, but the importance of proper training remains constant. A successful contact center depends on agent performance, and agents need the right training to perform. In this article, we will explore seven call center training strategies that you need to know about in 2022.
Call center training has changed. It’s not enough to onboard employees, give them a quick tutorial, and set them on their way, you have to be clever with your approach to training strategies. This means thinking of training as an ongoing process, not a one-off event at the beginning of an agent’s employment. Using a data-driven approach, you can identify skill gaps and potential areas for improvement, and use this information to design tailored training programs appropriate to each agent based on their individual level of performance and unique skill set.
Why does call center training matter? Well, as noted above, agents are the key ingredient in a successful call center, so you better make sure they’ve got the tools to do their job to the best of their ability. Particularly in 2022, as customer service channels move increasingly online, the contact center agent is more important than ever. Customer expectations have grown in the aftermath of the pandemic and agents must be ready to meet these growing expectations. In terms of morale and engagement, the right training strategies are an important factor in agent retention and career development. Training encourages both personal and professional growth, helping agents to reach their full potential. What’s more, a strong training strategy will also attract new talent who understand the value of good coaching. Ultimately, the right training strategy means happier agents and a more efficient, productive contact center.
Developing an effective call center training strategy in 2022 is about striking the right balance, and tailoring your training programs to meet the unique needs of your agents. You want them to be more productive and efficient, but you also want to reinforce the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence when it comes to agent-customer interactions. Training can cover any topic you deem necessary, the important thing is that the training is relevant to the subject, guided in an appropriate manner, and measurable for both agents and supervisors. Below, we’ll look at seven of the best approaches to call center training in 2022.
Dealing with difficult customers is par for the course in a call center. Generally speaking, customers are getting in touch because they have a complaint or an issue they want to resolve, so they may be entering the interaction in an irritable mood. This is why it’s important for call center agents to be trained and ready to deal with frustrated customers. Empathy and emotional intelligence are the basis for any agent-customer interaction, and this is particularly true for those customers who may be a little more difficult to communicate with. Agents need to engage in active listening to ensure that they understand the issue, and clearly communicate to the customer how they will find a solution. To successfully handle these interactions, agents should receive soft skills training on an ongoing basis, and remain up-to-date with their knowledge of the product or service on offer. This will guarantee that agents have the human skills to communicate with a difficult customer, and the technical knowledge to resolve any issue.
External experts can be an extremely useful resource for contact center leaders who want to bring an extra dimension to their training. An outside specialist can freshen things up and bring new knowledge to an organization. This is particularly helpful in a case where new technology or software is being implemented and agents require specialized training to get to grips with these new tools. On a human level, bringing in a fresh face will naturally spark interest and provide a break from the usual day-to-day routine, be that in the office or remotely on Zoom, Teams, Skype, etc. If contact center leaders really want to shake things up for agents, they may even consider taking the process off-site and relocating to a different location away from the office for a training day. This serves a secondary purpose of encouraging team-building through socialization and collaborative training exercises.
Scorecards are an invaluable tool for contact center managers and supervisors. Not only are they used to evaluate agent performance, monitor regulatory compliance, and prevent future problems, they can also inform training strategies. With scorecards, supervisors can identify where an agent is performing well, and where there may be room for improvement, in order to create a tailored training program based on this information. This targeted training approach is far more beneficial than blindly assigning a generic training program and, if scorecards are visible to both agents and supervisors, collaboration can be a key component of training. With this personalized approach to training, agents are far more likely to enjoy the process, increasing engagement and the likelihood of retention. A purpose-built QA platform will provide customizable scorecards, which you can tweak according to the specific needs of your organization.
As noted earlier, simply onboarding an employee and sending them on their way is no longer enough. Of course, when an agent is at the beginning of their employment, training may be more frequent or in-depth as they get to grips with their new role, but the modern call center is always evolving and agents require continuous training to stay at the top of their game. Customer expectations are constantly growing, new tools and features are being added to products and services, and, as is human nature, that initial training may fade from memory as time passes. With all this in mind, it’s clear that agents require frequent training to stay sharp and keep on top of any new developments in their working environment. Online learning platforms and self-service approaches to training are particularly useful for agents who need a tutorial on a new feature, or just a refresher of their existing knowledge.
We know that artificial intelligence is useful for automating tasks and making call centers more efficient, but it can also be a helpful training tool. Using AI, we can track conversations and provide real-time response scripting for agents, streamlining interactions with customers and ensuring that agents adhere to best practices and organizational guidelines. These scripted responses not only speed up interactions and reduce first-call resolution times, but also coach agents on how to best respond during customer interactions.
While generic training may be useful during the onboarding process, it’s important to specialize and provide targeted training if you really want an agent to perform to the best of their ability. By using scorecards and analyzing agent-customer interactions, contact center leaders can identify skill gaps and potential areas for improvement for each and every agent. Using this personalized information, supervisors can then create tailored training programs for agents based on their unique strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, through ongoing use of scorecard evaluations, it’s possible to track how effective the training is and make changes to your coaching strategy based on these results. This approach creates an ongoing feedback loop to further refine training and provide agents with the best coaching possible.
Collaboration is key to a successful training strategy. Involving agents in the process through ongoing dialogue and transparent evaluations will make them feel more involved. If an agent can talk to their supervisor about training and give their own thoughts, they will feel more valued and engaged. Merely dictating a training plan to an agent without engaging them on a human level doesn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm for that training plan. With global dashboards and scorecards visible to both supervisors and agents, a specialized QA platform will help you create training programs founded on transparency and collaboration, boosting agent morale and increasing company-wide engagement. Collaboration can also exist on a company-customer basis, with customer feedback providing valuable insights around contact center performance which can then inform training plans and coaching strategies.
With new technologies emerging and customer expectations growing, it’s vital that contact center leaders develop a forward-thinking training strategy to keep up with these evolving demands. A successful contact center needs agents performing at their very best, and this requires ongoing, targeted training. With a one-stop quality assurance platform like Scorebuddy, supervisors can create data-driven training plans tailored to the specific strengths and weaknesses of each agent. Scorebuddy’s inbuilt learning management system and highly-customizable scorecard builder provide the basis for a continuous, collaborative training approach with input from both supervisors and agents. To learn how it all works, request a free demo today.
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