Call center training is critical to high-quality customer experience. In fact, it’s among the most important strategies you can employ to ensure excellent customer service, gain customer trust, and increase brand loyalty. Our call center training guide will equip you with what you need to provide call center training that meets the high expectations and increasing demands of your customers.
We’ll cover the importance and return on investment (ROI) of call center training, the three elements of a successful call center training program, tips for agent training, and how to track your program for success. By the end, you should be able to walk away from our call center training guide with what you need to know to implement and deliver an effective call center training program, either in-person and/or remotely.
The Importance and ROI of Call Center Training
According to a 2019 Salesforce Customer Service Trends report, the #1 service challenge that companies face is keeping up with customer expectations. And four out of five customers say their experience is as important as the products they purchase.
To meet the needs of today’s customers, who are smarter, more skeptical, and have higher expectations than ever before, you need call center training.
What is Call Center Agent Training?
Call center training is how you help your agents achieve their full potential and provide your customers with the experience they expect. When done well, training boosts your call center performance and drives employee efficiency. It’s also how you fill in knowledge gaps and help your agents master the skills (soft and hard) that they need to do their jobs.
Call center agent training should go far beyond one-time onboarding that teaches your agents how to answer phones, use your customer service system, and record customer information. It’s a continuous process that focuses on educating your team on everything from product or service details, compliance, answering complex questions, solving customer problems, soft skills; all meant to improve agent performance and overall customer satisfaction.
The key is to make your training program relevant, guided, and measurable for effectiveness. It needs to empower your agents to take charge of their career development and identify core problems and learning gaps to improve problematic behavior and detect negative trends.
The good news is that your employees want high-quality training.
Why is Training Important in the Call Center
According to long-term research from Middlesex University, 74% of workers feel that a lack of development opportunities have kept them from reaching their full potential at work. By developing a robust call center training program, you can better attract and retain top talent while ensuring that your agents are always strengthening their skills and remaining engaged in the workplace.
As for customer satisfaction, the importance of call center training cannot be overstated. It is critical for providing an exceptional customer experience. It’s how you teach your agents to effectively and efficiently:
• Answer customer questions,
• Demonstrate empathy and sensitivity to concerns,
• Attend to calls, emails, and chats,
• Develop a comprehensive data and knowledge base,
• And meet customer expectations during every interaction.
If you want your call center employees to achieve their full potential, you need customer service training and development. Without training, you cannot expect to offer top-notch customer service with every interaction, and you won’t be able to adequately support productivity, retention, and growth.
The ROI of Call Center Training and eLearning
In today’s competitive and time-crunched call centers, knowing the return on investment (ROI) of your call center training and eLearning program is essential. You need to know what you’re spending will help your call center perform better, grow efficiently, and ultimately add to your bottom line. So, let’s first talk about the ROI of call center training and development.
The return on investment from your call center training is holistic. It affects almost every aspect of your business and employees. When you offer training, you can expect:
• Greater employee happiness and brain health
• Increased career security for all employees
• Improved soft and hard skills
• Increased creativity in the call center
• Better opportunities for customer support
According to one report from LearnUpon, you could witness as much as 5.5% improved customer retention and 8% improved staff turnover. And when it comes to call center training, eLearning is the best choice for a large return on your investment.
Online training requires 40-60% less time than classroom training.
• The cost of an eLearner is $11 compared with $95 for a classroom learner (15% of the cost of a classroom learner)
• eLearning participants can learn up to five times more in the same time as would be in the classroom
• Knowledge retention from eLearning is five times greater than from traditional training (60% vs 10%)
• eLearners typically see a 10% improvement in their key KPIs
Call Center Training Statistics
Below are additional key call center training statistics for more reasons to offer high-quality training. You will:
• Attract Top Talent: 68% of employees say training and development is a company’s most important policy.
• Reduce Employee Turnover: 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding and training.
• Improve Employee Performance: 74% of employees don’t believe they are reaching their full potential.
• Increase Profits: Companies that invest in training earn a 24% higher profit margin.
• Earn More Revenue Per Employee: Comprehensive training programs lead to a 218% higher revenue per employee.
• Increase Productivity: For every dollar spent on eLearning, companies earn back $30 in productivity.
• Gain a Competitive Advantage: 72% of organizations believe that eLearning puts them at a competitive advantage.
Think of call center agent training as the steering on a cruise ship. It is essential to get you to your final destination, helping you course correct when there’s bad weather and always stay on target.
The Elements of a Successful Call Center Training Program
An effective call center training program is one of the more essential long-term investments you can make in your company. It is essential to meeting your goals, providing customers with the experience they expect, and developing a growth strategy.
The key to developing a successful call center training program is to:
• Implement a call center learning management system (LMS),
• Create effective call center training materials and hire the right trainers.
Here’s what that looks like:
1. Call Center Learning Management System
Only 65% of companies provide effective tools for training. This is a critical problem when it comes to teaching your call center agents what they need to know. To deliver effective and efficient call center training, you need a call center learning management system (LMS).
What is a Call Center Learning Management System?
A call center LMS offers a centralized, all-in-one training solution. It simplifies and expedites how you manage, track, and achieve your learning goals. And as an online platform, it allows you to deliver training anywhere and at any time through a mobile-friendly, blended learning experience.
As a dynamic and on-demand education environment, a call center LMS includes both self-directed and instructor-led training (ILT), allowing you to:
• Identify knowledge (training) gaps;
• Create, manage, and deliver educational courses;
• Automate and scale training programs;
• Track, document, and report on the effectiveness of your training.
How Does a Call Center LMS Improve Call Quality?
So how does a call center LMS improve call quality and the customer experience? When you provide efficient and effective training, it leads to higher productivity, better-satisfied customers, and positively impacts your organization’s success.
In particular, a call center LMS improves call quality outcomes by:
• Helping you track, score, analyze, and improve your QA metrics. You can see how well your training is working while accessing details about agent performance, skills, knowledge, and resources.
• Improving employee retention. An LMS creates a central repository for all training so that your call center agents can keep their education records up-to-date. This encourages loyalty to your company and incentivizes agents to remain with your company.
• Addressing learning/skill gaps. An LMS can help to ensure that your call center training directly addresses your organization’s goals, resources, and the individual’s needs. You can conduct routine performance reviews to identify competence gaps and fill in those gaps with product and service knowledge, soft skills training, compliance training, etc.
• Incentivizing and rewarding agent improvements. For the best call quality outcomes, your agents need to seek continuous improvement. This means you need to make learning fun, interesting, and worthwhile. A call center LMS can gamify the training process and help you set clear education goals and milestones—with badges and points to earn along the way.
And for remote call center setups, a call center LMS is especially helpful when it comes to providing on-demand training anywhere and at any time. It offers a highly flexible approach to learning that’s based on your agents’ schedules and needs. There’s even a blended learning model that mixes instructor-led training via webinars and online courseware.
Benefits of Using an LMS for Call Center Training
Ultimately, your call center LMS should help you save time by automating and eliminating repetitive administrative tasks when it comes to training. It should offer a learner-friendly environment that drastically improves how your agents are trained.
A few benefits of using an LMS for call center training include:
• Highly specific training per employee: An LMS can be customized to each learner’s needs through courses and learning paths specific to their unique skills and knowledge.
• More engaged and loyal employees: Agents who receive regular training not only become more engaged within the workplace, but they are less likely to leave your company for another position.
• Increased customer satisfaction: Well trained call center agents are better at assisting customers, demonstrating empathy, handling customer complaints, and remaining compliant.
• Simplified remote learning options. An LMS helps you create an effective virtual classroom that helps you share knowledge and information anywhere and at any time.
• Cost-effective training. With an LMS, you can train hundreds or even thousands of employees at one time. Training occurs in a blended learning environment that’s both online and instructor-led, so you spend less money and time for more fluid training.
When you invest in a high-quality call center learning management system, there are countless enhancements for your business, ultimately leading to increased productivity and higher profits. The key is to choose the right cutting-edge contact center LMS.
How to Choose the Right LMS for Your Call Center
The right LMS for your call center has certain powerful features. As an all-in-one solution, it has to go above and beyond developing and delivering basic training to truly empower your agents. A few key features to look for in an LMS provider include the ability to:
Manage your courses without technical expertise.
• Test learners’ knowledge through exams and surveys.
• Offer a mix of instructor-led training and self-driven lessons.
• Certify successful learners automatically.
• Create portals to train multiple audiences at once.
• Encourage conversations and social learning.
• Engage learners through gamification.
• Gain insights through actionable reports.
• Automate and scale training through integrations with other call center software (such as Scorebuddy scorecards).
• Streamline training through automated workflows.
So, how do you choose the right LMS for your call center? There are a few questions you need to ask each software provider before you make your choice.
• How does the system handle course management? Is it easy to add content to courses and create content in a variety of formats?
• How does the LMS handle user management? Can you create user roles, assign groups, and organize users into segments for easy task delegation and automated course enrollment?
• Does the training software have an intuitive user interface? Can you upload and download SCORM and xAPI files?
• How is training delivered? Is there the ability to offer a blended learning experience with a mix of instructor-led training and online courses?
• Can you gamify the learning experience? Is there an easy way to engage learners by recognizing achievements and setting goals and milestones?
• Can you schedule exams to test learners? Is there a way to certify users after course completion and test their knowledge with exams?
• Does the LMS offer insightful and actionable reports? Can you track user progression and learning results with survey responses, training histories, and reports
• How does the LMS integrate with everything else? Can you eliminate repetitive tasks by integrating your training with other essential call center systems?
Think of your call center LMS as an engine that powers eLearning. It should make life easier when it comes to training, but that’s only if you deploy the right LMS for your business.
Scorebuddy’s LMSTM is easy-to-use and helps contact center managers and quality assurance managers deliver effective and accurate call center training. It’s learning as it should be—powerful and fully integrated into contact center quality and customer sentiment.
2. Call Center Training Materials
Call center training is only as effective as your training materials. And since training is the #3 priority for contact centers, these materials play a crucial role in your success.
You need a library of call center training material that caters to a variety of training requirements. All content should line up with your company’s objectives and cover essential tools, techniques, and aspects of each agent’s job.
The Importance of Training Materials for Call Center Agents
Your call center training materials, courses and course content, are the core of your entire training program. If they’re not compelling, useful, and well constructed, your training won’t be effective.
You need training materials that provide information to be used in day-to-day work. It should be inspiring, interesting, and up-to-date. Otherwise, only 13% of your employees will apply their newfound knowledge, and only 2% of your employees will be engaged in the learning process.
To ensure smooth sailing with your call center training materials means focusing on items that:
• Minimize human error
• Encourage consistency
• Addresses skill and competence gaps
• Develop agent confidence
• Improve customer service
Tips for Developing Training Materials for Call Center Agents
Developing training materials for call center agents is an ever-evolving process. It requires you to conduct routine performance reviews to reveal everything from best practices to processes, soft skills, and compliance. Not only do you need basic materials for introductory training, but you also need expert materials for more experienced staff and management.. The good news is that you probably already have a good bit of your training materials already developed.
So how do you get started? You have to be diligent in matching training materials for call center agents to your goals. Here’s what that looks like.
Start with Your Learning Objectives
Before you create or gather any training materials, start with your learning objectives. What do you need to teach your call center agents, and what goals do you have?
Develop a detailed game plan that outlines all of the ground you need to cover in your call center training. Then, develop a list of call center training materials by breaking down your learning objectives into:
• Business-critical objectives to deal with your company’s procedures and meeting company goals.
• Customer-critical objectives to deal with the customer experience and enhancing how your customers feel after interacting with your agents.
• Process-critical objectives that are concerned with agent performance, compliance, and agent-specific goals.
• Determine Your Delivery Methods
Training materials for call center agents don’t only have to be documents like your call center script. You can create and deliver content in a wide variety of ways. For example, there are:
• Written training manuals
• Online tests
• Live webinars
• Slide decks
• In-person training
And blended learning options
There’s no right choice for any type of call center training. Every agent learns differently and will find a particular delivery method more effective for them. That’s why you should offer multiple delivery methods whenever possible.
Organize Your Training Information
If you try to create all your call center training materials at once, you’re going to miss something or cover something multiple times. Instead, it’s easier to start with an outline that segments your training materials into knowledge databases that are either job or task-based.
For example, you can break up your training materials for your call center agents by job (sales, customer service, tech support, etc.) or task (calling, prospecting, team communication, sales techniques, etc.). The key is to organize your content in a way that is most useful to your employees and fills in the most knowledge gaps.
Don’t Forget Cross-Training
Cross-training takes your call center agents out of their usual environment and offers training in different departments that are impacted by customer service. It’s one of the most effective ways to improve individual and team performance.
When creating cross-training materials for your call center agents, focus on the most transferable skills and information. This is your opportunity to create content that delves into your business as a whole and the role of your call center agents’ within that.
Refresh and Update Your Materials Regularly
All of your training materials for call center agents should be continually refreshed and based on current and emerging industry trends. You’ll need to regularly assess the materials you’ve created to ensure that they are effective at educating your team.
This means using software or tools that allow you to successfully review learning modules and learners. If anything doesn’t seem to be working during your assessment, then it’s time to update your training materials for better results.
Invest in Call Center Agent Training Videos
While in-person training and LIVE webinars are some of the best ways to deliver training, it is not always possible. It can be expensive and difficult to set up training that everyone can attend at one time. In fact, 85% of every dollar is spent on delivering training. That’s why call center agent training videos are invaluable.
Not only are training videos a cost-effective way to invest in education, but they are also great for engagement. 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than read a document. And best yet, training videos increase retention to 65% from just 35%.
Videos also allow you to be more versatile in your call center training. You can record and share a simple Vlog or get more creative with animated videos, white-board discussions, and even live-action story-focused videos. It’s completely up to you and how interactive and engaging you need/want your call center training videos to be.
3. Every Call Center Training Program Needs the Right Trainer
While your call center training materials are important, how those materials are delivered is just as essential. You need a call center trainer with the right skills to deliver effective training.
When you hire the right call center trainer, the results speak for themselves:
• 114% higher sales
• 70% lower turnover
• 71% higher customer satisfaction
• 90% lower absenteeism
So, let’s take a look at the call center trainer's duties and qualities you need for success.
Call Center Trainer Duties & Responsibilities
A call center trainer is responsible for establishing your education goals based on their extensive knowledge of your call center’s services, products, and troubleshooting. They should be exceptional communicators that are also highly detail-oriented. It’s their deep understanding of customers, agents, and outstanding customer service that will help you achieve your learning goals.
In the end, your call center trainer should increase productivity, maximize efficiency, improve customer experience, and promote cost-effectiveness. They should be able to look at the big picture, analyze data, and adjust the learning process to achieve their objectives.
These are some of the top call center trainer duties:
• Develop contact center learning objectives and goals.
• Monitor agent processes for knowledge and skill gaps.
• Train and coach contact center agents/representatives in their day-to-day jobs.
• Motivate employees to improve performance and increase productivity.
• Guide agents through difficult issues, angry customers, and complaints.
• Set agent expectations in regard to learning best practices.
• Provide appropriate educational tools, technology, and resources.
• Analyze contact center statistics, identify contact center trends, and conduct training quality assurance (QA).
• Prepare performance and KPI reports for upper management.
The Qualities of a Good Trainer in the Call Center
Call center trainers face many challenges that demand their attention. They have to be able to teach agents a little bit of everything, covering topics such as customer experience, productivity, communication, and emotional intelligence. This means they need to be well-rounded individuals that possess many skills pivotal to success.
Some of the most critical qualities of a good trainer in the call center include:
- Customer Service: Call center trainers are directly responsible for teaching what it takes to handle customer inquiries, complaints, and solve problems.
- Empowerment: The best trainers are trusted by agents, engaged in driving success, and know-how to empower others.
- Data Analysis: A successful trainer must be able to track employee performance, identify issues, and adjust learning processes to ensure success.
- Effective Communicator: Communication is critical if you want your trainer to inspire, motivate, and persuade your call center agents.
- Problem-Solving: Trainers must be able to keep a level head during conflict to reduce problems and solve issues as they arise.
- Emotional Intelligence: Call center trainers must be able to create a positive learning culture through empathy and likability.
- Technologically Advanced: Your call center trainer should be able to stay on top of the latest advances in technology and implement new tools as needed.
Being a successful call center trainer is not easy, but it is essential to get it right. The key is to equip your call center trainers with the right tools, skills, and resources they need to handle every situation. It’s about creating a solid foundation for your call center training so you can meet any challenges head-on.
Call Center Training Tips
Once you have a learning management system in place, the call center training materials you need, and you’ve hired the right call center trainer, now what? If you want to provide your customers with the experience they expect and deserve, you need to implement our call center training tips.
These tips cover everything from soft skills training to compliance training, sales training, technology training, engaging training, and remote training. It’s all about giving your agents the development opportunities they need to achieve their full potential.
Soft Skills Training Tips
Soft skills are one of the foremost predictors of employee success and performance. According to research, 85% of long-term job success depends on soft skills, while only 25% rely on technical knowledge. That’s because soft skills are complex to master and essential for interacting and communicating at all levels.
The key to soft skills training for call center agents is to first identify the soft skills most critical to success. Then, once you identify those skills and characteristics, you have to create a soft skills training plan.
What are Soft Skills?
When figuring out agent soft skills, you have to look at those innate characteristics that are most critical for quality customer service. You also need to look at those factors that are responsible for creating engaged agents who communicate well. This is in contrast to “hard skills,” which more directly relate to call center agent knowledge—such as operating a computer.
So, what soft skills do your call center agents need most? It highly depends on the role of your call center, the culture of your workplace, and the needs of your customers. However, there are a few overarching soft skills that almost every call center agent needs.
Soft skills training for call center agents should include the ability to:
• Communicate: Call center agents spend most of their time talking to people. They need to be able to discuss complex information and present the company’s core message.
• Learn: Agents need to be able to learn new scripts, products, and technology.
• Demonstrate Empathy/Emotional Intelligence: Agents must be able to empathize with customers, understand emotional cues, and diffuse difficult situations that are emotionally charged.
• Meet Goals: Call centers are numbers-driven, and agents need to be able to internalize goals to meet or exceed them.
• Work in a Structured Environment: Agents must be able to handle routine on a daily basis and not be challenged by a lack of creativity.
• Find Answers: Agents cannot always stick to scripts; they must be able to ask questions and find answers to accomplish their objectives.
• Be Flexible: Agents must be able to react appropriately in any given situation; it’s all about adaptability.
• Problem Solve: Your agents must be able to think critically to solve problems and resolve conflicts.
Tips for Soft Skills Training for Call Center Agents
Soft skills training for call center agents doesn’t just magically happen. You have to create a development plan that lays the groundwork for soft skills training. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Take a Blended-Learning Approach: Both self-study and LIVE training are critical to learning soft skills. With self-study, your call center agents can slowly learn soft skills through videos, articles, and interactive quizzes that they can complete on their schedule. With LIVE training, agents have an opportunity to put their soft skills to the test with immediate feedback, role-playing, and group practice.
2. Create a Clear Soft Skills Training Structure: Make learning soft skills feel valuable and desirable by presenting it as a way to grow, not something that’s remedial. Learning soft skills needs to be seen as beneficial, or agents will feel patronized.
3. Evaluate Each Agent: Not every agent will need the same soft skills training program. Create individual learning goals and track progress through an LMS.
4. Set Call Center Goals: There will be trends within the call center that reveal critical soft skills. Match your soft skills training for call center agents up with these overarching goals, so your efforts match up to actual improvement.
5. Provide Time for Reflection: Self-reflection is critical for soft skills training. Agents need time to process what they learn and apply it to their daily activities.
6. Implement Regular Soft Skills Exercises: To learn soft skills, agents need the opportunity to practice what they learn in a safe and forgiving environment. Encourage role-playing and discussions on a monthly basis.
Call Center Compliance Training
Call center regulatory compliance can impact every level of your business. Customer privacy and data safety concerns everyone. And since your call center exchanges sensitive information thousands of times a day, compliance is critical to not just your success but your company’s continued existence.
Unfortunately, few call centers are correctly set up to handle all of your regulatory compliance concerns. In fact, according to a survey by NICE, 99% of organizations admit they could improve their compliance tools and software, and 96% admit their IT teams face challenges when it comes to contact center compliance.
The good news is that you can make call center compliance a high priority with the right systems and training in place.
The Importance of Compliance Training
First, let’s take a look at the importance of call center compliance training. Without it, you leave your company open to financial and reputational risks in the form of fines and data breaches. For telemarketing company Infocision, a lack of compliance resulted in a $250,000 fine by the Federal Trade Association.
And they’re not alone. A ten-year-long research study conducted by Verizon revealed that no company is fully PCI DDS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant. What this means is that most organizations are vulnerable to data breaches and financial attacks that can cost, on average, $4 million.
So while many contact centers strive to be compliant, they typically do not have the necessary stringent policies and procedures in place to protect them on every level. That’s where call center compliance training comes into play.
Tips for Call Center Compliance Training
To help your call center meet regulatory compliance standards, there are quite a few things that your company needs to keep in mind.
Know All Call Center Compliance and Regulatory Mandates: Your call center must embrace compliance standards beyond PCI, and those standards can vary greatly depending on your industry. A few regulations to consider include:
• Fair Debt Collection Practice Act
• General Data Protection Regulation
• Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Implement Regulatory Compliance Tools and Software: To ensure call center compliance, implement tools such as call recording software and QA scorecards. These tools will help you look for at-risk situations, meet regulatory standards, and deal with any breaches immediately.
Create a Vulnerability Management and Information Security Policy: This program will outline the key elements of regulatory compliance that need to be communicated in your call center compliance training. It should cover everything, including:
• How your company keeps sensitive information stored behind robust firewalls.
• How call center agents are allowed to record customer information—with encrypted systems and not written down on paper.
• How your software and applications are protected by anti-virus software.
• When, why, and how agents are allowed to access cardholder information.
• The type of language agents must use (calm and nonviolent) when speaking to customers.
• When and how to gain customer consent during interactions.
The key to effective call center compliance training is to take into account the unique nature of your company. Your employees need to clearly understand all of your compliance and security policies and go into every customer interaction with security as their top priority.
If you can get the importance of compliance across to your agents, you can protect your valuable data, address any privacy concerns, and spot compliance errors as they happen.
Call Center Inbound Sales Training
Call center training doesn’t begin and end with quality customer service. While that is one of the most visible ways to stand out as a brand, the next step is to transform outstanding customer experience (CX) into sales.
Best-in-class call centers focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences and driving more sales. It’s about gaining the greatest lifetime value from your customers and uncovering their vast revenue potential.
Happy customers are more likely to make a purchase and pay more for that purchase, so call center inbound sales training that focuses on the buyer journey is critical.
Why All Agents Should be Trained in Sales
To drive sales and increase revenue, your call center agents have to go above and beyond helping customers. They have to also be great sales representatives that create “WOW moments” to inspire customer trust and customer satisfaction.
If you build a team of call center agents that are trained in sales, you can learn to provide true value during every customer interaction. With just a few small adjustments, your call center can be used to create opportunities to sell customers what they need—upselling products and services to enhance the customer experience. And by having call center inbound sales training, you can reduce friction and make purchasing habitual while assisting customers.
The key is to make customer service and sales inseparable. After all, when someone calls to complain about a product or ask for help, it’s the perfect opportunity to offer sales support. And since your customer service representatives have already built a rapport with customers through problem-solving, adding sales to their job only makes sense.
Tips for Teaching Inbound Sales
So, the question is, how do you teach sales to your call center agents? Is there call center sales training material that you can use to inform your training? Here are a few tips for call center inbound sales training to get you started.
• Teach Deep Knowledge of Your Products & Services: It’s critical that your call center agents completely understand your products and services. They must be up to date on all you have to offer—able to answer any and all questions, objections, and concerns.
• Take Charge of the Sales Conversation: Your call center agents should have the confidence to clearly speak about your products and services to bridge the sales gap. They must be able to make on-the-spot decisions to match products and services to the customer’s needs and wants.
• Focus on Cross-Selling: One of the easiest ways to increase inbound call center sales is to take the opportunity to explain how another of your company’s products or services can alleviate a pain point. Discuss add-ons, support packages, and upgrades to enhance the customer experience.
• Leverage Personalization: Personalize the sales experience by making product and service recommendations based on the customer’s preferences, behavior, and past interactions. The key is to make the customer feel like their needs are understood.
• Offer Helpful Recommendations: Sales can be used as an opportunity to offer solutions to a problem. Customers appreciate product recommendations that fit their situation and requirements.
• Create a Healthy Sales Competition: Sales doesn’t need to be a dog-eat-dog world, but healthy competition among your call center agents is a good idea. Offer commission-based incentives for consistent sales, and offer special prizes for weekly sales winners.
Including call center sales training material isn’t something that happens automatically. But by adapting your customer service representatives to also sell your products and services, you’ll see the increase in revenue you want.
Call Center Technology Training
Call center technology empowers your team to provide exceptional customer support and deliver world-class service. The right software helps you increase productivity, improve agent performance, and better organize and manage customer interactions. However, your call center technology is only effective if it is used correctly.
Unless you develop processes, playbooks, and standardization for implementing and using call center technology, it won’t help you in the way you want or need. The key is to know which call center tools you should use and then set rules for when and how to take advantage of them.
CRM or Service Tickets
Call center customer relationship management (CRM) software is critical to your success. It’s how you provide your agents with access to customer information and history, instantly. And it’s how your agents are able to help customers with relevant and up-to-date insight during every support experience. If you want to provide personalized and real-time customer experiences, you need a CRM.
When it comes to training, you must seamlessly integrate your CRM into your call center processes. Call center technology training should cover how to use the CRM to:
• Achieve great customer experience across every digital channel.
• Deliver a personalized customer experience.
• Gain insight into the customer journey.
• Review customer information and history immediately.
• Prioritize work and customer activities.
Unfortunately, only 65% of companies provide effective tools for training. That’s why using a learning management system (LMS) is essential. A call center LMS is how you automate the training process and simplify how you manage, track, and achieve your learning goals.
To get the most out of your LMS, your agents must be trained on how to use the technology. They should be taught how to:
• Use the software to enjoy their virtual classroom experience anywhere and at any time.
• Undergo the onboarding process and complete courses to achieve the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to shine.
• Adjust their training to their highly specific training goals for a personalized learning experience.
• Perform routine performance reviews, exams, and assessments to identify learning gaps.
• Implement gaming mechanics to the learning process for a more fun, interesting, and engaging training experience.
• Track their training progress through actionable reports and QA metrics.
Agent self-scoring is essential when it comes to employee engagement and performance management. During this process, your call center agents have an opportunity to review their own work, listen to calls, and evaluate their performance. This can have a significant impact on your agents’ understanding and awareness of their personal development.
However, agent self-scorecards only work if your agents know how to evaluate themselves honestly and openly. To do this, you need to make sure that your agents know how to use the scorecards effectively within the QA process.
Your call center technology training should include:
• Clear quality guidelines so that agents know exactly what is expected of them before they self-score.
• Management’s role in the self-score process, so that agents feel safe contributing their ideas and strategies.
• How self-scoring fits within the entire QA framework and is part of the bigger picture.
• How self-scoring is kept separate from other quality scores for a judgment-free experience.
• The way that self-scoring will be used within the training and coaching process.
Call center agents use multiple different channels to communicate with customers. If they are not trained on how to effectively communicate across phone, email, social media, live chat, etc., then the customer experience won’t be exceptional. Your agents must be taught best practices for each channel as well as how to provide an omni-channel experience that doesn’t require customers to repeat their questions across channels.
To ensure you handle your omni-channel support correctly, you need to train your agents to:
• Recognize customers as they move across channels.
• Manage, access, and act on omni-channel data in real-time.
• Collect data from all touch-points and keep it in one location for a consistent customer experience.
• Deliver consistent and authentic messaging—no matter the channel.
• Personalize the customer experience via channel-specific customer data.
• Implement planning and routing strategies to dynamically match customers to the best agent per channel.
Call Tracking Software
To optimize your call center’s performance, you should also implement call center tracking software, such as:
1. Speech Analytics, which helps you monitor calls in real-time by analyzing tone and sentiment, gauging customer emotion and satisfaction, and gathering data on agent skills and performance.
2. Text Analytics, which helps you analyze writing in the same way speech analytics measures calls.
3. Predictive Analytics, which predicts customer behaviors and identifies trends, so you can improve agent effectiveness and enhance the customer experience.
The key is to outline all call center technology training policies and procedures for success. Your call center agents and managers must know when and how to use each piece of technology for the best results.
How to Make Training Fun and Engaging
Employees love training. It’s critical to improving employee retention, employee satisfaction, and long-term employee engagement. There’s just one problem: traditional training is boring.
It’s true! Old-school learning where your employees sit in a room and listen to someone talk at them is snooze-worthy. That's why it’s important to figure out how to make call center training fun and engaging by building creativity into the process.
The good news is that there are two ways to do this: through agent rewards and recognition as well as through training games. Let’s break down what that looks like.
The Importance of Call Center Rewards & Recognition
First and foremost, if you want your training to be effective, you need to set up a program for call center rewards and recognition. Training shouldn’t be about expecting your employees to just “do their jobs.” If you want exceptional performance and agents engaged in training, you have to show your appreciation for their efforts.
According to Gallup, recognition is critical to call center employee engagement and your organization’s overall performance. So, you need to be prepared to comment on, congratulate, and formally recognize your call center agents for a job well done.
Here are some ideas for call center rewards and recognition to get you started.
• Personalize Agent Rewards and Recognition: Generic, “You did great!” comments aren’t very valuable. Instead, your praise and acknowledgment should directly reflect the individual’s performance and their exceptional work. And make sure to personalize the reward to what the agent would consider valuable if you want them to appreciate it.
• Celebrate Even Small Successes: If you correct even minor mistakes, then you can celebrate even small successes. Don’t be afraid to regularly give quick and easy praise such as, “You handled that difficult client really well,” or “Thanks for responding to that request so quickly,” or “I appreciate your enthusiasm for training.”
• Make Your Recognition Public: While private praise and encouragement of your call center agents has its place, so does public recognition. Call out your agents for a job well done during staff meetings, on social channels, in employee newsletters, and beyond.
• Match Rewards to Success: If you have a five-star agent, give them a five-star prize to match their work. A $5 gift card is not enough for an agent who has really gone above and beyond.
• Celebrate Risk-Taking, Even if it Fails: If you want your call center agents to be more innovative, you have to accept that failure will happen. Celebrate new ideas and a willingness to take risks and innovate, even if it doesn’t succeed.
• Get Employee Feedback: Ask employees how they want to be recognized and rewarded for their hard work and success. This can help you create better incentives and improve call center employee engagement.
And remember, it’s not just your top team members that deserve recognition. Your low performers should also be recognized for their improvements—no matter how small. When you are transparent and fair about how and when you recognize achievements within the call center, you’ll encourage every agent to work harder to get a piece of the pie.
Call Center Training Games to Try
Another way to encourage call center employee engagement, especially when it comes to training, is to try out some call center training games. Games offer a great way to foster teamwork, raise energy levels, and encourage skill retention—all while making training more fun.
Gamification can take many formats, including points, badges, levels, and bonuses. But you can also implement call center training games, which might seem trivial, but are a great way to make boring content far more entertaining. Some ideas include:
• Break the Ice: Give everyone on your team a chance to get to know everyone else with fun ice-breaking ideas.
• Are You Listening: Test your agents’ abilities to listen by asking a tricky question and tasking your agents with finding the solution.
• Telephone: Test how well your agents communicate with each other in this classic children’s game.
• Do You Remember: Test your agents’ ability to remember key facts using small groups and a series of questions.
• Angry and Happy Customer: Test whether your agents can handle angry and happy customers and how well they do so.
• Bad Role Play: Teach your agents what not to do by encouraging your agents to role-play the worst way to respond and interact with customers.
• Charades: Teach your agents about how to communicate better by using charades to demonstrate how much information is missed when body language isn’t available.
Don’t underestimate the power of call center training games for teaching your agents valuable skills. Just make sure the games you use are based on reality and touch on the needs of your call center agents.
Remote Call Center Training Tips
You might be reading this and thinking, “all of these call center training tips sound great, but what happens when it all has to take place remotely? Do these training tips still work in a remote call center?”
The short answer is, “Yes, definitely!” Remote call centers are nothing new. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 50% of people have worked in some type of telecommuting role, and 80-90% would like to work remotely (at least part-time). The key is how you take on the challenges of managing a remote call center and virtual environment.
First, you need to recognize that:
• It’s more difficult to build relationships without face-to-face interaction.
• Misunderstandings and miscommunication are more common when working remotely.
• Virtual team meetings are frustrating and difficult.
• Observing performance and holding virtual team members accountable is complicated but essential.
• Matching time zones, schedules, and technologies can be a struggle.
• It can be difficult to share and receive information in a timely manner in a remote call center.
• Virtual team members tend to feel disconnected from the office.
So, how do you overcome this? With the RAMP model:
• Relationships: First, focus on building relationships through trust, conflict management, and enhanced collaboration.
• Accountability: Establish clear goals for all team members and make sure that individual commitments are met.
• Motivation: Take time to inspire, influence, and engage every individual on your team.
• Process: Establish clear processes and effective technology that can be used to build relationships, keep team members accountable, and motivate individuals.
Planning for Uncertain Times
But what if a remote call center isn’t your choice and instead is in response to a crisis—such as COVID-19? There’s no reason to panic. You can come out on the other side of uncertain times without tarnishing your reputation, damaging your operations, negatively impacting your finances, or harming your employees. The key is a carefully crafted crisis communication plan for unexpected emergency situations.
Your crisis communication plan will cover everything you need to continue to provide great customer service and satisfaction within your call center, no matter what’s going on. Your plan should help your remote call center handle any situation with:
• A succession plan for all executives.
• A how-to guide for remote work, including using virtual, video, and audio technology.
• A plan for reducing business to critical operations only.
• Cross-training for team members for all critical functions.
• Documentation of all critical processes and procedures.
• Distribution of call center scripts and agent communications.
• An outline of who is involved in which actions for every crisis scenario.
• A resolution plan for each and every type of crisis.
Tips for Training Agents Remotely
So, the only question is, “How do you keep up agent training in a remote call center?” It’s all about keeping your agents inspired and motivated no matter where they’re working. Virtual or in-person, call center training should be structured in such a way that it improves performance and encourages great customer experiences.
Here are a few remote call center training tips to get you started:
• Put QA Systems in Place: A QA system helps you monitor team and individual performance so that you know where training is needed. This should be the focal point that provides and promotes opportunities for coaching, job adherence, and skill assessment.
• Provide Autonomy: Remote call center agents don’t need you looking over their shoulders day-in and day-out. Give them the trust and autonomy they need to accomplish their own training goals. A call center LMS is extremely helpful for this.
• Focus on Relationships: Training shouldn’t only be completed in a virtual classroom with no human interaction. Incorporate instructor-led training and face-to-face video coaching in your remote call center setup.
• Leverage Technology: Agent performance scorecards and a learning management system can be invaluable tools for tracking the success of your call center training.
• Provide Regular Feedback and Coaching: Demonstrate your dedication to helping your remote call center agents grow through regular feedback and coaching that motivates them to keep stretching their skills.
The remote call center offers many opportunities for distractions and dissatisfaction. What’s important is to create a sense of purpose through effective and efficient training that’s focused on the individual and the team.
General Agent Training Tips
Now that you know how to deliver soft skills training, call center compliance training, inbound sales training, technology training, fun training, and remote call center training, what about general call center agent training tips? Is there anything that you need to know to immediately improve training and ensure that it gets the results you want?
We’ve already covered most of it, but here are a few additional call center agent training tips to keep in mind.
• Cross-Training: Cross-training is the most effective method for improving individual and team performance while driving employee efficiency. By training your call center agents in different departments and teams, you up-skill them while boosting morale.
• Give More Training Time: Providing your call center agents with just 15 more minutes of training per week can have a significant impact on their performance and offer long-lasting career benefits.
• Perform Gap Analysis: Research gaps in your agents’ knowledge and skills using quality monitoring and performance reviews. In this way, you can provide training that focuses on legit strengths and weaknesses for better results.
• Offer Mentoring: Work alongside your agents during the training process by offering mentorship opportunities. Mentors are valuable assets that can help you bring out the best in your call center agents.
• Use Call Center QA Forms: To provide your agents with balanced feedback about how they’re performing, use call center QA forms to identify trends and areas that are lacking.
• Focus on Both Personal and Professional Development: Your call center agents have lives outside of your company. Take time to train them in personal development, so they feel nurtured in every way.
How to Track the Success of Your Call Center Training Program
Okay, let’s say you’ve implemented all of (or most of) the call center agent training tips we outlined above. How do you know that it’s working? That’s when you need tools that tell you exactly how well your agents are performing.
What Are Call Center Agent Performance Scorecards?
Call center agent performance scorecards, such as Scorebuddy’s self-scorecards, are essential for quality feedback. They provide your management team with immediate and valuable quality data on agent performance—illustrating both successes and failures when it comes to call quality and the customer experience.
Scorecards are especially beneficial when it comes to empowering your call center agents to take charge of their own performance. They offer a valuable opportunity for transparency and self-awareness, both of which are critical to hitting your goals and meeting KPIs. Scorecards are also great for accountability and help to motivate your call center agents to become best-in-class performers.
When used correctly, Scorebuddy’s call center agent performance scorecards help you measure:• How well your agents recognized your customer’s emotional needs and mood.
• How well your agents provided the customer with their desired outcome.
• Whether or not the customer’s perception was changed positively or negatively by the end of the encounter.
Build a Great Customer Service Scorecard
Top 9 Metrics to Track on Your Agent Scorecard
So, what should your agent scorecard include? Call center training metrics need to be completely customizable to your agents' needs, communication channels, training, and best practices. This means not using a scorecard template, and instead creating a scorecard that covers four essential areas.
Your scorecards should help you test your agents’ communication skills, professionalism, ability to gain customer trust, product knowledge, and problem-solving. To do this, there are some questions you need to include:• Did the agent display active listening skills?
• Did the agent build rapport and show an understanding of the client?
• Was the agent tone and pitch appropriate to the mood of the call?
• Did the agent summarize the follow-up plan?
• Was the agent professional at all times?
Your agent scorecards should also help you determine how well your agents have followed all call center processes. There are a few questions to help you figure this out:
• Did the agent follow the correct process?
• Did the agent follow the compensation process?
• Did the agent terminate the call correctly?
• Did the agent update the notes in the CRM case?
Call center compliance is critical to success. As we explained above, it is how you reduce risk and increase safety within your call center. Your scorecards should help you to track how well your agents follow compliance procedures.
• Pass/Fail: Identification and validation
• Pass/Fail: Identifying and handling vulnerable customers
• Pass/Fail: Seeking permission for a credit check
At the end of the day, demonstrating the right skills, following processes, and remaining compliant must be linked to better customer outcomes. You need to know if your agents are achieving high-quality customer experiences. That’s why your scorecard should also include questions about meeting goals, such as:
• How well did the agent meet their “greeting” goals?
• How many “soft skills” did the agent successfully demonstrate?
• Did the agent correctly demonstrate their “problem-solving abilities?”
• How well did the agent follow all of your processes?
• Was the agent fully compliant with company policies?
• Did the agent follow-up with the customer at the end?
Other Call Center Training Metrics
There are a few more call center training metrics that are critical to success, including:
- Net Promoter Score: This is the gold standard for measuring customer experience.
- Custom Satisfaction (CSAT): This survey score tells you how satisfied your customers are with their experience on a scale of 1-10.
- Customer Churn Rate: This metric tells you how many customers you lose over time.
- Average Resolution Time: This reveals how long it took your agents to resolve the issue compared to the total number of cases.
- First Contact Resolution Rate: This metric explains how often your agents resolve customer issues on the first contact.
How to Use Scorecards to Identify Gaps in Training
Beyond monitoring for the call center training metrics we outlined above, your call center agent performance scorecards can also help you identify gaps in training. They are invaluable tools for measuring success and matching up customer satisfaction to agent performance—if they are set up correctly.
Here are a few tips for using scorecards for training gap analysis.
- Start by developing clear quality guidelines that are well written. If your agents know what is expected of them, then they can self-score effectively and actually identify gaps in their performance.
- Get your managers involved in agent scoring. Your managers have a wealth of experience, skills, and knowledge that they can use to contribute to training. Take advantage of their experience to identify strengths and weaknesses on scorecards.
- Keep scorecards separate from other QA results. Scorecards should be kept separate from NPS, CSAT, and other QA metrics. The idea is to use scorecards solely for agent performance, so the process is as judgment-free and safe as possible.
- Compare self-scoring to NPS/CST to identify gaps in perception. While scorecards should be kept separate, there should still be a comparison to customer satisfaction. This way, you can adjust agent perception to match customer perception.
Tracking the Success of Training Programs Over Time
Training works when it translates into new behavior, but that does not happen overnight. Skills have to be practiced and implemented over time before they become learned behaviors that are not just retained but implemented daily. One of the best ways to ensure your training is effective is to implement a program that you can track in the long- and short-term.
An LMS is extremely helpful for this. Through exams and reporting, an LMS can help you automatically test learners and gain performance metrics based on their accumulation of knowledge. You can determine who has passed or failed certain subjects and continually identify areas where training can improve.
And through LMS reporting, you can track user progression and training histories on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to ensure your call center agents are moving in the right direction. This way, you can continually monitor your company’s progress toward your educational goals.
Scorebuddy has brought together its comprehensive contact center quality management solution with a new learning and development solution: Scorebuddy LMS™. This single platform solution offers contact centers the ability to perform QA alongside a fully featured LMS and a rich library of curated content inside the Scorebuddy Academy™.
It is the first of its kind, fully integrated contact center quality, customer sentiment, and learning & development suite.