20 best-practices for call center agent training
Customers expectations for service are always increasing and call center training is a crucial part of the puzzle. Improving performance management and training best practices in the call center is key to keeping your customers happy.
“Make sure that everyone who talks to customers on the phone, or answers the business line, is trained,” says Gail Goodman, president at communications and phone training company ConsulTel.
Customers rely only on those organizations where they get a quicker solution to their problems and get to interact with skilled agents. This is why the agents need to be provided with qualitative training for meeting the client’s expectations.
Managers overseeing a call center know that their agents require consecutive trainings so that they can deliver exceptional customer service. Regular training is crucial for call center agents, whether it’s about any newly launched product or modifications in the existing product.
From taking orders to providing customer support, sticky situations are bound to arise. But how you handle these situations can mean the difference between creating loyal customers and losing business.
Boosting agent productivity comes down to training and empowerment.
Call center agent training best practices:
Here are 20 actionable call center agent training tips and best practices you can use starting today:
1.Empower your agents
An agent that is provided with the appropriate tools to empower them to make decisions on behalf of the company is crucial. A highly trained agent with the power of decision will not only ensure higher customer satisfaction, but will also enable single call resolution and thus result in a more positive customer experience. It’s all about encouraging agent buy-in, not only into the value-driven service their employer is providing, but also buy-in to the client brand that they are representing.
2. Training should be varied and engaging
Try and move away from monotonous training.
If your agents aren’t engaged, they won’t learn… And your customers won’t benefit!
3. Handling calls during induction training
Handling calls during the initial training session is an activity that can not be eliminated from the curriculum. It is imperative that the new hires receive practice handling real-time calls. There is no substitute for this experience. Role-play is good, but real call handling is essential. Trainers should make sure that equipment works and is available for each “real-time” call handling session. Operations should make this a priority.
4. Host monthly meetings with department representatives
Schedule monthly calibrations with representatives from all of our different departments to review calls.
5. Create instant ‘shout outs’ based on great customer feedback
Recognise great customer support in a very public way.
When your customers email you about a great experience, you can announce it to the group, post it on an overhead call board monitor, and put it on the ‘shout out’ bulletin board in your openspace.
6. Encourage upper management to listen to calls and praise agents
It’s really important that he upper management team takes time each week to listen to calls and publicly praise the recognised agents with maybe a certificate or gift card for example. The gents will feel incentivised to do their best.
7. Make sure all feedback is clear and actionable
It is really important that you deliver feedback that agents can respond to.
Make sure all feedback you give is clear and actionable.
8. Create opportunities for agents to discuss quality with their peers
It is important to create opportunities for agents to discuss quality with their peers.
Quality and best practice in the call centre should not be driven solely by manager-to-agent conversations.
9. Lunch and learn
Start lunchtime learning sessions where staff can elect to deliver a session on their topic of choice. Even if the topic isn’t work-specific, you’re giving staff the opportunity to see a different side of their colleagues, and the person delivering the session is able to share their energy and enthusiasm for something they’re passionate about. Great for upping the energy levels. Great for engaging staff.
10. Buddy-up your new starters with your best performers
Use your best agents to support the training of new starters.
Building relationships early with the top performers makes new agents want to be like them – rather than copying the worst performers!
11. Offer incentives for achieving team goals
Another call center customer service best practice is to offer incentives each month to our agents who successfully meet their team goals.
For example, handing out tokens for prize draws.
12. Use speech analytics to identify agent training opportunities
Being able to analyse large volumes of agent/customer interactions releases information on specific calls with issues, and trends across the whole agent population, creating the opportunity to coach staff using identified good examples to improve standards across the contact centre. The resulting information not only creates training opportunities but also enables refinement of scripts, improving the overall performance of the contact centre.
13. Align Performance Management with your wider strategy
Make sure your whole approach to Performance Management is aligned to a wider customer service strategy and employee engagement programme.
Your call center agents can then see the bigger picture and are more likely to buy in.
14. Create an agent workgroup to set targets and KPIs
This will help you set realistic and achievable targets that staff will buy into, as well as help change the perception of your senior management team as to the definition of high performers.
15. Separate call accuracy from customer service
Break your quality measures down to address specific focus areas for agents. For example, split call accuracy from customer service, as someone could be great at one but awful at the other.
This will give you a greater ability to give agents praise where it is due, but also address any areas in need of development.
16. Business Knowledge
All good business people understand that knowing your customers increases your ability to serve them, retain them and grow your base. Business knowledge is power. The challenge facing contact centre managers is how to gain knowledge of their customers, how they are being served by the company’s contact centres and then how to use that information to further improve quality of service and revenues.
17. Work on improving knowledge management
“Hone your skills to perfection and learn something new everyday”. This is because the only long-term competitive advantage for any organisation is the collective brain power of its people.
18. Build an open and transparent company culture
Being open and transparent with your agents over time will build a culture where feedback and coaching is the norm – and fear will subside.
19. Always make sure your agents identify with your values
In the training process, concentrate on how agents bond with the supervisors and identify with your core values.
If you identify someone who does not share your values during the training process, you may have to let the agent go right away.
You can train for skills, but you can’t change values.
20. Ask your agents for feedback on their training session
Provide your agents with feedback forms at the end of each training session to gain a wider understanding of how they feel the training session went – and also to see if, how and what you can improve.
Over to you! Tell us your best practices for training your call center agents, do you have any tips you would like to share?
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