Want to set up effective call center training programs?
During the last decade, customer service has moved on from being a mere necessity to taking a front-seat for most businesses.
As a result, contact center services and operations have gone through a massive transformation. And it’s vital that the methods and practices in call center training sessions reflect these changes too.
Frontline customer service agents must now be empowered to embrace and utilize these new trends.
In this article, we’ll share eight best practices and strategies to make your call center training sessions highly effective.
This Article Contains:
(click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is Call Center Training?
- 8 Best Practices and Strategies to Empower Your Agents
- How Does Efficient Agent Training Benefit Your Business?
Let’s get started.
What is Call Center Training?
Call center training is a set of resources and learning methodologies that prepare your contact center employees for the challenges and responsibilities they might face at work.
The ultimate goal is to equip them with the necessary skill sets and tools to provide good customer service.
The training program may incorporate various learning techniques and channels like:
- Classroom training.
- One-on-one mentoring.
- Online training or e-learning.
- Audio and video training session.
- Soft skills and language coaching.
- Call handling training sessions, etc.
8 Best Practices And Strategies To Empower Your Agents
We’ve curated eight call center training tips to make your customer service training program highly efficient.
Let’s dive right into them:
1. Align Training With Business Goals
You must align your customer engagement team with the guiding principles that drive your business. Educate a new agent on your business goals as well as the importance of customer engagement.
Use statistical data and case studies to highlight how meaningful customer engagement can add value to the business.
This way, you’ll be able to:
- Meet customer expectations.
- Increase customer satisfaction and trust.
- Gain valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences.
- Form a strong brand image in the minds of the customers.
- Get valuable customer feedback that can be used to fine-tune the product or service.
- Boost the revenue funnel through consistent engagement.
2. Create A Plan From Onboarding To The Call Center Floor
A newly recruited employee should be able to complete the training and reach the call center floor in a stipulated time.
Any delay in the process will not only incur high costs to the business but also affects the agent’s morale.
How can managers and supervisors minimize these delays?
Here are a few pointers:
- Set clear objectives and goals for each module.
- Plan and schedule the entire training program in advance using realistic deadlines.
- Pre-allocate necessary resources for each stage of the training. For example, assign mentors, select case studies, curate call scripts, and so on.
- Use the onboarding phase efficiently — impart initial training on tools and processes used in the company. Give the new hires a tour of the call center floor to get a feel for the job.
- Set up processes for faster evaluation and feedback.
Creating a training plan will give the agents a clear picture of their transition from a trainee to a star on the floor.
Additionally, it’ll help the supervisor or the trainer gauge the learning aptitude of each recruit and create a more customized training approach. A quick learner can be fast-tracked to the certification process, while others can get specialized attention to improve their weaknesses.
3. Embrace Flexible Training
A call center training program should be more than the traditional classroom training or voice and accent coaching.
It should embrace flexible learning channels and techniques that allow the agents to learn from anywhere at any time.
These tools create a centralized repository of company data, including learning resources — self-help guides, audio/video tutorials, call scripts, and other training material for quick and easy access.
An employee can refer to these handy tools to find quick answers to their queries. These tools can even assist agents if they are stuck with a tricky customer issue.
Some of these knowledge management tools can also integrate with your existing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools to offer additional features.
For example, they can fetch specific information from the CRMs, such as details of previous customer interaction and their preferences. This allows the agent to offer a more customized experience.
4. Use A Hands-On Approach To Training
Training is effective only when it builds new habits and behaviors. A sure-shot way to teach agents new skills is by taking a practical approach to training.
Here are a few effective tips for developing a hands-on training program:
A. Listen To Call Recordings
Listening to pre-recorded calls can help agents differentiate between excellent and bad phone etiquette. Supervisors can listen to agents’ call recordings to give them instant feedback.
B. Practice Mock Calls
Training agents through mock customer calls can help polish their soft skills. It’ll also help correct any speech and pronunciation errors.
C. Use Video Tutorials
‘How-to’ videos are a great way to train agents on the call center software and other equipment on the floor. Training video guides can teach call center etiquette, and the best practices will help them acquire these values much faster.
D. Engage With Gamification
Consider gamifying training activities, so that agents compete with each other on various training parameters. It is a fun way to teach essential call center skills.
E. Incorporate Storytelling
Agents must be able to transfer information to the customer in a lucid way. Practicing storytelling, especially during sales training, will groom them to become master communicators.
5. Focus On Continuous Learning
Call center training shouldn’t be treated as a one-and-done deal.
Customer sensibilities and preferences change every few years. You must update your call center training program to adapt to the latest trends.
Encourage experienced agents to take refresher training programs, preferably once every year.
An ongoing training program will ensure that:
- Your client service team offers an impeccable customer experience at all times.
- They always stay free from undue pressure.
The leadership team should constantly reinforce the training ecosystem by incorporating the latest in technology and behavioral psychology in the refresher training modules.
6. Develop A Feedback Strategy
A continuous training approach will also need a robust feedback system to keep it flowing smoothly.
A new agent may not keep up with the training if they don’t get proper feedback.
For example, providing generic feedback like “your call quality was poor” won’t help the agent make any targeted efforts.
Managers and supervisors should use Key Performance Indicators(KPI) and other metrics to gain better insights into the agents’ performance. It’ll enable them to give accurate and actionable feedback.
Over time, they should familiarize the agents with these KPIs and encourage them to self-evaluate.
Here are a few other ways to give better feedback to agents:
- Schedule daily, weekly, and monthly feedback sessions for the entire duration of the training course.
- Always begin the feedback by highlighting the positives for each participant. Also, use immediate ‘shout-outs’ to acknowledge and reinforce good work done.
- Back any critical feedback with qualitative and quantitative data from the call center software. This way, agents will know exactly where they need to improve.
- Follow critical feedback with an immediate solution to address the issue.
- Make feedback sessions a two-way communication. Ask the agents how they feel about their performance.
7. Use Technology To Optimize Training Methods
Using technology can simplify and speed up all aspects of call center training.
It can help agents learn better and faster, while supervisors can utilize it to monitor the progress of each participant and the training program as a whole.
Let’s explore three cutting-edge technology solutions to use during agent training:
A. AI-based Tools
AI chatbots can guide and assess agents at every stage of the training process.
B. Scripting Tools
These tools can generate real-time scripts to aid the agent during mock customer calls and even during customer interaction on the call center floor.
C. Performance Tracking Tools
Their team leader or supervisor can use Time Doctor to generate detailed time tracking reports.
These reports will show the amount of time taken by each participant to finish different modules as well as the entire training program. This way, you can spot experienced agents with ease – as they’ll be the ones to complete the programs much quicker than the rest.
Similarly, you can also determine new agents as they’ll take longer to go through the program.
You can also identify the modules they’re struggling with, so you can customize their training program to fit their training needs.
Time reports can also give regular insights into the average duration of your contact center training program.
If it stretches longer than expected, you can take the necessary actions to streamline it further.
8. Make Training Fun and Interactive
Keeping the agents free from any undue pressure during the training is crucial for their motivation and confidence.
Only a happy and relaxed agent can convincingly empathize with the customer.
Thankfully, managers can make the training fun and engage through proven employee engagement techniques.
Let’s take a look at three such techniques:
Agents may regularly face unexpected scenarios while assisting the customers.
Managers or supervisors could help them prepare for such scenarios through role-playing exercises.
They can play the role of angry or distressed customers, while agents try to develop on-the-fly solutions to assist them calmly and carefully.
To give this exercise a fun twist, managers could step into the agents’ shoes and take calls from them. This way, they can demonstrate empathy and active listening skills – the two most essential skills for agents.
B. Shadow Program
There’s no better way to learn the tricks and traits of customer happiness than from the top-performing agents themselves.
Each new customer service agent can each be assigned a mentor. They can ‘shadow’ their mentor throughout the training and get to see how these experienced agents go about their job.
C. Informal Team Outings
Call center managers can cut through the silo-approach with regular team outings. They can bond with their team members over food, movies, or outdoor activities.
These sessions should be a fun two-way exchange – managers can share humorous customer experiences from the past, and agents can share the issues they face during the training.
How Does Efficient Agent Training Benefit Your Business?
An excellent customer service experience can make your business stand out from the competition.
Investing in a comprehensive call center agent training program can benefit your business in many other ways. Let’s take a look at them:
1. Expect Better Agent Performance
When the agents in your team interact with a customer, the level of their preparedness can make or break the whole experience for the customer.
It includes both their technical know-how as well as soft skills.
For example, consider these two factors:
- Agent motivation: Thoroughly trained agents are well aware of the importance of their work. This awareness keeps them motivated to give their best, which results in a better experience for the customer.
- Agent confidence: No customer likes to interact with an under-confident representative. A good training program empowers the agent with an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and the necessary soft skills to handle any situation confidently.
Additionally, a good training program will ensure that your call center agents meet the highest standards, such as the COPC customer experience(CX) standard, and get certified appropriately.
2. Offer Better Customer Experience
Is there a key to customer loyalty and retention?
Yeah. You must focus on keeping them happy and satisfied.
Besides an amazing product or service, a customer seeks an enriching experience every time they connect with your team. A well-trained customer service representative is more likely to resolve their issues quickly and efficiently.
More importantly, they’ll make sure that customers leave with a smile on their faces and post positive feedback on their social media handles.
3. Enhance Brand Value
Your brand image can benefit greatly from the reputation of being a customer-centric business.
However, most businesses miss the fact that this image can’t be achieved overnight and takes long-term strategy and persistent action.
The first step is to create a team of highly skilled customer-facing agents by setting an effective call center training program.
Each time a customer service representative from your team does a good job, your brand’s image improves slightly.
4. Meet Compliance
Educating your contact center agents about these regulations is vital to ensuring compliance.
A growing number of businesses are adopting a customer-first approach today. And this means building a skilled and motivated team of customer reps becomes a top priority for them.
The practices and strategies shared we covered here focus on a modern approach to traditional call center training.
Implementing these strategies in your contact center agent training program will certainly help you shape a future-proof customer engagement team.
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor—a time tracking and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams.