Agents are a contact center’s most valuable resource; ultimately, they drive the satisfaction and the experience of customers they interact with. However, they are also the most expensive resource – typically, 60 to 70% of an operation’s total expenses. When it comes to managing their most valuable (and most expensive) resource, contact centers spend considerable time and effort training call center agents to be well prepared to meet the always-evolving expectations of their customers.
More than just effective onboarding for new agents, ongoing training and development for more seasoned agents is critical to a contact center’s success. Consider the following tips for training call center agents – both new and seasoned – for success in your contact center:
- Showcase RL calls to demonstrate best practices from your top performers. Whenever possible, utilize real-life calls as examples of call handling best practices. If you record interactions with your customers for Quality Monitoring, consider leveraging great calls to showcase best practices from top performers. Similarly, if you collect survey data, share real customer feedback with agents – either as group training or in their 1:1 coaching sessions with agents.
- Empower agents to be more involved in your QM program. If you evaluate agent interactions with customers, make QM as transparent and inclusive as possible. Ensure that agents understand how they are being scored or graded. One simple way is to socialize the QA evaluation forms with the agents. It gives them familiarity with expectations of the business – as well as with the actual questions and form being used to rate their interactions. If possible, offer agents the opportunity to evaluate one of their own calls. Aside from a sense of empowerment, providing agents with self-evaluation options has greater benefits. Supervisors report more productive coaching sessions when agents are able to evaluate their own calls.
- Make self-coaching tools available. If you have coaching tools, socialize them consider setting aside regular time for “self-paced learning” to encourage agents to use them. Ideally, coaching can be completed online and agents sign the coaching electronically when completed so it can be reported on later. Make it easy for supervisors to send agents coaching tips to help guide them on their skills development.
- Give them the keywords: Teach agents how to navigate the KB. Ensure that knowledge base content is regularly updated and thoroughly tagged, so that content is searchable. Efficiency is key! Train agents on which keywords to use to locate information quickly.
- Explain the importance of schedule adherence. Especially for those who are new to the contact center environment, underscore the importance of adhering to schedule. It seems simple enough (“Take breaks at the scheduled breaktime.”) and is normally covered as part of orientation, however, it is critical for all team members to understand the important role that schedule adherence plays in call center performance and that even minor violations can wreak havoc and, ultimately, result in poor customer service.
- Mix them up: Pair new agents with more seasoned agents. Whether you have informal pair-ups or formal mentoring, it is another simple way to encourage learning from each other. Shadowing and side by side monitoring with someone more experienced can do wonders to support and refine an agent’s product, call flow, and process knowledge.
While there is no single “right way” to train agents, we know that agent development is a continuous process and investing in training contributes to higher-quality customer service, reduced agent frustration, and improved employee morale.
Have your tried any of these ideas for training for success in your contact center? Did these tips help you consider new ways to think about on-going development of both new and seasoned call center agents in your contact center? Share your own experience or tip with us in the comments.