According to a recent report published by researchers at Cornell University, newly-hired call center agents receive 15 days of initial training on average before being flung into the field.
That’s not a lot, which is why it’s important for managers to know how to train their call center agents efficiently and effectively so they’re ready to provide stellar service to customers right out of the gate.
Customer support and client expectations are continuously evolving, and answering simple questions is no longer enough.
So, whether you’re new to training call center agents, or looking for ways to engage your recent hires, think of these 13 tips as your springboard to a successful agent and call center.
1. Introduce your newly hired agents to the team
Introductions are everything. A proper introduction can put recent hires at ease (the first day at a new job is often nerve-wracking), and establish a hierarchy so they know which supervisors and peers are best equipped to answer any questions they may have over the first few weeks.
Start off by introducing new hires to call center managing directors, department heads, and representative managers, either through a training video or (better yet) in person so they can put a face to the name. Also, let them introduce themselves to the team so co-workers can get to know them on a personal level and understand how they’ll be working together—doing so will provide a lifeline if anyone needs a helping hand later on.
2. Educate your new representatives about your company
To do their job correctly, your new hires need a comprehensive understanding of your business—from the individual products and services you offer, to day-to-day operations and best practices.
Don’t forget to share information about company culture, mission, core values and overall vision so they can better understand and visualize their own role in reaching business objectives. That way, your agents will be better equipped to represent your company and its goals to the fullest.
3. Teach new call center agents what schedule adherence is, and why it's important
Most new call center agent hires won’t know what schedule adherence is, nor its impact on the call center.
Simply put, it’s the amount of time a call center agent worked aligned with the time they were scheduled to work, including call time, after call wrap time, and scheduled activities like meetings and training.
Make sure your agents are in the know by having someone explain the impact that schedule adherence has on key performance indicators and how to hit certain KPI benchmarks (which will ultimately come in handy when managers are evaluating individual performances later on).
Doing so will prepare your new hires to be mindful of the KPIs your call center is focusing on, and teach them how to approach interacting with customers to reach them.
4. Describe their role in developing client relationships
Although directives may come from above, building strong customer relationships often relies solely on the level of service your call center agents gives its clients. Let agents know how the quality they provide impacts customer conversion, retention and loyalty, and how one bad experience can unravel years of work (or leave a bad impression that lasts a lifetime).
5. Introduce your "rockstars" at the beginning of the training cycle
Everyone needs someone to look up to. By introducing your highest performing agents early on, not only will it provide new hires with a point of contact if they ever need advice, but show them how top employees have been reaching certain benchmarks, and the overall effect it has on the call center and its goals.
6. Let your newly hired agents learn from the best
New agents need examples of proper greetings, transfer methods, and ways to finish a conversation. Encourage them to listen to recordings of previous calls to learn the right and wrong way to handle a caller, and supply them with scripts from your best agents, so they’re set up to succeed from day one.
7. Teach agents call center etiquette and best practices
Knowing what to say and what not to say is one of the first steps to providing exceptional support on a call. Educate agents about general call center etiquette, so they know what’s expected of them, and give them examples of best practices that are easy to access when they’re on a call.
8. Educate agents about desirable results, and why they're trying to reach them
At the end of the day, the overarching purpose of a contact center (besides providing excellent support, of course) is to increase earnings and to solve a client's problem as rapidly as possible. But that might not always be clear for new hires who are only a few days on the job and still trying to suss out their place in a contact center.
Be precise with your training by letting them know what goals they’re after and how to reach them. By doing so, they’ll be able to provide accurate and advanced customer service in turn.
9. Teach agents how to search for answers on their own
Chances are your “rockstars” won’t always be available to answer questions and help new hires. Thankfully, today’s employee engagement solutions are making it easier for call center agents to differentiate between and ascertain the right answers to their questions all on their own. (We’ll get into that more at the end of this article.)
10. Make learning a hands-on experience
Before they start receiving hands-free phone calls, make sure your call center agents get enough hands-on time—whether that’s role-playing certain call situations, or getting used to your call center software—so they’re fully prepared for whatever questions get thrown their way.
11. Use videos to engage employees in new ways
Looking to switch up the learning process? Videos are a great way to engage new agents. (Just don’t forget to test them on what they’ve learned once they’re done.)
Don’t have the funds to make your own training videos? Look no further than YouTube for a top-tier selection of how-to videos. (Call Centre Helper has an array of webinars for novices and experts alike over on their YouTube Channel.)
12. Consistently assess their progress
New hires need to know what is and what's not working for them so that they can adjust their call strategy accordingly, so aim to monitor their progress consistently and provide feedback. As the adage goes: practice makes perfect.
13. Remember that training is an ongoing process
Today’s employees see training less as a means to an end and more of a lifetime pursuit. That’s a good thing, as consistent refreshers and time to refocus lets call center agents learn from their mistakes and find out how to deliver the best service possible.
Looking to make learning not only a part of your call center agent training but your team’s day-to-day? Click here to schedule a demo and learn how some of the world’s top call centers have been using nGUVU’s call center employee engagement platform to strengthen their workforce and keep them active and engaged.