The expectations placed on call center employees are quite demanding. Customers want their calls answered quickly, resolved efficiently and handled with impeccable product knowledge and communication skills. But let’s face it: this level of professionalism doesn’t happen by itself.
Training is essential for both new hires and existing staff to sharpen their skills and feel motivated. And while creating a great call center experience that boosts customer satisfaction may be a tall order, it is achievable by following the right tips for call center training.
What You Should Do in Call Center Agent Training
How do you deliver call center training that uses best practices? Keeping the individual in mind, making training as relevant to real life as possible, and creating a clear connection between training and business goals are some broad best practices. But let’s get into the details of what you do want to do in call center training:
1. Cater to individual training needs
The typical workforce includes people from different professional and personal backgrounds. This diversity can be an advantage that brings new perspectives, constructive debate, and creative ideas. But diversity also means that individual employees have different knowledge and skills levels.
Some call center training tips to cater to these differences include using various training content types, like text, graphics, and video. Some learners respond more positively to interactive content types, while others prefer to read and refer back to the text.
Another tip is to design microlearning content to help learners with less knowledge to catch up. This type of content is short and punchy and is designed to address a gap in knowledge for new hires. For example, a 2-minute checklist on how to manage a new customer interaction would be perfect for a beginner.
Finally, opportunities for learners to share their own experiences in a discussion forum is another step towards personalization. Learners appreciate the opportunity to engage with each other about case studies or personal experiences. These relatable examples are crucial for training adults in any setting.
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2. Use simulations and relatable case studies
Call center agents should get plenty of practice in dealing with customers long before they’re required to actually resolve their first issue. This can be achieved by incorporating realistic simulations, role plays and case studies in the training program.
One of the most important call center training tips is to provide opportunities for practice. Case studies and recordings from real call center interactions, or realistic simulations, will not only teach agents better decision-making skills but also provide a space to learn from mistakes without impacting the customer.
Discussion forums can also be used to role-play different types of calls in a text setting, and boost learners’ confidence before they take on the ‘real deal’. For the best results, make sure that all case studies and scenarios are as realistic as possible.
3. Take advantage of social learning
People often learn as much through their peers, as they do through training materials. Combine the power of social learning with quality content to provide an engaging training experience with lasting impact.
Social learning can form part of the eLearning course through forums and webinars. But, social learning should also continue after training has finished. This can be achieved by establishing mentor-mentee relationships between more experienced agents and new hires. Training “buddies” are also effective for keeping agents accountable for practicing what they learned during training in the workplace.
4. Make the link between KPIs and training clear
Lack of purpose can be seriously demotivating. Training call center employees is more effective when they understand why their training is important for their job, for customers, and for their own personal development.
So, communicate the goals of training (and the business goals they serve) to learners from the start. Learners must be aware of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and these KPI’s should be linked to their personal development goals.
Then, because learners understand how training will help to achieve their KPI’s, they’ll become more motivated and engaged. More engaged employees will strive harder to meet their goals and get better results.
5. Create open communication channels for feedback
Call center employees interact with real customers daily. This means they’re on the front line when it comes to customer feedback. They hear what customers think and feel before anyone else. This feedback should be harnessed to improve service, and leveraged to enrich the training experience.
Create safe and open communication spaces in your training program for agents to share feedback from customers. These channels are also invaluable for asking questions during and after training. Discussion forums are popular communication channels for questions and feedback during training. However, once training is complete, webinars can be better suited for regular check-ins with agents about their experiences.
Finally, consider using feedback surveys to improve your training. Anonymous feedback from the learners themselves about training can be invaluable for keeping training relevant and effective.
Things You Shouldn’t Do in Call Center Agent Training
There are some more nuanced mistakes you just don’t want to make when planning your call center agent training. Let’s look at the don’ts of training call center employees:
1. Don’t just stick to product training
Call center agents need excellent product knowledge to effectively assist customers. But product knowledge alone is not enough.
Unfortunately, people are more likely to take the time to provide negative feedback, than positive feedback. This means that call center agents often deal with frustrated, angry, and even rude customers. Teaching agents how to create an emotional connection with these customers will help them to resolve the toughest issues, while also improving customer satisfaction.
In-depth communication training that focuses on communicating empathy, problem-solving, and maintaining a sense of engagement with callers can be just as important as product training. Courses on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and conflict management can further enhance agents’ level of service, and resilience to negative customer feedback.
2. Don’t ignore the usefulness of recorded calls
One of the greatest call center training tips is to record agents’ calls and work through them during training. Using real calls to learn from real mistakes is another way to both personalize your training and keep it fresh.
Use these recordings as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement, and to point out areas where learners are already doing well. If any calls make especially good examples, speak to the employees involved about using those calls in future training sessions, so others can learn from their experience too.
3. Don’t provide once-off training
There’s a saying that goes, “Never stop learning, because the word never stops teaching”. The same applies to call center agents. There will always be evolving customer expectations, technologies, products and best practices that call centers must adapt to.
So, your training should be a process, not an event. Remember that training shouldn’t be limited to new hires. Agents who’ve been with the business for a long time should also be provided with continuous training that keeps them sharp.
How do you make training feel continuous? In addition to some of the call center training tips already mentioned, try offering regular updates to training. This could be new scenarios and simulations for employees to work through, new job aids such as checklists, and additional social learning opportunities.
Use a world-class LMS
Call center agent training is layered and can be complex. An easy-to-use, scalable LMS can make the call center training process easier and more enjoyable for both instructors and learners.
Make sure to choose an LMS that offers both flexibility and a variety of options for content types and engagement, and the satisfaction of your call center employees and customers are bound to soar! Sign up for a forever-free account on TalentLMS and see for yourself how you can upgrade your training.
Originally published on: 21 Mar 2018