In Australia and around the world, customer expectations for service are constantly increasing. Now, customers expect more than an answer to their question. They want their problems solved quickly and desire a personal interaction with a skilled agent, not automation.
Apart from choosing intuitive and easy-to-use call centre software, call centre managers are also investing more time, money and effort into the development of training programs so that their call centre agents will be well prepared to meet the increasing expectations of their customers.
According to The Global Call Centre Report, compiled by researchers at Cornell University, newly-hired call centre agents typically receive 15 day of initial training. If your training protocol falls shy of this 15 day mark, it might be time to take a long hard look at your training curriculum and whether or not your agents are sufficiently trained to meet the needs of your customers when they hit the phones.
This blog post contains tips for training call centre agents. Use them to enhance the training you provide your agents so they can better meet the needs of your customers.
- Introduce the team
Kick off training with an introduction and a strong “WHY” statement (why should we help the customer). If you have the budget it would be very beneficial to conduct some profiling on the team members so the understand themselves and better understand the customers response. Healthy Business Builder call centre experts recommend DISC profiling as it is easy, cost effective and applicable.
- Educate your new agents about your business
Your team, new hires and existing staff should have a comprehensive understanding of your business, product and call centre operations. They should also be provided information about company culture, mission, core values and understand their role in achieving business goals. With this understanding, your agents will be more prepared to interact with customers in a manner that is consistent with your business values.
- Bring top-performing agents to training
Encourage your top agents to give practical tips on how to be a top performer. This will set the bar high for new hires and enhance their insight into how to effectively execute their job.
- Explain their role in building customer relationships
A great way to enhance agent motivation to provide outstanding service is to help them understand the role they play in building customer relationships. Educate them on customer lifetime value as well as the cost of a bad interaction. Let them know how the quality of the service they provide impacts customer conversion, retention and loyalty. Once they have this understanding, they will be more motivated to provide top-notch service.
- Teach agents call handling best practices
New agents should be provided examples of appropriate greetings, transfer techniques and how to end a conversation. Allow them to listen to recordings and also provide them with scripts. Encourage them to practice with each other until these become natural.
- Teach agents call centre etiquette excellence
When your agents have a concrete understanding of what to say and what not to say, they will be more prepared to provide excellent service. Accomplish this by teaching them about call centre etiquette excellence and informing them of etiquette guidelines.
- Educate them about their desired outcome
Their overarching goal (apart from providing amazing service of course) might be to increase sales, resolve a customer’s issue on first contact or resolve the customer’s issue as quickly as possible. Whatever the goal, agents should know it and know how to achieve it.
- Show agents how to find answers to their questions
Have a knowledge base? Teach new hires how to use it. Have a technical support department? Teach agents how to conference them into a call. Have managers that are available to jump into a live call? Tell agents who to ask for help. Do they have a rock star agent in their department? Tell them who that is and when it is ok to ask for their assistance. Trainees will inevitably come across questions that they don’t know how to answer. Show them where to look and who to ask to help them resolve the issue.
- Coach your agents individually
According to The Global Call Centre Report the time to proficiency can vary depending on:
- The educational level of newly hired call centre agents
- The complexity of the product or service
- Training protocols
- Management strategies
Keep this variation in mind when training agents. Keep your eye out for learning or knowledge gaps and do your best to adjust your approach to training in an effort to fill them.
- Make sure your training is hands-on and practical
Agents often learn best by doing. Team up your agents and have them role play common call scenarios. Allow them to get their hands dirty playing with your product. Give them sufficient hands-on time to learn your call centre software. These hands-on training experiences are essential to cultivating a capable workforce.
- Constantly evaluate their progress
Throughout the training program, consistently monitor agent performance and provide them with timely feedback. New hires should know exactly what is and what is not working so they can adjust their approach accordingly.
- Training never stops
According to The Global Call Centre Report, experienced call centre agents receive an average of six training days per year. Make sure your agents keep their performance high by continually providing refresher courses, training on new products or software and training to enhance their professional development.
As customer expectations for service increase, it is on call centre managers and executives to train agents to effectively meet their customer’s needs. Following these practical and simple tips will help you enhance your training curriculum so your centre agents can provide amazing service.
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