17, January 2017
Customer Experience, going forward, is going to be the biggest game changer for businesses. Historically, it has been delivered through human interactions. This business is now different, additional technological tools have changed the traditional way of how conversations happen.
Businesses, for the purpose of profitable conversations, employ ‘Contact Center agents’. These humans are the face of the brand when the customer tries to get in touch with the brand and it is an absolute must to train them to face the high expectations of today’s customer service.
Here are some necessary tips to help you to train your agents for the hot seat.
1. Recruit good agents
Your employees are your first brand ambassadors. Therefore, it is crucial to hire good agents who will foster the company culture. Good agents can be termed as the ones who can communicate effortlessly, understand business, and with faster problem-solving skills. These candidates can then be trained effectively. The ones that identify with your values will be your ideal candidates and these ones that make up the team can be used to attract similar talent. Bonus – the best agents are the empathetic ones.
2. Train them with the best
An experienced contact center trainer can bring out the strengths of the agents to the foreground and teach them to use their strength to benefit the contact center. They teach agents the importance of time, etiquette and outcomes of a good customer experience. Good trainers also make sure the training methodology and programs are up to date and can handle a variety of classrooms.
3. Teach your business
Contact center agents need to know your big business story along with a detailed knowledge of your end customers. This knowledge will help them deliver a better quality of interactions and gain customer loyalty. The bigger picture can help them piece separate issues, stitch them together to provide an effective solution.
4. Empower agents
Allow agents to embrace their responsibilities and provide them with the power to take independent decisions. This self-learn approach will help the contact center in the long run, given that the agents will be trained to face pressure even before they are officially on board the real contact center environment. With help of tools and timely communications on recent changes, some problems that fall out of prescribed script can be dealt this way.
5. Simulate training sessions
Use real-life examples to train your agents. Collect your most harrowing customer interaction nightmares and assign different ways to solve them. For example, you can assign your agents into teams and have an interaction role play. This can be a fun and an easier learning exercise and also keep them thoroughly engaged.
6. Never stop learning
With new tools, new technologies and new channels for interactions, the new age contact center guy needs to attend refresher courses to meet customers where they are most likely to be found. Training periods can be scheduled throughout the year where changes to the process, the formation of new teams and even turning agents to future trainers can be decided. Truth be told, training should be a regular part of an agent, because learning is an ongoing process.
7. Invest on a library
Have a place, virtual or physical, to help find answers to questions beyond the training materials. This repository can also be used to share training materials from other sources, giving a glimpse into the diverse world of customer experience. Additional of your ‘how-to’ videos and audio files can be immensely helpful for the agents to learn faster.
8. Measure the effectiveness
The skillset of agents, especially soft skills, can differ depending on various factors such as morale, confidence, motivation etc. This gap difference can be closed by providing specific training, assessment is thus an important process in the contact center. However, it is also equally important to choose suitable metrics ( including new ones) that can assess agents on industry standards. The wise thing to do would evaluate their progress from time-to-time.
9. Encourage feedback
Feedback is an essential tool to monitor the performance of the agents and set them on the right track if they are found to be steering away from the target. Constructive criticism fed with equal measures of support will preserve the esteem of your agent and motivate them to improve their performance to influence your customers. Also ask your agents to provide their opinions on how the training are carried out, how useful is their training materials and areas for enhancement. Actionable feedback is a win-win to all the involved parties.
10. Set achievable targets
When setting contact center targets, keep the unpredictability of the caller’s persona in mind. Different personas can be set as different targets. These will be assigned to agents with the skills to handle these different queues and measure these as their targets. Setting callers expectations as targets can be another way to go about it. Overall, targets should be realistic and be set according to the type of callers that are handled.
11. Insist on building relationships
Quick response to issues can get your customers to like your brand but to make them your loyalists, building a good relationship is the key. And drill this message in your training. Teach to embrace empathy, and sound like a human and not talking machine even when with increased call volumes.
With these tips, starting out a good training plan can be easy. Happy Training!