Agent Success Training Tips
In the call center arena, your frontline people are crucial to success. The best agents are friendly, problem solvers, understand policies, and have high emotional intelligence. All those skills are developed over time, and they may only acquire them if they are guided and receive proper training. Agent success training differs for all call centers but is essential to your employee development program. When building out agent success, remember these tips for fostering successful training.
Pick the Right Medium
Every individual learns differently, so employ various teaching tools to address all learning preferences effectively. Each medium has its benefits, but the best combination is to choose a primary method where you control the pace and content and let employees choose a secondary way.
– Lecture Setting: Usually conducted within the office training room, a lecture setting allows managers, QA directors, and heads of training to speak to larger groups and conduct necessary training on best practices, company policy, or new procedure changes. It lets you control the content and personalize sessions to your call center needs. You can do PowerPoint presentations and videos or role-playing in this setting.
– Take Home Handouts. When a new concept is more in-depth, consider handing out printed pamphlets or one page that allow trainees to study it at home. Some learners must read over or make notes to comprehend a subject thoroughly.
– Interactive programs: There are many digital study aids available. Setting up an interactive learning program is a great way to help the “hands-on learners.” Easy digital flashcard learning games are available through Quiz-let; for hard skill improvement such as typing, try Typing games. You can even make a contest of it by ranking high scorers!
One-on-one coaching: Agents’ success training is a team effort, so taking time to sit down and provide one-to-one coaching can be very valuable when an employee is new, or you want to provide mentorship opportunities. Taking a preexisting skilled agent and having a new trainee be their shadow can help them learn all the little things that aren’t in your training manual.
Regardless of how agents learn the theory of a process or rationale behind a skill, performing that element of work helps establish their competence. Yet instead of practicing on real callers, a safer environment that is more conducive to effectual learning is to use role-playing in a classroom environment. While some relish these opportunities, not all do. Yet all agents can learn through role-playing and internalize key proficiencies before applying them to actual callers. Remember that role-playing in front of a large group of peers can be embarrassing, so break it out into smaller groups. Yet all agents can learn through role-playing and internalize key proficiencies before applying them to actual callers. However, only some training concepts must be role-played, which can take a lot of time. Limit it to new scenarios after they happen or when significant changes occur.
When instructing agents, don’t take anything for granted. For example, a hashtag is known as a pound sign to others. Explain everything in detail. Using company acronyms can confuse new hires, so spell them out. Also, when finishing a training session, follow up with a quick quiz a few days later to see if the information was retained.
Teach Soft Skills
Too often, agent training focuses on tangible skills, such as how to use programs, navigate resources, and the most efficient button sequence to accomplish critical tasks. Yet callers are more concerned with the agents’ customer service abilities, the soft skills. Teach agents to listen truly, hear what’s not being said, convey empathy, and defuse emotions. For maximum effectiveness, share these in a group setting, with ample time for discussion.
Provide Practice Time
Instruction means nothing without the opportunity to apply it. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Build practice time into all group training. People can quickly forget what they hear or see, but what they do stays with them, especially when they do it repeatedly. Athletes call this muscle memory; the same principle applies to agents as they master call center skills.
Agents are the key to successful call centers, and strategic training is the key to effective agents. Sometimes though, building the right rain program from the ground up is complex, and a little guidance is helpful! Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and service provider, and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of staff in the call center and telephone answering service industry.