Call centers are about more than just answering calls. To excel in the industry, you need to put more effort into training your agents. Here are 10 effective tips for training call center agents:
The first step is to understand your employees’ training needs. Consider what kind of skills each employee needs to perform in order to do his or her job well? How can they be trained on those skills? Do they have any special requirements?
Taking these questions into consideration will help you meet the needs of your team better than if you were to address the group as a whole. If you find that you cannot identify individual training needs for each employee, then create some platform or designated time where each employee can openly express the areas in which they need training. Not only will that save you time in trying to identify each employee’s needs, but it will also require that each employee reflects on their own skills and become aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
Once you know their specific needs, it’s time to figure out why they need this training. Are they motivated by money, recognition, career advancement, or something else? These insights will help you choose the best training for them.
Yet again this is where having a platform or designated time for listening to your employees is highly beneficial. If you create a general incentive to motivate the team as a whole, it might not work as well as you would have hoped. That’s because different people will be motivated by different things. Not to say that you can’t have incentives for the whole team too, but also take time to consider the individual incentives.
Real examples and exercises like simulations allow learners to practice skills in a safe environment without risking anything. They’re great for practicing complex interactions, such as new phone scripts or handling difficult customers. Doing this gives employees a chance to apply what they’ve learned in a realistic situation. This also gives more experienced agents a chance to teach the new agents about the tools and tactics they have used to handle situations. Another equally important aspect of these exercises is giving your employees the opportunity to ask questions in training rather than having to ‘wing-it’ when in the real-life situation.
Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens when we interact with something that interests us. When designing call center training programs, it’s important to remember this principle.
Fun activities such as games, quizzes, and competitions can motivate learners to achieve their goals. They also encourage them to work together.
Fun activities don’t need to be complicated. A simple game where agents compete against each other to answer questions correctly can be just as motivating. Similarly, a quiz can test knowledge retention, and competition can challenge agents to solve problems faster than their colleagues.
Work is work but, who says it can’t also be fun! Don’t forget to encourage learning in a fun way, so that the employees feel more inclined to participate and enjoy their jobs.
Buddy up your new starters with your top performers. This helps them get to know the culture and how things work at your organization before they start working there full-time. Not to mention, they will also learn the skills and behaviors that will make them great agents, by working closely with skilled agents.
This tactic can be seen even in elementary classrooms because it is proven to increase the performance/understanding of the individual who was not skilled in that area. Without having to take away the skills of another, you are encouraging your employees to build each other’s skills up, so the whole team improves. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link, so make sure each employee is equally strong.
Employees tend to feel unmotivated when they feel as though the work they are doing is all for nothing. Employers tend to forget that people want more from a job than just money and benefits, they want goals and personal development to drive their purpose in the company. By training call center agents to understand the importance of their job, not only for the customer but for their own development, they are much more inclined to work towards company goals.
Understanding their purpose and importance within the company results in better job satisfaction and work performance. The best way to link training to business goals is through the use of key performance indicators (KPI’s). These can measure the company’s success, the department’s success, and even the individual’s success. Getting the employees engaged in KPIs will help them take ownership and meet the goals.
It may seem obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning that good call center training programs must cover the basics. It’s essential to ensure that trainees know the company policies, procedures, and standards. In addition to this, it’s important to educate them on the importance of following safety protocols, such as reporting suspicious activity in the workplace or refraining coming to work if feeling ill. The point is, don’t skip the basics even though they are basic. Review them anyway because it is always good to get a reminder.
You may want to consider using post-training evaluations to help improve your program. Feedback from learners themselves can be extremely valuable when trying to keep training relevant and effective. Having a platform or way that agents can anonymously give feedback will ensure that you get unbiased and truthful responses. Feedback is always helpful in understanding what was and wasn’t successful about the training, so you can switch up the future training program for new employees. Furthermore, giving your agents an opportunity to express their opinions will encourage an atmosphere where employees feel valued and heard.
Lunch and learns are excellent ways to keep your employees up to date on industry trends, best practices, and other relevant information. It also gives the employees from different departments or different roles a chance to share their skills or expertise on different topics. As a result from the sessions, team-building will produce better synergy in the workplace and encourage continual collaboration between the department/roles in the company. These sessions are also good opportunities to cross-train employees who have expressed interest in moving up or moving to another department/position.
Technology is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Use technology to the fullest by using it to train your agents. One tool, in particular, the Power Dialer is especially helpful for its built-in CRM, reports, voicemail drops, and coaching tools. Tools, like the power dialer will help your call center agents be more productive and will allow you to monitor and coach them along the way.
With the call center training now covered, let’s have a look at how to develop the call center culture!