Call center training is critical to success. Not only does it ensure that you provide your customers the experience they expect and deserve, but it also has many benefits for your business.
- Reduces Employee Turnover: 94% of employees would stay with a company if there were an investment in learning.
- Increases Employee Satisfaction: 68% of employees say training and development is the company’s most important policy.
- Encourages Career Growth: 74% of employees don’t feel like they’re reaching their full potential and 76% of employees are looking for career growth opportunities, according to The Learning Wave.
- Improves Profit Margins: Companies that invest in training earn 24% higher profit margins.
There’s no doubt that call center training is vital. The problem is that most companies are only accustomed to in-person training, and in a coronavirus world, call centers are starting to look very different.
Suddenly, everything is online, but don’t worry; that could be a good thing. Cloud call centers are 27% cheaper and experience 35% less downtime than their in-office counterparts.
However, in-office versus remote agent training is very different. You need to know a few important things to achieve the same type of success.
In-Office VS Remote Agent Training
Training remote agents is not necessarily easier or more difficult than in-office; it just requires a new way of thinking. For example, there are a few challenges in remote call center training that are not even a consideration vs. in person training.
- Disconnection: Unlike face-to-face learning, there is a level of anonymity in remote learning. This means you won’t be as connected; and engagement between the instructor and trainee will be more difficult.
- Delayed Communication: In person, it’s easy to stop by someone’s office to say you’re missing a resource or need help. When working remotely, this isn’t as easy, which means there can be delays getting access to the resources and help required.
- Lack of Resources: When training remotely, all resources must be available online, including customer files, knowledge base, CRM, ticketing system, and more.
- Too Many Distractions: At home it’s easy to become distracted by children, pets, housework, and more. You can be interrupted at any time. Scheduling training in smaller chunks of focused work is critical to overcoming these distractions.
- Difficulty Monitoring: Since you can’t look over an employee’s shoulder to see how they’re doing, you have to have a way to continually monitor and track employee performance during remote training to ensure they’re following along and taking the necessary steps to succeed.
- Lack of Trust: Because you don’t meet in person, it can be difficult to build trust with new employees quickly or easily, which makes training more difficult. You have to focus on training that makes accountability, transparency, and feedback essential.
7 Tips for Training Remote Agents
You have to be highly prepared to use various approaches for successful remote training. It requires a little bit of everything from eLearning courses to one-on-one video training, virtual classroom sessions, remote training tools, and more.
Below are 7 tips for training remote agents to help you get started.
1. Create a Learning and Development Strategy
The first step to training remote agents is to create a learning and development strategy that will guide all of your efforts. According to McKinsey, this strategy should support your key business priorities and span five essential areas:
- Attracting and retaining top talent
- Motivating and engaging employees
- Building an employer brand
- Creating a values-based culture
- Developing employee capabilities
The idea is that learning and development should be about more than improving productivity; it should also contribute to employability. You not only need to ensure that your employees can do their jobs, but that they have the knowledge they need to invest in their future and the future of your business.
To create a learning and development strategy, first you need to take an in-depth look at your business and your company’s values. From there, determine which employee capabilities are most important to your success and work with your HR department to develop the tools, training, and programs necessary to achieve your vision.
2. Build Trust with Your Remote Agents
The key to successful remote agents is trust. If people feel trusted, then they’ll deliver better quality, period.
You can’t monitor for everything. You also can’t train for every situation an agent might encounter. But if you can put trust in your agents to optimize the way they work, to learn from their mistakes, and to keep moving forward.
The key is to create a solid work-from-home strategy and model that’s adapted to your company mindset and culture. Then, you need to step back and trust your employees to follow what you’ve put in place.
There are a few things you can do to build trust with your remote agents:
- Regularly communicate with your agents so that they feel like they are part of a team. Offer a way to talk through group messaging as well as one-on-one.
- Empower and motivate your agents to take responsibility for their job. While it’s important to encourage agents to follow procedures, the best agents are those who can think for themselves and think out of the box instead of just following the process.
- Engage with your agents through regularly scheduled virtual events, such as virtual drinks. When you engage your agents, you build a community and a culture that offers comfort and safety.
- Ask your agents to provide feedback on the remote training experience. This will help them feel like they matter and keep them engaged in the process.
3. Hold One-on-One Video Calls
It’s extremely difficult to train in a remote environment if you don’t make communication a priority. And one-on-one video calls play a key role in that. 96% of people agree or strongly agree that video conferencing is effective for improving the connectedness of remote team members.
Video tools such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts allow you to connect trainers and trainees just like you would if you were meeting in person. Not only can you see the other person, allowing you to read facial expressions and body language, but these tools also offer easy ways to share resources. You can share your screen to discuss important metrics, write down important information in chat, and more.
Best yet, when training over video, you can record the call so that the call center agent can watch it again later for clarity or additional coaching.
One-on-one video conferencing removes many of the barriers to remote training, allowing you to communicate with your words, tone of voice, and body language. In this way, communication is crystal clear and you eliminate the barriers of distance.
4. Conduct Virtual Classroom Sessions
One-on-one training isn’t the only remote training option. If you are trying to onboard a handful of new employees at once or you’re conducting a regular training session on an important topic, a virtual classroom session might be the best option.
Consistency is key for training remote agents and a virtual classroom allows you to quickly and efficiently disseminate essential information to a group of agents all at one time. It’s a cost-effective way to resolve common issues, improve knowledge retention, and increase productivity.
Virtual classroom sessions are ideal for sharing knowledge and information, particularly related to hard skills. It’s a great environment for teaching theories, hard data, and computer-based tasks where everyone can follow along at the same time and ask questions as needed.
To conduct a successful virtual classroom:
- It must be interactive. Participants need a way to interact with one another and the trainer through real-time chat, polling questions, breakout rooms, and more.
- It must include other resources. You can’t just talk in the virtual classroom—that’s not engaging. Instead, you need to include content and resources alongside the classroom such as pre-work, self-assessments, course journals, and follow-up materials.
- It must have a skilled facilitator. A virtual classroom is only as effective as the facilitator that presents the information. They need to be engaging, open to real-time feedback, and well prepared to present.
5. Create eLearning Content
Remote call center training should be available 24/7. Agents should always have access to the support and resources they need online. By setting your agents up for autonomous training, you empower them to take charge of their own development and how they help customers.
A learning management system can help your agents learn at any time from anywhere. The key is to offer a range of eLearning options and content from video lessons to online tests, downloadable documents, podcasts, games, software technical modules, and more.
Consider creating eLearning content that covers:
- Systems and Processes: Provide visual process guides that call center agents can follow as needed. You can offer screenshots with voice-over examples for answering common contact queries and then offer quizzes to test knowledge.
- Products and Services: Call center agents must know all of your products and services like the back of their hand. Gamification training is a great way to test agent knowledge.
- Legal, Compliance, and Standards: To ensure that your call center agents understand all compliance, legal, and standard processes, create interactive e-learning courses for this typically “hard to learn” information.
- Soft Skills: Offer content that discusses soft skills such as communication theories, leadership, personality overview, questioning types, listening skills, and more. You can use quizzes or checklist downloads to help with digital learning and developing of soft skills.
- Technical Skills: Provide modules for learning technical skills such as resource planning, forecasting, project management techniques, and more.
6. Institute Remote Training Tools
Unfortunately, 60% of call center agents don’t feel that their company provides the technology and tools they need to address the challenges they face when helping customers. That’s detrimental in almost every area, and it can stop remote call center training in its tracks.
So, what remote training tools do you need for success?
- Remote Collaboration Tools: Call center training relies on a high amount of interaction and collaboration. This requires remote collaboration tools that allow for effective collaboration that is instant, responsive, and flexible.
- Slack offers instant messaging, notifications, file sharing, group chats, and an easy-to-use interface.
- Google Drive is great for basic document collaboration.
- Zoom is a powerful video conferencing tool for quick and easy chats.
- Productivity Tracking: When training remote call center agents, you need a way to keep track of progress on all projects and team members. It’s not about looking over their shoulders, but about being able to check-in on a daily basis.
- Quality Assurance Monitoring: Quality assurance is essential to remote agent training. You need a tool that allows you to control quality across the board, share results with the entire team, and offers an opportunity to provide interactive coaching.
- Scorebuddy is a cloud-based system that keeps all of your QA data in one place so you can easily highlight where your agents are performing well and gain insight into where they can improve.
7. Hire the Right Remote Agents
We can’t conclude our discussion on remote agent training without talking about hiring. Hiring the right remote agents in the first place is essential to your success. You should hire high-potential agents from the beginning. The truth is that when you hire remotely, you’re fishing from a much bigger pool. You can search for agents with the exact talent and knowledge that you’re looking for because it doesn’t matter where they live.
If you change your mindset for remote work, you’ll discover that you have so many people to choose from that you’ll be able to cherry pick the right profiles for your company.
How to Track the Success of Remote Agent Training
As we already explained above (tip #6), to track the success of remote agent training, you need a quality assurance system in place. This tool should tell you how your agents are handling every customer interaction and if their performance is meeting your expectations. Without knowing how they’re following your processes, remaining compliant, and achieving desired outcomes, you won’t know how to train them.
Scorebuddy is a call center monitoring platform that is completely customizable to your needs and expectations. You can set up as many different call center QA forms as you need to evaluate calls, review emails, monitor chat, check social media, and more. It’s a powerful analytics tool that makes it easy to spot trends and expectations within your call center, so you can determine what training is needed to improve.
With Scorebuddy, you can dig deep, carrying out a root-cause analysis, to identify training gaps, discover broken processes, reveal common pitfalls, and find the key to agent successes. It’s a great way to encourage engagement and empower your call center team to perform their best.
When 5CA implemented Scorebuddy as their main tool for quality assurance for their remote teams, they witnessed a drastic improvement. Over the course of two months, they were able to increase the quality score for their remote agents by almost 25%—a really big success.
Scorebuddy will help you close the loop between quality assurance, call center training, agent motivation, and transparency. Learn more about how Scorebuddy’s QA system can transform your remote call center agent training today and download your free trial.