This blog is part of a series on call center training.
Click on the links below to see our other blogs in the series:
- Click here to learn effective call center soft skills training for agents.
- Read how to use call center data analysis to improve your training program.
- Discover how root cause analysis can be used for improving call agent training.
Tip 1: Positive reinforcement
Comment on, congratulate or better still; formally recognize your call center agents when they perform well. Formal recognition, when visible to other employees, is a call center training best practice that will boost the agent themselves and it is likely to motivate their peers to replicate their celebrated colleague's behavior as well as the agent repeating the behavior.
Tip 2: Cross-training
Not the weightlifting fitness type of cross-training of course! Cross-training involves taking the agent out of their usual environment of answering customer calls or emails, etc. and training them through showing other sides of the business that are impacted by customer service. Agents love when cross-training initiatives are incorporated into the call center training program as it is a change from their usual routine and helps them understand how their role helps other areas of the business.
Tip 3: Increased time allowance for call center training
This is a difficult one to justify sometimes because people have a full schedule and lots of tasks needing attention. However consider the return on investment the coach and the agent will gain from spending an additional 15 minutes per week conducting call center training. If call center coaching tools are effective, performance will improve and all other metrics associated with that. Another option is cutting time from activities that don't add as much value.
Tip 4: Empower Agents
Agents' performance will improve 5-fold if they are handed over the control panel for performance reviews; agenda setting, goal setting and items to be worked on.
Tip 5: Train for knowledge gaps
Don't design call center training programs you think your agents need, research the knowledge gaps with tools for quality monitoring and performance reviewing and tailor-make training for what's needed. Making assumptions could be a costly mistake!
Tip 6: Move agents around
Moving agent from department/team around every few months will not only up skill them but it will also help boost morale and prevents agents from falling into a trap of dull, repetitive work. These kind of call center training programs give agents a chance to learn more and can be a great opportunity for them to progress their career.
Tip 7: Work alongside your agents
It's amazing how much you can understand about a person's role and how they might feel if you walk in their shoes for a day. By sitting next to agents you'll be better equipped to help and empathize with them and deliver effective call center training tips, and they are more likely to be susceptible to your suggestions as they witnessed your presence on a call; in listening, seeing and feeling what they are going through. Remember sometimes that call center coaching sessions can be an avenue for agents to vent their frustrations, often poor performance is not down to lack of skill but due to an overload in frustration. Working alongside agents will help you understand these day-to-day agitations that can get under anyone's skin. Agents often know the solutions to their problems and don't need a coach to point them out, they simply need someone to care and understand the problems.
Tip 8: Use benchmark calls
When training, the use of good and bad benchmark calls is a great way to dissect a conversation, to provide call center training techniques, and allow agents to validate their own performance.
Tip 9: Give balanced feedback
It's important to give both positive and negative feedback. Use your judgement to assess to what extent you give both kinds of call center coaching. High performers who are competitive might either crave constructive criticism or recognition for excellent work. The last thing you want any call center agents thinking about a call center coaching session is "what have I done wrong now?".
Tip 10: Ask agents to select calls for feedback
Ask agents to submit their own good and bad calls for assessment too, lessons will resonate quicker on their own calls and you'll be amazed at the honesty of agents in both knowledge gaps and problem identification.
Tip 11: Schedule regular 1-to-1s
1-to-1s are really important for call center staff. They deal with customers all day everyday, it can be a tiring, draining and thankless job. Regular 1-to-1s mean that its less formal but that doesn't mean its less important. Casual 1-to-1s can allow for relationship building and foster an environment of trust.
Tip 12: Personal development
Agents are humans with lives outside of the contact center and with career aspirations, don't forget it. Personal development is crucial for nurturing any employees, in a contact center there are probably only a small percentage of agents who want to remain as agents in the long term. Link performance to promotions, increased salary and opportunities to work in other areas of the business they are interested in.