Call centers have had a terrible reputation for working in for a long time, and unfortunately, the statistics are there to prove it. With attrition rates rising for the last four years, it is evident to see that it can be a challenge to keep your staff, let alone make them great agents. In this article, we are going to be looking at some of the best call center training tips that you can utilize to ensure that you make the most of your new starters. The new year is not only a great time to start your resolutions, but you should also try to focus on your business strategy, too. All call centers will know that customer engagement and satisfaction are crucial to the success of your business. But how many times do you think of employee satisfaction? While you probably think about it, the real question is, do you focus on it enough? The answer to that is perhaps no. That is because it is easy to think that your staff is happy, but only until it is too late.
Call Center Training TipsThere are various aspects that you need to look at in any business. However, looking at the issues with no data is something that call center managers know all too well, is wrong. You invest a large amount of money in collecting vast amounts of data for analyzing and improvement of customer experience. However, that is not what we are talking about in this article. So, the first issue that we need to address is the rate of attrition for call centers.
Understanding AttritionEveryone wants to have as low as possible staff turnover. That is an undeniable fact that is true for any sector that you work in. Knowing your staff, their strengths, weaknesses, and any other quirks that they may have, allows you to accommodate them and place them in a position they are the most useful and comfortable. However, as unfortunate as it is, the reality is that you probably never really get to understand your staff to that extent because of the attrition rate. The reason for the turnover is also understandable. Agents often have a daily struggle with various issues: Agitated customers, problem-solving, low pay, and limited opportunities for career advancement. Those factors are inevitably going to lead to agents burning themselves out and seeking new employment somewhere else. However, the way to change that fact is through understanding, and changing the issues that they face, or giving them legitimate and actionable ways to cope with the troubles.
Attrition SolutionUnderstanding the reasons for agent attrition is only half of the battle that call center managers have to understand. The second half is what to do about it. Here at Call Criteria, we know those issues and dilemmas in a considerable amount of detail. Every day for us is seeing how customer service requirements can impact an agent’s performance and feelings. Part of our experience has taught us that no difference in company size will change the rates, whether you run a small, local call center, or a huge, global one, the difficulties still present themselves. So, what is the solution to attrition? Motivation, incentives, and training. The better those three points are, the lower staff turnover you will have. That is something that we often see. However, it is not only the staff retention that you will see an increase. You will consequently see staff that can produce better work, thus giving you better KPIs, customer retention, and gain.
MotivationIn a call center environment, Most of the management team comes from front-line promotions. Therefore, team leaders rarely have previous leadership experience. However, employees often have unmet expectations from their first job. Understanding the motivation as a managerial responsibility, as a necessary competence of the role of a leader is critical for the proper functioning of each call center. A defective approach to the process of motivating the agents can lead to operational dysfunctions. The balance and operational excellence in this industry are susceptible to the degree of satisfaction of the call center employees. That is because their satisfaction or dissatisfaction depends on productivity indicators, customer satisfaction, time-solving the client’s problem, perception about the quality of the service offered by the company in general, etc. Also, the degree of motivation of your call center specialists directly influences the retention indicators of the employees. Therefore, it can have a positive or negative impact on the recruitment and training budgets, as well as on the cost of recovering the investment in each new call center specialist. Here we are going to tell you seven of the most critical steps to motivate your agents into high performance. That, in turn, will allow them to feel more accomplished in their position, which will reduce attrition.
Steps To MotivateHow do we encourage young managers to make the leap from “weak” motivation competence to “advanced” motivation specialists? Imagine a fresh Team Leader of a call center that suddenly has to manage both the achievement of the operational indicators and situations related to the excellent management of the team. They may well have:
- A demanding boss who does not admit to operational failures.
- Some old members in the team with some resentment towards the promotion.
- New people who need permanent support.
- Over hundreds of daily emails, where each one is asking something from them.
- Also, they still have a request for resignation on the table to deal with.
- In all this turmoil of information and pressure, this fresh manager desperately needs help from their manager or at least from an experienced Team Leader. Pay attention to whom you designate as a coach: most of the time, their actions will borrow something more than skills from their boss, former boss, or the one who is now their coach. Make sure these influences are positive, and this young manager takes over the management style and interest in motivating the team you want in your organization.
- The young manager should be encouraged by the boss or director to develop theoretical knowledge related to the motivation of the team. Also, to read the classic theories of motivation but to continually expand their range of expertise through individual study or by participating in formal training programs. Set out a firm development plan on this competence with self-assessment tools.
- The new manager should be encouraged to come before the small management group with the caseworker who has put them in difficulty recently, to debate these situations, to take over from the group, and provide the best solutions to the group, allowing them to learn from them.
- The young manager must continuously seek to meet the motivational needs of the group either by applying creative methods or through individual discussions. Any competent manager must have an action plan to increase the satisfaction of his team.
- The manager must be trained as a motivator not necessarily to make the employees happier but to stimulate them sufficiently to exceed their level of performance.
- They must be aware that once they have correctly addressed the motivational needs of the group, they do not have the magic wand that will solve all these needs. You must learn to set the expectations of your group correctly. Clarify what his or her commitment to solving some of the problems are, which are the issues that the manager can personally influence and which are the problems that cannot be solved from the start because they do not coincide with company policy is.
- Motivating employees is not a meeting or a weekly event – it is a constant action to listen to the problems of the agents, to identify motivating needs, to seek solutions, to set increasingly tricky challenges to agents to exceed their performances. After years of continuous practice, it becomes behavior and an integral part of our management style.
Ideas For MotivationWhile we have run through some of the best reward schemes for you to use in a call center in a previous article, found here, there are some other training tips that you can take away from this article:
- Offer your staff tangible goals.
- Give them consistent feedback about their performance and their professional evolution.
- Create a work environment with an office design meant to encourage socialization and sharing of ideas.
- A 5 percent salary increase will not be appreciated as much as a few extra days of vacation.
- Introducing a flexible work schedule with the opportunity to work from home at times is a perfect idea for encouragement.
- Managers’ expectations will be appreciated. Staff wants to know in which direction the company aims to head, what the manager works for, and how they can help.
- Offering new challenges and opportunities for development and learning is mandatory.
- Allow them to learn from well-trained and experienced mentors through career management programs or career counseling.
- Try to learn yourself, as managers, from them through an inverted mentoring program.
- Smile at them more often and thank them as often as possible for answering their need to socialize. Recognize and appreciate individual efforts and performances.
- Try to understand your staff by learning to stimulate them intelligently and turn them into the best allies of your business.
Training For SuccessDefining a great customer experience is indeed not fixed. However, the highest qualified agents are always essential. As customers continue to demand authentic, “humanized” experiences, every business must ensure that its call center agents have the right skills to provide excellent service. Here are seven skills that each agent, through proper training, must master for optimal customer experiences.
Customer-centric AttitudeFirst, each company should develop a customer-centric vision and train their agents to do the same. That means that agents must always approach a service interaction from the customer’s perspective, and take the necessary steps to do what is right for them, not just what is most convenient for the business. For example, offering a client a better delivery option, making a gesture of goodwill after a negative experience, and generally adopting a tone that validates the client’s feelings. Those are excellent ways to convey a client-centered attitude.
Strong Communication SkillsBeing able to communicate well with customers is essential. Agents must learn to speak to customers with gentleness and confidence to find a balance between friendliness and a professional attitude. Working on scripts can be very helpful in finding a common approach to speaking to customers, by establishing rules for the type of language used (for example, avoiding slang or abbreviations), and leaving the agent free to add their personal touch to these scripts.
PatienceBeing patient is essential to ensure a high-quality service. The agents must be good listeners to understand the situation, and this is all the more critical when the client is frustrated. Taking the time to explain a solution in its entirety is essential. Agents should never rush to complete interaction to reduce processing time. Spending a little more time to find the best solution increases the chances of resolution from the first contact. Result: a satisfied customer.
Critical ThinkingAgents generally do not know in advance how each interaction will go. For example, a case may end up being complex, or a client may be unhappy when they call. For that reason, companies must train agents in their critical thinking skills to help them cope with tense situations while allowing them to make good-will gestures to appease customers. Roleplay during training sessions can help agents develop essential skills of thinking that can guide them when making decisions. For example, soliciting a colleague in a difficult situation, when it may be better to change channels for more in-depth service, or offering a voucher as a gesture of goodwill.
MotivationKeeping agents motivated is essential to their performance. Empowering agents to do their best through regular training and professional development opportunities help keep them at a certain level of excellence. Also, contests can be a fun way to encourage healthy peer competition while assisting agents in tracking their performance. Rewarding agents for their success through programs like “Employee of the month” is also a significant way to recognize their progress and keep them motivated.
ResponsibilitySometimes an individual or a department can make a mistake that upsets a client. As agents are on the front line in customer service, it is often up to them to show responsibility by apologizing, on behalf of the company, or for their error. Being responsible is essential to gaining the trust of customers, so accepting a mistake and providing an appropriate solution is essential for restoring confidence and increasing customer loyalty.
AdaptabilityAdapting to situations as they arise is another essential skill that any agent must master. An agent may need more time to view or enter customer data into a database, or they may need to ask a colleague for more support. Knowing how and when to adapt to these situations is essential to providing excellent customer service. Call center agents have somewhat complicated tasks, but adequate training and ongoing support from managers and colleagues can guarantee that they will master their customer service skills with confidence.
CoachingWhen agents make mistakes, understanding the errors is half of the battle. However, the other half of it is effective coaching. As you may have seen in previous articles, Call Criteria offer customized coaching dashboards to allow fine-tuning any coaching session that you may require. Whether it is a small, one-time coaching session, or a multiple agent, long term coaching session to evaluate consistent performance, our software can incorporate any aspect of coaching.
ConclusionConsolidating all of the tips that you have seen throughout this article will lead you to do many positive things for your call center. Offering a mentally stimulating, rewarding, and advancing environment for all of the staff is sure to do the following:
- Decrease attrition rates.
- Improve KPIs.
- Improve customer satisfaction.
- Increase customer retention.
- Gain new customers.
- Produce the best agents that you have ever had.