Call centre training tips for agent success
Call centre training tips for agent success
Even if your new hires are coming to you from previous call centre work, you’ll still need to train them about how your company runs. But, because not everyone comes in with the same experience, the same motivation and drive to do well, and the same learning style, as a call centre manager you’ve got to have a versatile approach in your call centre training program.
I suspect that many of you have had to attend ineffective training or long, boring workshops that you’ve hated. For some companies, that’s just the way it’s done, but call centre training doesn’t necessarily need to be approached that way.
Harness the Power of YouTube
YouTube is chock full of videos – and yes, while it’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole, watching cat video after cat video, used the right way it can be an incredibly powerful educational tool. You can find humorous clips that lighten the mood or stick in the mind, and countless fail videos to show trainees how not to handle customers. Need some inspiration? Check out these videos to get started:
- Making a successful outbound sales call – basic training and strategy advice
- B2B etiquette – interactive training video
- Outbound call fail – Short video to demonstrate what happens when agents can’t fluently read through the script.
- Major customer service freak out – Demonstrates how the agent remains calm even though the customer is yelling and cursing.
And, a bonus – this one isn’t for training, but for motivation – a playlist of badass songs. Tracks include:
- Stronger – Kanye West
- Enter Sandman – Metallica
- We Will Rock You – Queen
- Drive – Incubus
Take your call centre training outside the classroom environment
Nobody ever said you have to be in a classroom to learn – we’re already starting to learn this important point for children. Part of what makes any kind of training onerous is the idea of sitting at a desk facing death by Powerpoint, unable to move.
Aim to conduct at least part of your training elsewhere – in a restaurant over lunch, outside at the park, or in some other relaxing environment. You can:
- Practice roleplaying to handle various call scenarios
- Discuss more about the products and services you’re offering customers
- Show your fun company culture
Your coaching doesn’t have to be formal – you can have conversations anywhere, anytime, and keep them as short or as long as you’d like.
Offer online training simulations
Online training simulations – kind of like the one demonstrated in the B2B Etiquette video linked above are an interactive way to train agents without relying on quality assurance recordings to play guessing games. Plus, because they’re online, your agents can do them anytime anywhere, in their pajamas or pants-less at home. There’s something to be said about the comfort and privacy of home. Does it really matter where and how the training modules get done, as long as they get done and are done well?
Your agents will spend about 15 minutes making decisions about where to take the call next based on their virtual customer’s response. At the end of the call, they’ll get feedback which compares the route they chose, compared to the ideal route for the call. Plus, feedback can be printed and used as a reference later for similar real-life calls.
Since this training can be done in small bursts, it’s a great thing to include as part of ongoing training that I’ll get to in just a second.
Cut the fluff from the curriculum
Time is money – for you, and for your employees. Review whatever training curriculum you’re using to work with agents, and cut the fat. Hyper-focusing your efforts on the core of what matters allows to spend more time on details like getting past the introduction and rejection handling. You may not save any time overall, but at least you can spend more time where it really counts.
Add adaptable calls to your training every week
Agents aren’t going to be able to predict every single call scenario as it happens, so it’s important to add adaptable calls to your call centre training, progressively so that as the trainees acquire new skills, they can be put to work.
Treat call centre training as an ongoing obligation
Your agents shouldn’t stop training. Things are constantly changing – with the industry and with the products and services you’re selling. Keep agents working to sharpen those skills as necessary to keep profits flowing.
We talked about call centre gamification in a previous post. If you didn’t read it (you should!) it’s about using game elements to help teach your employees. Gamification is an excellent way to handle ongoing training needs because it brings an element of fun to an otherwise boring task. Who really wants to be nose deep in a book with a pen and paper to learn al the time?
Have content for all learning styles
Your trainees are not likely to learn the same way. Sure, you’ll probably have a couple of bookworms that love the traditional reading and note taking approach and won’t mind a lecture style session. But, you’ll probably have others who want something more interactive and engaging. This is where having videos, games, and other methods of training will come in handy.
You don’t’ have to have every facet of your call centre training program in every available learning method, because that’s a lot of stuff to prepare and coordinate. But, do your best to create a program that incorporates various styles of content to cater to verbal, visual, aural and physical learning styles.
See other people – role play
Break off into pairs – with a trainer for each trainee. If you don’t have that many trainers, have a group of trainers sit and observe the exercise. The trainer should be the customer, and the the trainee the agent. Practice running through a variety of call scenarios – happy customer, irate customer, follow-up call, and more.
Conduct assessments throughout your call centre training
Don’t wait til the end of your call centre training to test the trainees on everything they learned. Expect training to take about six weeks – and in that time, you’re cramming a lot of information in. If you wait until the end, you won’t necessarily see people who are struggling along the way. Testing periodically throughout helps you see who is struggling with what as it happens, so you can help them before you add new information.
Get Agent Feedback
Set the tone for open communication between employees and management by asking them to provide feedback about the training program. You want to know how the trainees feel about it so you can make adjustments as necessary to keep the program as engaging as possible. Naturally, you won’t be able to please everyone all the time – I mean, come on, you’re not pizza – but at least you’ll get insight into what your trainees and trainers are thinking about the program.
Call centre work is stressful, but with the right training, your new recruits will be well on their way to a fulfilling career. When your recruits are happy, your trainers are happy. This keeps everything running smoothly and reduces the risk of turnover. You, as the manager get to breathe a sigh of relief when you see your team operating like a well oiled machine. Focus efforts on implementing any selection of tips here, and you’ll see a difference in the dynamic of your training process.
For more hints on how to run an effective outbound sales call centre, download our ebook The psychology of a high performance contact centre today.
Image via FlickrCC/Onny Carr