Not every candidate who is hired to work in a call center comes with customer service experience. They may be friendly, outgoing, and patient, but they likely do not (yet) have the knowledge and call center-specific skills they will need to succeed. Since a lack of adequate training is a major contributor to attrition in call centers, it is vital to create a call center training program that works.
Do not worry! There are some useful tips that can help inexperienced new hires blossom.
We recommend advising new agents about what to expect when working in a call center, so they will have a realistic picture of the job. But highlight some of the fun things they can expect to encounter in their new job. It is not all cranky callers and complaints!
Help new folks get an immediate feel for company culture. Give them a tour of the facility and introduce them to folks in departments beyond the call center, so they can get the big picture and make connections out of the gate. Ask the CEO to stop in and give a personal welcome.
To ensure the training program is successful over time, the process of onboarding new hires should be consistent. By creating a formal checklist trainers can use, every new employee will receive consistent training, creating a best practice approach. Nothing will be overlooked, even as trainers work individually with people to provide extra coaching or skills development.
Any new job can feel intimidating. Assigning a mentor or “buddy” to each new hire ensures they always have a go-to friend to assist them. There is typically only one formal manager, but a buddy or mentor can provide one-on-one moral support as well as “insider” guidance on handling calls and the day-to-day call center experience.
Many times we wait until the end or “graduation” from the training program to provide feedback. Instead, provide feedback daily, or in “real time.” Feedback — positive or corrective — that is given closest to the action it references has the greatest impact. The ultimate goal is new agent success, and offering frequent feedback helps set them up for that. Keep up the feedback, in a less formal way, over the next weeks and months.
This is not merely a cliché. Statistics show that when we feel we are part of a team, we work harder to not let our team down. Creating a team culture will enhance learning and the entire training experience. That helps new hires get comfortable faster, increasing the likelihood that they will stick around longer.
As trainers and managers, we can become convinced that “we know best,” because we have been doing the job forever. However, we can still learn a few new tricks, too, if we listen. New employees come from a variety of backgrounds, and many times they have great feedback to offer about our processes. Their different perspective can suggest tweaks or bigger changes that enhance the call center work experience or improve customer experiences.
Even better, listen to experienced agents as well. As the folks on the front line of customer contact, they can provide valuable insight into improvements or other changes.
Every manager knows that time is money, so it can be tempting to try to cram training into a too-short period of time. The most successful programs give new hires a transition period following formal training. Newly-fledged agents can begin to take simple calls under supervision rather than being put out onto the floor in a “sink or swim” environment. The more controlled situation allows agents to get a feel for the physical rhythm of handling calls as well as the personal side of handling customer contacts.
Spending more time on initial training and ongoing coaching may cost more up front, but it is an investment that will repay itself in higher quality, more productive, and happier agents who are much more likely to stay in their jobs longer. With a positive approach, mentors, lots of feedback, and active listening in your tool kit, call center training can transform inexperienced new hires into great agents.
Publish Date: March 7, 2019 5:00 AM
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