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Contact Center Training: What is it, why you need it, & 8 hacks to do it right!




The sound of keyboards clicking fills the space. Your agents speak rapidly and confidently with clients. The customer satisfaction score is through the roof. Everything is going as planned.


Isn’t that every contact center manager’s dream? You wish everything would go smoothly every day. And while that may be wishful thinking, you can improve how your agents perform at work through effective contact center training.


So, what does this training do? Let’s take a look.


What is contact center training?

As it sounds, contact center training is a program to help your agents develop skills and aptitude to handle daily customer interactions. There is a training module for all contact center staff, from frontline employees to backend executives.


You can pick from a variety of techniques, like:


Culture training: To teach your agents about the company culture and how it influences every customer interaction.


Personality tests: Your agents have to deal with all types of customers daily. These tools help them understand the different personality types and how to best deal with them.


Social media training: It is needed because your customers often contact your agents through a social media platform. Preparing them to handle customer interactions publicly can help avoid mistakes that can go viral and adversely impact the company's image.


Contact center training is inevitable for your center’s success. And not just because handling customers can get challenging for your agents. Let’s see what makes this a crucial activity.

 

Why is contact center training important?

Here’s why it is essential to train your contact center agents.


It promotes professional advancement.

Your employees want to be upskilled as it makes them more desirable within your organization and as a professional. It uplifts their morale and keeps them motivated. Training polishes them into professionals who can handle difficult situations. In fact, three of the top five reasons for your agents to look for job opportunities outside are linked to the pursuit of new skills.


It lowers the turnover rate.

Contact center training is not confined to agents needing performance improvement measures. Your star performers also need training. It shows them you care enough to upgrade their knowledge and skill level and keeps them from looking outside your organization to advance their career.


Profit margins rise.

Trained agents can do their jobs better and lower maintenance and corrective costs. They can handle customers well and forge stronger relationships, thus enhancing customer satisfaction scores. Briefly put, well trained agents offer your customers a better experience and ultimately, profits follow.


To prepare a training program, you need a method best suited to your organization. There are five types of contact center training. Let’s take a look.


Types of contact center training

You can choose one or more of these five training types depending on what suits your agents. Keep in mind that offering a bouquet of training modules can be more engaging to a variety of employees.


Classroom Training

Did you picture a room full of students facing a teacher and a board? You can choose to have that setup or go for a more relaxed ambiance that instructor-led sessions, workshops and group activities provide. This traditional training method can prove highly effective due to its simplicity of approach and execution.


Live Call Training

It is like training on the job and shows the true mettle of your staff. Teaching your agents how to swim by throwing them in the river can bring to your knowledge who can survive on their own and who will need a float. Coaching during live calls shows how well your agents can apply their training to actual job scenarios and handle customer interactions under pressure.


Online Training

The pandemic taught organizations to always be prepared to take their daily activities online. Many agents now prefer handling customer calls from their homes through cloud contact centers. You can set up online modules or webinars to ensure every agent can access training sessions.


One-On-One

Yes, it means sitting individually with each agent and training them personally. Sounds hard? It is.


But if done well, it proves to be highly effective, especially for new agents at the time of onboarding. That is when you can glimpse the fresh hire’s strengths and weaknesses and chart an improvement plan.


Mentoring

Don’t confuse it with one-on-one sessions, as mentoring doesn’t end after a session or two; it continues for the complete employment tenure of your agent. The mentor needs to forge a strong bond with the mentees. It can be difficult and time consuming but proves to be highly productive for the agents as it helps them grow professionally.


If time constraint is your main concern, you can encourage your agents to find a suitable mentor or coach, apply for external mentoring programs, or nudge experienced executives to help out their fellow agents.


If training your contact center staff well seems like rocket science to you, here are a few tricks that can come in handy.


8 hacks for contact center training every manager should know


These eight tips will help you train your agents well.


#1 Convey goals clearly

Ever had goals you thought were unachievable or vague but didn’t have the courage to speak up about?


Letting all agents know what is expected of them and why is important. But above all, ensure everyone knows their goals well. Set clear and achievable goals, and don’t leave any room for doubts. Make your agents comfortable enough to ask questions so they can remove uncertainties.


#2 Utilize analytics and data

If you think accurate data analysis is challenging, try accessing files from a software tool that doesn’t support your operations well enough. First, switch to a platform that gives a holistic view of all contact center processes and offers easy access to in-depth analysis.


#3 Offer in-depth technical training during onboarding

To make your agents hit the ground running and get comfortable with different software tools, start training them technically from day one on the job. Prepare them for what lies ahead. They would know what to expect and will grow better at it sooner.


#4 Emphasize continuous (and customized) training

You may want to sit with every agent and coach them in real time while on the job. But, time constraints and hybrid or remote working models may get in the way. Moreover, there are several skills you would want your agents trained in: customer interaction, handling a crisis, comforting an irate client, and technical and soft skills. You can't hold their hands all the time.


To ensure their continuous training, you can instead rely on technology like online meetings and coaching tools. They will act in your stead and ensure your staff acquires the skills they need to do their job well.


#5 Develop a buddy ecosystem

Rely on your agents’ fellow and senior colleagues who have seen it all and been with your organization for a while. They qualify as good trainers. It also gives the manager a break from the constant hand holding needed by some agents, especially the freshly onboarded ones.

You can pair them up in a buddy system where each agent has a senior colleague to turn to for doubts and queries.


#6 Develop a knowledge base

This can include materials on training, brand equity, and products and services. It can be the Bible for your agents to turn to when they have questions. Make it readily accessible to all.

Ask your agents what information to include in the knowledge base. Include FAQs and quick references for common queries.


#7 Reward milestone achievements

Everyone loves a reward. Ensure your agents receive one whenever they achieve a milestone, perform well, outdo their peers, or for team efforts. These rewards could be tokens of appreciation like a gift card or public shoutouts. It boosts your agents' engagement and productivity and motivates them to do better at the workplace.


#8 Upgrade your training regularly

Like your agents’ skillsets and the software tools you employ, your training programs also need a regular upgrade. Not doing this can lead to recurring challenges and service gaps.

While you can count on these tricks for effective contact center training, choosing the right software does half your job.


How to pick the right tool, you ask? Here’s what you can do.


How to choose the right contact center training tool?

Look for these top qualities to pick the best suited contact center training software.


Accessibility

In a hybrid working model, your agents work from within the office and outside. The training tool should be accessible remotely, via website and app, to make it available where your staff is. The tool should display training modules, their scores, and other data related to the agent’s training progress.


Customization

The tool should be customizable as per your center’s needs. You should be able to pick and create the modules, select the skills you want to train your agents in, schedule personalized training sessions, and closely monitor the agent’s training progress in real time.


Automation

Robust AI-powered tools offer features like automated scoring of your agents’ daily customer interactions on several parameters, including active listening, the quality of opening and closing statements, and introduction and empathy level, among others.


Proper training can make your agents shine in the workplace. They develop the skills needed to do their daily job and grow in their careers.


Wondering what skills they develop through proper training? Below listed are a few.

 

Contact center training: An agent’s armor

An untrained agent is like a soldier without armor in a battle. And their defenses need a refill or an upgrade every now and then.


Today, employees know what they want from their jobs and what they need to improve. That’s why businesses in the US spent $101.8 billion on corporate training this year. Managers realize how critical contact center training is to retain agents willing to quit if not offered adequate learning opportunities.

 

FAQs

How often should contact center agents undergo training?

It depends on job complexity, agents’ skill and experience level, industry practices and the company’s budget. But, ideally, your agents should undergo training every 3-6 months.


What role does leadership play in contact center training?

Leaders foresee customer expectations and agents’ requirements. They equip their teams to better serve the customers and optimally utilize technology to improve business results.


How can contact centers balance legal and ethical considerations in training?

One way is to provide experiential training in legal and ethical dilemmas. This can be done through case studies, role plays, and live training during an ongoing call.

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