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Always Learning: 6 Tips to Keep Agent Training Ongoing

June 25, 2019 / Evolve IP

Don’t stop at one and done training for new agents only. Keep your contact center agents on the top of their game with ongoing training. Try these six tips.

Let’s consider Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady. These athletes at the top of their games, but they still train with their teams. Their coaches didn’t just recruit them, introduce them to how the team plays, and leave it at that. Ongoing training is essential to contact center success too.

It’s safe to say your call center provides some sort of onboarding to new hires. This typically includes, but is not limited to:

  • New employee paperwork
  • Distributing the employee handbook
  • Informing the employee about employee behavior, pay, promotions, benefits
  • Assigning the new hire a mentor
  • Introducing the agents to the team
  • Transitioning the hire to the phone floor
  • Scheduling a check-in with manager

Effective onboarding can positively influence agent engagement and employee retention. But agents need to consistently learn about new business goals, changing customers needs/wants, new call center software, and product launches or modifications to deliver better performance results. Help your employees continuously learn to provide the top service experience your customers expect.

 

#1 Vary your training approach

Your contact center may already be providing regular training, but are you doing it the same way every time? Always relying on a Powerpoint presentation, for instance, to get the message across makes the training less effective. Encourage the person offering training to think outside of the box to come up with ways to make training both informative and engaging.

 

#2 Always look for hands-on opportunities

Put the training message you’re trying to convey in a practical context. Use recordings of calls to emphasize the real-life ramifications of the learning. Role-playing will work to some degree, but be sure to take the training out to real-time call handling too. You might:

  • Add a question to post-call paperwork asking employees to reflect on how effectively (or not) they implemented the lessons learned
  • Survey customers post-call with questions that would indicate if the agent is using lessons learned from training
  • Have the peer mentor listen in to a call with that particular learning objective in mind.

 

#3 Use analytics to identify new training areas

With contact center software offering analytics and call recording it’s much easier for your leadership team to identify areas that need work. By analyzing large volumes of agent/customer interactions you can identify trends across the whole agent population. With this information in hand about specific customer service issues, you can give coaching staff guidance about what to focus on in department training and find effective real-life, recorded examples to improve standards.

 

#4 Encourage mentorship to continue

You might have assigned a peer mentor at the outset, but if your company doesn’t continue to value this relationship, the connection can easily fizzle. This should be much more than providing an introduction and letting the experienced employee and new hire take it from there.

  • Provide mentoring tools to the right, experienced agents. Don’t assume that every experienced employee is going to be a great mentor.
  • Create opportunities for mentor and mentee to discuss observed skills and weaknesses. Make 30-day check-ins a part of the relationship at 60 days, 3 months, 6 months.
  • Encourage both mentor and mentee to attend focused discussion (lunch and learns?) with other peer pairs to share experiences and issues and learn from one another.

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#5 Customize development plans

Many centers look at employee attrition rates to see who retains at six months or a year. But what do your first 90 days look like? Three months? These losses can get shrugged off as “not the right fit.” But you might stem these exits with more involvement upfront such as meeting at 60 days to customize training efforts to that individual’s development goals.

View making this plan as a collaboration between agent and supervisor to identify any existing skills and knowledge gaps. This can also be an opportunity to determine individual agent strengths and interests that can benefit the business as a whole. If the agent is particularly interested in a certain area, develop a plan listing steps to take and goals to meet that would help the agent grow in that area.

 

#6 Make praise part of training

We all learn better when we think we’re making progress and our work is appreciated. Recognizing agents who get positive feedback from customers or having supervisors publicly praise those who are doing well helps engagement, but also provides added weight to training efforts. In identifying someone who has done a good job, be specific about what skill or attribute you’ve focused on in training that person was demonstrating.

 

Contact center agent success requires effective training, but the right tools help too. EvolveIP’s award-winning omnichannel cloud contact center dramatically improves customer experience and optimizes agents. Request a demo today!

Categories: Contact Center
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