Call center training, the Miyagi way.
Call center managers constantly look for new methodologies to improve agent productivity with call center training. However, it is easier said than done. Every team is unique, and they need training practices that suit their uniqueness. Here are some of the best practices for call center training.
‘Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.’ – Mr. Miyagi
This is an epic line from the 1984 movie classic – The Karate Kid, in which a teenager goes to Mr. Miyagi to learn Karate. The first lessons are nothing like a karate class, but tedious tasks like painting a fence and waxing cars. These menial jobs later form the basics of karate training in the film.
Whenever I hear the word training, I cannot help but think of The Karate Kid; clichéd yes, I am a movie buff that way. Consistent and valuable training has a significant impact on productivity – both on the eponymous karate kid and call center employees.
The call center industry has radically grown in the last decade. The expectations on call center employees are rather demanding. Customers want their queries resolved quickly and efficiently and want to be handled with immaculate product knowledge and communication skills. But let’s face it: this level of productivity and professionalism is achieved only with consistent, quality training – the Miyagi way.
IBM lately estimated that in three years, 120 million employees across the globe would require retraining, thanks to automation and AI. Amazon is also set to invest more than $700m in the next few years to train more than a million US employees – a full third of its workforce.
These global corporations have started to understand the importance of investing in consistent training of employees, to help them learn new skills, and enhance productivity. Sure, large corporations like Amazon can afford spending big to train employees. But what about smaller businesses and call centers? They do not perhaps spend millions of dollars on training, but yes – they are all looking to implement innovative agent training methodologies to improve productivity.
Huge investments aside, how can training improve agent productivity in call centers?
Call center training is crucial for both new hires and existing employees to refine their skills and feel inspired. Creating a great call center experience that augments customer satisfaction is possible by following the right guidelines for call center training. Training agents to have emotional control in real-call scenarios is as important as having sound knowledge on their products or services. The Miyagi way of call center training is all about making the training repetitive, pertinent to real-life scenarios, and forming a clear connection between training and business goals. Let’s get into some of the finer details of call center training best practices:
1. Training agents as individuals
Motivation is key to personalized training; encouraging employees to interact with each other constructively is a motivational factor in call center training. Agents in a call center most possibly have different professional and personal backgrounds. This diversity can be constructively used to look at new perspectives, indulge in useful debate, and get creative ideas. But this diversity can also mean the knowledge and skill levels of the employees vary.
Using a variety of call center training materials like video, graphics, and text can help address these differences. Some agents may respond more positively to interactive content, while some may prefer to read text material. Microlearning content or short, punchy training material can be an advantage when it comes to addressing the knowledge gap in new hires. For instance, a 10-step checklist on how to initiate a new customer call can be beneficial for a beginner.
Creating a discussion forum where call center agents share their own experiences of work scenarios can be another step towards personalization. Relating to their own experiences on how to handle customer calls can immensely help in delivering better productivity.
2. Training agents based on case studies and hypothetical situations
Call center agents should be given enough practice in handling customer calls long before they get on to the floor to handle real calls. Realistic simulations, role plays, case studies, and recordings from real call center interactions will help agents develop decision-making skills. This can make for a crucial platform for agents to make mistakes and learn from them without impacting the customer.
3. Fostering a culture of social learning
Peer-to-peer learning, together with quality training material, can make for an engaging and impactful call center training program. Social learning can also be in the form of online forums and webinars. Appointing a senior agent as a mentor to a group of beginners or assigning training buddies can effectively improve productivity.
4. Bridging training and KPIs
Understanding the purpose forms a crucial aspect of call center training. Training becomes more effective when agents understand the importance of training for their job and personal development.
Communicating with agents about the goals of training and their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can make agents more driven and engaged. These employees strive harder to reach their goals and deliver better results, resulting in improved productivity.
5. Building open communication channels
Call center agents of a business are in the direct line of customer feedback – they are the first hear and understand customer feedback before anyone else in the organization. Agents need a safe and open communication platform to share feedback from customers. These platforms prove to be invaluable during and after training. Discussion forums where feedback is discussed and questions are answered, provide an enriching training experience.
6. Choosing the right call center software for agents
Progressive businesses delivering the right customer service give utmost importance to the needs and preferences of customers. Call centers need to build tech stacks that empower agents to perform effectively. To deliver unmatched service and increase agent productivity, companies must evaluate and pick the right call center software, and train the agents to use them for optimal results.
7. Thinking beyond product training
Call center agents need to be prepared and stay updated with thorough product knowledge to support customers effectively. But there is more to product knowledge – call center agents often deal with frustrated and irate customers. Training agents to create an emotional connection with such customers help them resolve the tough issues, thus improving customer satisfaction.
In-depth training goes beyond basic call center training and focuses on communicating with empathy and keeping callers engaged, without dead air. This is as important as product training. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and conflict management training can additionally improve an agent’s service delivery.
8. Putting recorded calls to use
Call center training best practices include recording agents’ calls and use them for training purposes. Real calls can help agents learn from mistakes and makes the training more personalized. Call recordings help identify areas of improvement and showcase areas where the agents are already performing well.
Customer expectations evolve. Call center agents need to be adaptive to evolving customer expectations, and the training must be structured around it. Rather than making the training a one-time event for new hires, experienced agents should also be included in training sessions to keep them razor-focused.
The Miyagi way of training stresses upon teaching the basics right, fostering a culture of growth, and fine-tuning employees with continuous development. Regular training updates, adding new scenarios and simulations, new checklists, and social learning opportunities, can all make call center training a continuous process. Imparting agent training is a learning process for trainers too. The world never stops teaching, so why stop learning?
Illustrations by Nikhil Kanda.
Freshcaller is a modern-day call center software for customer support, sales, IT, and HR teams. With Freshcaller’s cloud-based architecture, it brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced capabilities like Smart Escalations, Custom Call Center Analytics to help you set up a state-of-the-art business call center. Freshcaller offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.
If you want to find out more about what we do, check out www.freshcaller.com
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