Training in the workplace can be very helpful. But when it’s not handled properly, it can also be a nightmarish waste of time and resources. So how can you make sure your call center employee training is useful and effective?
Empower Agents to Make Emotional Connections
Your mother probably lectured you once or twice on the subject of “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Team members who can connect with their callers are far more likely to make a sale or solve an issue. The key is getting the right agents connected to the right callers and then helping those agents make a connection.
It all starts with good virtual call center software, which routes callers to the best agent for that call. The next step is up to your agents: callers are attuned to undertones of sarcasm or frustration, but they will also respond to empathy and kindness.
Teach your employees how to make a connection using empathy statements, actively putting themselves in the caller’s shoes. Whenever possible, encourage your agents to avoid using negative words, even something as simple as “no”.
Teach Agents Who They Really Are
We’ve all seen that one person screaming at an airline gate agent because a flight is late. We’ve probably even empathized with the agent. After all, it’s not their fault that flight from Phoenix had to turn around for a repair.
Yet at the same time, that agent is the official face of the airline to that particular angry customer. The agent isn’t acting in a private capacity, and at least for the moment, that’s the only person the customer can work with.
Help your agents understand that they are the face and representatives of the company to callers. Of course, it’s frustrating when people get angry about something an agent can’t change, but at the moment of the call, the agent represents the entire company.
Personalize Training in Meaningful Ways
People are not all alike. There are more than 70 different types of learning styles, broadly categorized into four types of learners: visual learners, kinesthetic learners, auditory learners, and reading/writing learners.
A reading/writing learner will happily take technical training material, carefully (and usually quickly) read over every word, and get to it. A visual learner will do much better having that information presented with pictures to illustrate the concepts. Auditory learners want you to explain out loud, while kinesthetic learners may not really get it until they get their hands on the equipment and go to work.
If you don’t know what type of person you’re dealing with, or if you have to train a large group, try to incorporate elements of all the learning styles into your training. This way you can be sure there’s something for everyone.
Get Agents Training Agents
Some bosses and managers misunderstand their role. They seem to think that their job is to be better at every job in the company than any of the people under them. With this idea in mind, they want to run every training, put their mark on every project, and second-guess every action.
A great manager doesn’t need to be the best at every job at the company. He or she needs to know how to identify the best and then motivate them to excel. This means managers might not necessarily be the ideal trainers.
Do you have some exceptional agents? Get them in on training. Implement mentoring schemes that reward excellent agents for helping new agents get good numbers fast. Have new agents shadow the best so they can learn what works and get their questions answered.
Remember that training doesn’t always have to take place in a formal session. Sometimes the things you say one-on-one or the way you and your agents respond to the ordinary events of the day end up being the best training you could provide.