Contact centers used to be all about driving agents, supervisors and management through daily drills to reach goals and metrics. Satisfying customers was a relatively simple process. But as technology evolved — creating more efficient experiences with each new advancement — customers came to expect more out of contact centers and staff.
Delivering satisfying customer experiences efficiently and effectively now requires a workforce that’s well-trained and equipped with tools that improve workflow. Empowering employees to achieve their greatest potential ensures you have a workforce that’s equipped with the knowledge and skills to deliver the best customer experience.
“Two-thirds of [call centers] overall were ‘behind the curve’ in terms of evolving their traditional call center into a modern customer service operation.”
2018 Call Center Industry Report
Today, customer experiences are measured in more than time-to-resolution. Customer satisfaction also takes into account the process and outcome achieved. Delivering the interactions that customers expect begins with training. You should specifically focus on three core training areas.
- Skills assessment – Recognize what skills your agents are proficient in and what they need to improve.
- Timely training sessions – Make sure employees receive feedback in a timely and efficient manner.
- Personal development plans – Maximize employee potential by creating and executing individualized development plans.
Ensuring you have sufficient support in place to help customers is a high priority for every brand — especially when high churn rates plague the contact center. It might be tempting to expedite training and onboarding processes to meet demands. But organizations that do this find their customer service falls short.
Instead, invest in employee onboarding and ongoing training programs. Recently hired employees often face a mountain of documentation when they join the contact center. From rules and regulations to call scripts and compliance guidelines, they must absorb information quickly. By investing in thorough, efficient training, your brand can move employees to the contact center floor with the confidence that they’re ready to provide exceptional customer experiences.
Coach — don’t just train
Building and bolstering a contact center team requires a solid training program. But developing great agents requires more personalized coaching. There are distinct differences between training your workforce and coaching employees. Understanding the importance of both can create a powerful employee experience that engages agents and conveys your investment in their success.
Training – Company-wide information that addresses the basics, provides general knowledge and measures progress through evaluations.
Coaching – One-on-one sessions to pinpoint and develop skills based on an agent’s specific strengths and weaknesses
When paired with traditional training practices, one-on-one coaching bolsters employee confidence and reduces training time. Additionally, a good training program gives new recruits the opportunity to get hands-on experience by shadowing more established colleagues. It also allows agents to build a support system within the contact center, relying on each other when facing new or particularly difficult challenges.
Identify and bridge employee skill gaps
When agents start their shifts, they walk onto the contact center floor armed with the tools and information your brand provided — as well as their own individual talents. It’s your responsibility to find the best ways to apply their inherent skills so they maximize the positive outcome for each customer interaction. This is where meaningful employee-customer experiences are created.
Start by identifying what employee skills, knowledge and tools drive the best outcomes for your organization. Study top performers within your contact center to understand what makes them successful. Then leverage this information to shape training and coaching to nurture desired skill sets.
Next, consider how you assess your employees’ personal traits. Self-reported skills or observed talents can provide a general idea. Running short, interactive simulations provides more data-driven insights. Then use those insights to define your agents’ skill sets and give them the tools and training that will ensure their success.
Go beyond standard training
Training isn’t all fun and games, but it should be. The grueling nature of the day-to-day grind of contact center work often leads to high levels of attrition. Stress, coupled with a lack of recognition or a non-existent sense of community, will further contribute to those high attrition rates. However, companies that invest in gamification capabilities can flip the script.
“Agents need to enjoy their working environments and feel the atmosphere reflects their value as employees.”
McKinsey on Customer Care: Excellence in the Digital Age Number 1, January 2018
Gamification — the process of leveraging gaming elements to create a more engaging employee experience — is a powerful tool to promote team activities and bonding. Through a fun and friendly competitive dynamic, employees are motivated to do their best individually or as a team while boosting comradery and productivity.
Aside from inspiring employees to work toward goals, gamification enables organizations to strengthen training and skill development through quizzes, challenges and calls to improve KPIs. It also gives employees visibility into their own progress and performance. This makes it easy for agents and supervisors to identify and work on skill or knowledge gaps — and teams can recognize and celebrate each other’s successes.
Customer needs and expectations will continue to evolve. To meet these challenges, your contact center needs a well-equipped, engaged staff ready to deliver superior customer experiences. A robust agent coaching and development process reinforces a sense of community while also making employees feel valued, recognized and empowered to do their best. When you support, train and engage your workforce, retaining them comes naturally.