When it comes to running any business, irrespective of its kind or nature, the workforce of the company in question is instrumental in determining its success or failure. When we say workforce, we are basically referring to each employee of the company; that is because a company cannot move forward without the collaborative effort of the employees. Similarly in the case of your call center business, the contact center agents who deal with cloud contact center software and interact with customers form the backbone of the entire organisation.
In most contact centers, there is usually a hierarchy that is maintained. All the employees are segregated into a number of teams, based on their forte and their skills. Each team has a team leader, who is more experienced and has been in the business longer. Each agent and employee works together as a team to attain the same goals. Now, in this organised structure, where do your new agents fit in?
It is a known fact that all companies hire newer staff members on a regular basis. They do that to stir things up, get new talent and eventually enhance their business. When your new agents come in, how do you treat them? Do you treat them as beings from another universe, or do you accept them as one of your own? Do you introduce them to the operations and ease them in or do you simply ask them to get to work?
In most companies, the orientation process isn’t all that complicated. But when it comes to cloud calling solutions, the orientation and the introduction has to be elaborate and detailed. That is mainly because the business entails a whole lot of nitty gritty which an outsider may not be familiar with. Now usually it is the team leader who is given responsibility for the same. However, we know that it can be a daunting task. That is why we have come up with about 20 tips that can help you train your new agents. One word of advice before we start – remember that you too were in their position a while back, and put yourself in their shoes.
1. Before you even think of proceeding to the next steps, you need to start with an introduction. When a new member joins your team, it is important to introduce them to the other members. After all, you would all be working together and working on the same projects. Helping your new agent warm up to your old ones would work to your advantage.
2. As part of your orientation process, you need to acquaint your new employee with the ways of the business. Before the employee starts work at your company, he should be absolutely familiar with the way your company functions, the cloud calling software you use, the way you deal with customers, the way customer interactions are carried out and so on. You need to educate your new team members about the customer goals, the aims you have and what you strive to achieve so that they can start prepping beforehand.
3. When you are working in a company, you must be having a fixed schedule. This schedule works like a company plan of what you must be doing and when you must be doing it. In cloud call centers, it is extremely important to adhere to the schedule. This is something you must convey to the new team member at the very beginning. Some trainees may have a tendency to take schedules for granted. Make it clear that is not okay and that it will not be accepted.
4. Introduce the new members to the best performing agents. As a matter of fact, it is better to have these agents form an important part of the training process. You see, these agents are one who have already worked with the same goals and have successfully met the targets. In fact, they’ve shown excellence in the particular field. That is something your new agents should strive to do as well.
5. In the case of call centers, there are various kinds of call handling practices. These are basically like tricks and tactics which can assist you while you deal and interact with customers. When these new agents come in, it cannot be expected that they would be familiar with it. However, it is your duty to familiarise them with it. You need to inform them about the best practices you know of.
6. When new agents come in, they usually have one question: “What is my role here?”. This is something you need to answer while you train your new agents. Not only will you be explaining the business goals and requirements to your agents, but also what is expected of them. You need to explain what their actual purpose in the company is, what their role is in the expansion of your company and how they fit into the bigger picture.
7. As a company, you must be having certain goals and objective that you have to reach within this financial year. Now, you need to acquaint your new agents with these goals and objectives. How else are they supposed to know what they are expected to do? If you educate your agents at the very beginning, they would be working at it with a zeal from the very first day. That is just the inspiration they need.
8. Each call center has a certain etiquette that they follow. This etiquette has been developed because it helps you and your team achieve excellence. Your new team members should be made aware of it. They need to know what is acceptable and what is not, what they are permitted to do and what could have negative consequences for them. This is the first thing they need to be informed of.
9. You cannot treat all your new agents the same. When you hire new members, you usually have three or four people joining at once. You need to train each agent individually and give special attention to all of them. Some agents might find it hard to deal with cloud based call center solutions while some might take more time than usual to understand the operations. This is something you have to take into account.
10. When your new agents join, they must be having a gazillion questions in mind. And worse still, they might be embarrassed to speak up and ask you directly. Encourage them to speak up and hone their communication skills. More than that, train your agents to get answers to their own questions. They should know what or who to turn to when they need answers to their questions.
11. Include other forms of media in your training programs. No one wants to listen to their superiors rambling on about company goals and objectives, duties, responsibilities and so on. Now with the advancement of technology, you should be able to make the most of it. Use videos as part of your training. Watching relevant videos will help your agents understand better.
12. Now your training program needs to be practical and hands on. Before you start the training session, you would be coming up with a plan anyway. Make sure it doesn’t become too preachy and impractical. Do not set impossible goals for your agents. Ease them into the process. Explain, communicate, understand, ask questions – these are some things that you need to keep in mind.
13. Call recordings are a must when it comes to training your agents. As a modern call center, you must use a call center cloud software that allows you to record calls. Go through the calls that have been recorded. Separate the exceptional calls that you think show your agents at their best. Make your new agents listen to these recordings. That way, if they are in a similar pickle, they can take the help of these call recordings.
14. Now you must already have a system in place that allows you to monitor your agents and more so in the case of your new agents. After your training program when your agents get to work, monitor their progress constantly. Listen to their calls, interact with them, guide them and evaluate the way your agents are performing. If there’s scope for improvement, convey the message to them and help them out!
15. What you and your new agents must understand is that the call center business is a pretty dynamic one. It is constantly on the move and it is evolving every day. In such situations, there is a need for improvement in every sphere. If the new members of your team are stagnant and not susceptible to improvement, that brings down the team as a whole. This is something you must explain to the new agents.
16. There are key performance indicators that can segregate between high performing agents and low performing agents. The training expert or the team leader needs to be able to distinguish between the two and should not focus all his time on the low performing agents. Instead, they should be able to divide the time judiciously and use it as they see fit.
17. Training shouldn’t be verbal or one way only. You need to devise training strategies that will inculcate actions in your agents. After having completed your training program, they should be moved to action. Isn’t that the desired result of every training program anyway? If your agents aren’t motivated enough to get a move on, then what is the whole purpose of investing so much of time and money into training anyway?
18. Training programs need to be consistent. A program that is not consistent or is fluctuating constantly would confuse your agents and might lead to negative consequences. Most supervisors tend to ignore this aspect. However, if you were to carefully analyse the minute details of your program, you would probably realise that it isn’t very consistent. This is something you need to work on.
19. Do not forget your customers. The call center business is very customer centric. All your services, call center cloud solutions and business changing decisions revolve entirely around this one aspect. Naturally, you need to make sure that your training program too is targeted at the customer. That will come in handy to the new agents when they handle the customers in the future.
20. Also, last but not the least, you need to remember that training is a continuous process. You might think that the training ends with the end of the program; however, that’s not the case. As we said, the field of call centers is evolving with every passing day. Naturally, one needs to stay up to date with all the latest trends and developments. Here, we aren’t simply referring to your new agents, we’re referring to your old agents as well. They need to be receptive to the new trends and should be able to inculcate that into their existing practices as well.
The case study
When we speak of training your new agents, we aren’t just talking about introducing them to the business; we are speaking of helping them feel at home in your company. It means providing a warm and nurturing environment where your agents can grow, learn and hone their skills. Call Centres India carried out a case study of training programs and how they actually work. According to them, the training programs aren’t simply about training but all about mentoring.
The objective of the case study was to provide an enriching customer interaction for all customers who call up customer care reps. Thus this re-emphasises the fact that customer care is all about the customer. Even the training program in question should be customer centric. We have provided you with a detailed case study which can help you understand your new agents and provide them with a valuable orientation experience. If you are planning to hire new talent at your call center, make sure you go through the case study to understand how to go about it.
The problem and the solution
In the course of this training program, it was first important to identify the supervisors or the training experts. Only those with sufficient expertise in call centre solutions were chosen to lead the program. Firstly, the agents were told about the inconsistency in their performance and were told that they were lagging behind. It was important to bring their attention to the reason why training programs were necessary.
• Once this was done, it was time to assign agents to the mentors. The agents were judged on the basis of their strengths and weaknesses and where they were going wrong. Based on that, they were assigned mentors.
• The mentors were free to devise their own training program. It was decided that they would be the best judge when it comes to planning a training program that would be beneficial to all.
• After the mentoring was completed, the performance of the agents were monitored and analysed.
Thus you see, the training program followed by Call Centres India was a wholesome one – it started with selecting mentors and ended with performance analysis. That is exactly how the training program at your call center must be devised. So the next time you hire new agents, you know exactly what to do.