“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” – Kevin Stirtz, Author and Web Marketing Expert.
Customer experience can make or break a business. Hence, you need to go the extra mile to enhance client interactions. Contact centres are the key components of customer interactions, so it makes sense to train contact centre agents to deliver, as well as exceed expectations.
A large number of businesses are making a conscious effort in this direction. According to a study by Peppers and Rogers Group, 65% of companies are focusing on setting up training programs and other skill enhancement tools to help their agents win the trust of the customers.
When it comes to training your remote working agents, things get a tad more challenging. The best approach would be to revisit and rework contact centre agent onboarding and training programs quickly to accommodate a remote set-up. The initiative can make all the difference, as it makes your CX strategy future-ready. Here are some measures you can follow to design a successful learning experience for your agents.
Get your strategy right
First things first, you will need a strategic plan to get started with training for a remote working environment. Things are very different in an online model without the luxury of conducting a face-to-face session physically. The new program must work for individuals and teams alike, ensuring that they have guidance at hand throughout the day even in the absence of an instructor.
Ensure a mix of compliance and practicality
Typical training programs hinge on static information instead of dynamic capabilities, with a greater focus on compliance. However, this will not work in the current situation wherein customers have unique problems and issues. New recruits won’t be able to resolve these queries with only basic training and rigid scripts. Blending compliance with practicality is the need of the hour. You need to empower agents with practical customer handling tips rather than scripts so that they can take an intuitive approach to resolve issues efficiently.
Have a clear view of the learning outcomes
With traditional call centre training programs, learning outcomes are often ambiguous. As a result, your learning content could fail to match the needs and expectations of the training. A clear view of the learning outcomes right from the outset can make all the difference to the viability of the program. Visualise what the agents may need to know, especially in a remote environment, and how they will be able to handle the situation. The insights can help you create the best learning content and train the agents to handle unique situations using the most feasible actions.
Keep it short and simple
An e-learning course differs from traditional sessions in terms of duration. The average span of an e-learning session should be somewhere between 5-30 minutes. Shorter sessions are easier to accommodate within the agent’s schedule, translating into greater adherence even as they work from home. Apart from keeping the sessions short, you need to make them easy to understand, so that they ensure higher levels of engagement.
Use your current learning management system
Even as you revamp your training program for remote agents, it makes sense to use the current LMS to your advantage. You can upload the learning assets on it so that all agents have instant access to relevant information. It even helps you keep track of their progress and assess their learning with tests. Agents can set their own pace and learning path according to their convenience. And all this while, managers can supervise and aid their team wherever necessary.
Embrace a blended learning approach
Engagement and adherence of remote contact centre agents depend on the learning environment you create for them. A pleasant and informative learning experience sticks and ensures great performance as well. Right now, a blended approach is the best way to go.
You need a mix of occasional classroom and continued remote training to ensure round the clock availability for the team. Consider appointing seasoned agents in the role of peer coaches so that they can mentor the new hires and make them comfortable with the process till they are confident and equipped to be on their own.
Align the program for new and existing agents
Training programs mainly focus on new recruits. But your existing agents would also require aid during a transition. A training program that addresses the needs of both new and existing employees puts your organisation in a good place. You have smarter people who are able to handle the complex issues of callers, regardless of their experience levels. Even as you have a program that caters to everyone, it makes sense to have shorter modules for experienced agents and comprehensive ones for new hires.
When you implement a new online learning program, you may end up overlooking the testing component. However, you can simply cover testing by adding a variety of modalities such as audio/chat/emails of real customer interactions. Pick ones that include conflicts and best practices so that agents have a clear idea of both. As a result, agents will be able to handle them with confidence when they encounter such queries first-hand. You can go the extra mile by using role-playing as a testing tool. It helps agents practice their skills on a third-party before they get down to work with real customers.
Scalability needs to be on top of your mind when designing a training program for contact centre agents. The industry is dynamic, and customer expectations are ever-evolving. Unless your agents are equipped with the skills-in-demand, it will be hard to keep up with trends and expectations. A scalable program is one that enables you to update your learning easily, without requiring complex programming or professional support. It saves time and money, and agents have access to the latest information right away.
Focus on performance
The primary objective of training programs is to ramp up employee skills, and this applies to contact centre training as well. Your program needs to focus on producing seasoned and well-equipped agents who take efficiency and customer satisfaction metrics in the right direction. Many training programs often ignore this objective and end up being only a training guide that helps agents pass a test. Your aim should be to improve performance for the long haul and enhanced customer service.
Training is the key to success for contact centre agents, whether they have recently joined your team or been around for a while. You need to provide them with the best customer handling tips and essential information for comprehending concepts and resolving queries. Simplicity and clarity are vital, and so is the real-world application of these skills.