In our last blog post, we talked about how employee turnover rate can often be 100%+ annually in a contact center.  It goes without saying – employee turnover can significantly impact the bottom line of your business.  To reduce this turnover rate, you should be laser focused on employee experience.  We have talked about tools and onboarding being critical to the employee experience.  This month, as part of our ongoing series on employee experience, we focus on arguably the most important aspect of your employees’ journey – training!  (PS – If you want to catch up on our employee experience series, you can start here.)

“There are two ways in which a manager can impact employee’s output: motivation and training.  If you are not training, then you are basically neglecting half the job.”

-Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel

The Heartbeat of Every Company

The contact center is the heartbeat of every company.  It’s where customers connect with your brand and it’s how you deliver a great experience to them.  In today’s world, customer expectations are higher than ever before, which means contact center employees must be trained at a much higher level than in the past.

Customer are Becoming More and More Demanding

Customers today have higher expectations than ever before.  Not only are they demanding more personalized experiences, but they also want instant service and a fast response time.  And with the emergence of social media as a primary channel through which customers communicate with brands, it’s even more important to ensure your agents are well-trained in handling customer concerns and complaints.

Training is Much More Than Onboarding

Training is about much more than onboarding; it is about ongoing coaching, using the right tools, and keeping people engaged so they can deliver excellent experiences for customers.

The days of training being a once-a-year event are long gone.  Today, companies need to provide regular training that helps agents improve their skills and stay up to date with business changes.  Ongoing training enables your organization to maintain high levels of customer service while reducing turnover.

Advanced Technology in the Contact Center

Technology is transforming how we learn and how we train our agents.  This technology can teach new skills, track performance, manage coaching and feedback sessions, conduct testing and assessment, and be used to effectively communicate with colleagues around the world.  The days of traditional training are ending as new technologies emerge and allow for greater efficiency and personalization.

Incentives and Gamification

Using incentives and gamification is a great example of using advanced technology in contact center training.  Gamification is the process of using game-thinking and game-mechanics to engage users with a fun and rewarding learning environment.  Gabe Zichermann, author of The Gamification Rule, says, “people may be motivated by getting a gift card, but what really drives them is recognition (as well as) status, access, power and stuff.”  Along these lines, you can set agents up with their own performance dashboard, so they can see and monitor their own progress.

Speech Analytics

Call centers are also turning to speech analytics to help with training in the contact center.  Speech analytics uses keywords to identify specific issues on calls, specific issues with agents, as well as issues that may be trending throughout the call center.  This data can be used to offer individualized micro-training to agents.

As an example, speech analytics can identify a specific training need and then offer the agent targeted training for that need with a quick tutorial.   Agents may receive an on-screen message like, “Click here when you have 6 minutes to complete this training.”

Self-Serve Knowledge

A self-serve knowledge base is another great technology tool to offer your agents.  A knowledge base is a “self-serve” repository of information where agents can find the answers they need quickly and easily. Some knowledge management systems even allow you to designate documents either available for internal or public consumption, so you can offer this knowledge base to employees and customers alike.

Remember Training Isn’t One Size Fits All

Training is often thought of as one size fits all.  But the truth is, training needs to be customized to each employee’s unique needs and delivered in a way that is relevant to them.  Take time to assess new employees’ current knowledge or levels or experience, so you can target the training to his/her learning gaps.  This will ensure training is relevant to the trainee and the trainee is more engaged

Training in the contact center should include a variety of different modalities – from online courses, in-person classes, role-playing, to one-on-one mentoring.  Agents should have the ability to access training videos and knowledge systems on demand at their convenience.

Remember, each employee comes with their own personality, preferences, background, and experiences.  Employees will find it much easier to absorb information when it is presented in a way that makes sense for them—whether that is through an engaging video or hands-on learning.

To gain a better understanding of each employee’s personality and learning-style, you could administer tests like 16 Personalities Free Assessment, The DiSC Profile, the Predictive Index Assessment, or the enneagram test offered by Ian Morgan Cron.

Agents Go from Good to Great with Soft Skills Training

Educating new agents about your company and giving them the technical skills they will need to do their job is just the tip of the “training iceberg.”  A great agent needs to master soft skills – empathy, patience, and active listening.  You need to teach agents how to connect emotionally with customers.

Customer Experience Simulation

To reinforce this training, you could offer agents the opportunity to do a customer experience simulation which is the reverse of role playing.  Instead of interacting with a mock customer, the agent takes on the role of customer and goes through the process of purchasing your product or service.  This is a fantastic opportunity for agents to see roadblocks and troubleshoot from the customer’s perspective.

Mentoring

You could also offer new employees the opportunity to work side-by-side with seasoned, top employees.  This is a great way for agents to see and emulate not only the “basics” of their job but also to experience refined soft skills in action.

Closing the Loop

Receiving feedback from your employees is critical to the ongoing training process.  Ask your employees for feedback on anything and everything.  Without this feedback you are faced with employees who feel stifled and frustrated.  Did you know, “82% of employees have ideas on how they think things can get better but feel like no one is listening.”  It’s not good enough to simply receive feedback.  You need to close the feedback loop by acknowledging the feedback and letting your employees know what you are going to do with it.

Conclusion

As you can see, training is an essential part of a contact center. Whether it’s onboarding new employees or ongoing coaching for existing ones, there is always something to learn and improve upon. Contact centers have always been important but with the increasing number of consumers who expect high levels of service 24/7 and don’t want to wait long times before they can get through to someone who knows them personally, they’ve become even more so now than ever before!  Have questions about training in the contact center?  Send us a message or schedule a call.  We’d love to chat!

Stay tuned for the last in our series on employee experience, when next month we delve into corporate culture – when your employees believe in your culture, your customers will too!