Want to improve your CX? Start with your agents’ soft skills training.
Call center training is an integral part of delivering a great customer experience. During the process, you cultivate habits and knowledge within your agents that shape outcomes across the customer service journey.
- Corporate Training Methods
- How to Craft a Great Training Exercise
- Planning Your Soft Skills Agent Training Program
- Start With Your PBX system
- Conducting the Agent Training
- Call Center Agent Training Methods & Materials
- Testing New Skills
- Enhance call center soft skills training with LiveVox Workforce Engagement Management
Call center training programs can consist of hard skills exercises like how to use software and product knowledge, soft skills training like active listening and effective communication, business writing, and time management training.
But today the onboarding process looks a lot different than even a year ago. As call center management teams embraced remote work and distributed team models, the training process also took on a different look. Empowering agents to maximize every interaction with customers requires a mix of training solutions. In this article, we outline a few customer service training ideas management teams can implement to enhance specific agent skill sets and improve employee performance.
Corporate Training Methods
New LiveVox Research shows that onboarding and training are critical to an agent’s experience at your organization with 66% of contact center agents lacking the right training and tools to solve customer problems.
Creating better call center training practices can have a long-lasting impact on performance, engagement, and, most importantly, retention.
Giving your agents a path forward is key to retaining them. Leverage the tools already at your disposal to make sure your agents are engaged and feel supported.
You can design onboarding program materials that consider:
- Role-specific knowledge
- System operating competency
- Best practices for customer service
Download the eBook for free here.
How to Craft a Great Training Exercise
A great learning experience starts with a plan. Let’s have a look at what you should consider when developing various learning programs and skills activities for your call center.
Planning Your Soft Skills Agent Training Program
Define training goals
Learning objectives are a key part of effective training sessions. Onboarding objectives for new hires should include:
- Understand your organization, products, and call center operations
- Understand your organization’s mission, core values, and vision
- Understand where their role in achieving your organization’s goals
- Ability to operate call center software
- Call center best practices
- Understand their role in building customer relationships
Outline the goal of each lesson and work backward to develop training materials that teaches that objective.
Define who your “students” are
Both new and veteran agents alike benefit from education in the workplace. New hires learn your organization’s standards and the skills they need to best serve your customers. A renewed learning strategy benefits veteran agents by closing performance gaps and increasing agent engagement.
Identify who your students are and design lesson plans directed at them.
Diversify your training experience
A great learning experience benefits from learner engagement. Studies show that when students are engaged while learning, they retain knowledge better than if they aren’t. You can create an engaging learning environment by diversifying the way you present information.
A blended approach can include the following assets:
- Live Zoom meeting
- Media – audio recording or videos
- Webinar – the teacher presents material, takes questions at the end
- eLearning – this gives a chance for the lesson to be interactive
- Peer coaching – students are paired up with a current contact center employee
- Side by side monitoring
The pandemic forced entire industries to jump headfirst into e-learning. This sink or swim moment increased demand for immediate change and a rework of what e-learning looks like. As a result, remote learning programs for call centers have been able to leverage more tools than ever.
Learning management systems (LMS) in the call center
An LMS is a powerful tool for creating a great learning experience. It helps you stay organized, track progress and adapt to learning environment demands.
You can upload your learning assets and make sure they are easily accessed no matter where your students are tuning in from.
E-learning reduces the face-to-face quality of interaction and creates a need for a new way to get a read on progress. With testing and real-time reporting you can track remote agents’ progress and how well they embrace lesson material. This helps you guide agents on a learning path beneficial to you both.
Start With Your PBX system
The degree to which your agents need to know how your PBX systems works are limited to their interaction with it. Sure, it may be interesting to know that the first PBX system was developed by lawyers in the 1960’s but this information is not necessary. Make sure you limit the superfluous adjectives and information.
Conducting the Agent Training
The knowledge and skills your learning programs must cover are infinite. Here are three we consider to be the most important.
Soft skills are interpersonal skills that you need to successfully navigate customer interactions. These skills include:
- Active listening
- Clear communication
- Positive language
80% of customers respond positively when their customer experience is personalized. Soft skills help your agents connect with your customers on a personal level.
Training courses need to have a segment dedicated to technical skills. Your agents have the best chance to achieve customer satisfaction if they can use the tools at their disposal with confidence. Call center software can help with time management, customer service, and countless other things.
Make sure getting to know your software is part of your training program.
Contact center best practices are difficult to convey. You can list what they are but without context,, it’s hard to imagine how to carry them out. Teaching best practices are best paired with practice and real-time guidance.
Call Center Agent Training Methods & Materials
Short and sweet
It’s no secret that average attention spans are decreasing.
Contact center training that stays within an accepted attention span window is more effective. Agents can stay engaged with their training programs because they are designed to hold their attention. Attention span caps for the different teaching methods are:
- Webinar – no longer than one hour
- Online training – between 5 and 30 minutes
- In-person classroom lesson – 50 to 90 minutes
Keep in mind that one minute of e-learning does not equal one minute of in-person classroom time. Your students can learn the same amount in 40-75% less time using online courses.
A case study provides a real-life example of what it is like to work in a call center. New hires get a chance to see problems in the call center and how trained agents face them.
As part of exploring case studies, you can invite star contact center employees to share their experiences and lead trainees through their real experiences. This gives great insight and adds a human feel to your lesson.
This is a great training method for new hires and veterans alike to put into practice skills they have learned. This is particularly helpful in practicing soft skills and conflict management.
You can guide agents through conversations with the aid of real-time scripting. Agents gain confidence and pick up best practices with this method.
Testing New Skills
Testing allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your lesson. It reinforces information learned and lets the teacher know what might still need work.
Testing should be:
- Tailored to subject, environment, and agent job function
- Aligned with customer service objectives
- Varied – role-playing can be a form of testing just as much as multiple choice.
Enhance call center soft skills training with LiveVox Workforce Engagement Management
In addition to delivering targeted, data-driven coaching to improve service quality, LiveVox’s WEM tools help to address agents’ longer-term development needs by focusing on call center soft skills training, flexibility, and empowerment.
Our integrated eLearning modules enable supervisors to link QA scorecards and coaching tasks with ongoing training assignments that can be delivered directly to the agent desktop and tracked by managers. Here are a few other ways LiveVox WEM helps call center teams cultivate soft skills.
Gather agent feedback on their scheduling preferences
Getting agents involved in the workforce planning process will ensure their satisfaction and buy-in and will increase adherence. Meet with agents to brainstorm alternative scheduling options, such as 4×10, 4×9 plus 4, or slant schedules (10 hours on Monday, nine on Tuesday, eight on Wednesday, seven on Thursday, and six on Friday).
Leverage shift bidding
Give flexibility and allow agents to view and select available shifts based on their skill sets, preferences, and lifestyle requirements.
Empower agents to self-manage
Hand over part of the scheduling process, such as swapping shifts, requesting time off, or volunteering for additional hours. Making it easy for agents to trade shifts or request time off can significantly reduce unplanned absenteeism.
Call Center Agent Training FAQs
Covered in this article: Live in-person or online meeting, audio recording or videos, Webinar, eLearning, Peer coaching, Side by side monitoring and Classroom/workshop
A great call center training experience starts with a plan. Your plan should include:
– A technical onboarding module where agents will learn how to use the tools and systems required to perform the job
– A product or service orientation so agents can provide knowledgeable assistance
– eLearning courses that agents can revisit over time
– An understanding of success metrics and how their performance will be evaluated.