How To Simplify Training for Call Centre Staff

Author: Simon Black | Date: 06/05/2022

Fostering positive client relationships is crucial to business success, with many customers now basing their opinion of a company on their interactions with support agents rather than products and services. With only 19% of customers satisfied with the service they receive from call and contact centre agents, there is clearly significant room for improvement.1

That’s why many call centres are now looking to improve their training procedures through call centre quality assurance. However, it’s essential to recognise that when agents don’t receive the right training, it isn’t only customer satisfaction that suffers. Attempting to do a job without proper preparation is frustrating, and insufficiently trained agents can cause several call centre problems, including:

  • Lower first call resolution rates
  • Increases in customer frustration
  • Decreased productivity

First call resolution often displays the problems, such as those mentioned above, can result in one particularly undesirable outcome — high levels of staff turnover. Call centre turnover is estimated to be around 26%, considerably higher than the national average of 15%.2  Recruitment costs time and money, so call centre managers and team leaders should implement measures to reduce their turnover and keep it as low as possible. 

Effective training is crucial to ensure reduced turnover and overall call centre success. However, many call centres struggle to implement comprehensive training procedures that don’t require significant time and resources that put a strain on the business.

That’s why today, we’re going to look at some steps you can take to simplify call centre training and ensure agents are delivering the high-quality service customers demand.

Additional reading: Check out our recent blog post to find out how technology can support your agents — Harnessing the power of voice analytics to support agent wellbeing

The steps you can take to simplify training

Before we look at the practical steps you should consider to simplify your training procedures, it’s important to acknowledge that the first action you should take comes before the delivery of training. Recruitment is a vital part of workforce management, and finding top talent can reduce the training agents require. 

By attracting agents with a solid knowledge base or relevant skills and experience, call centres can ensure that the training they need to deliver is less complex and time-consuming. It’s also worth pointing out that a more robust recruitment process can make identifying applicants well suited to a call centre role easier. These agents are much more likely to stay long-term, reducing your staff turnover rates.

Solid onboarding processes are also important. Helping agents start in the role in a positive light, and easing them in gently, is far more effective in the long run than throwing new talent straight in at the deep end and seeing them out of their depth.

Call centre managers also need to be conscious of the fact that training requirements are changing as a result of shifting working models. Remote agents and hybrid working are becoming the norm, and training needs to adapt accordingly. This means deploying techniques like:

  • One-on-one video calls
  • Virtual classroom sessions
  • Creating eLearning content
  • Instituting remote training tools

Now that we’ve covered some of the key areas call centre managers need to consider before implementing their training procedures, let’s dive into the methods they can deploy to ensure that training processes are simple and effective.

1. Implement a shadowing program

Shadowing programs are a tried and tested method of training new call centre agents. Pairing new recruits with seasoned agents lets them experience how agents handle interactions first-hand, providing practical examples of how to deal with real-life situations.

Shadowing allows for the acquisition of skills without the need for secondary, practical instruction on how to apply those skills to actual conversations with customers. It’s an easy training strategy to implement — just pair agents together and let them get to work. While it may temporarily decrease the efficiency of the senior agent, that decrease is negligible when compared to the resources saved in training.

Call centres can now also leverage technology to enhance shadowing. Modern solutions that utilise automation make it possible to record and analyse 100% of the calls a call centre receives each day. In contrast, call centres not deploying this type of technology struggle to analyse 10%. 

What this means is that, with the help of cutting-edge software, call centres can create and save example recordings of their highest performing agents. These recordings can then be used to supplement the learning experience for new hires even once their initial training and shadowing is over.

Furthermore, instructing and teaching agents with less experience than them incentivises senior agents to improve their processes, and gives them an opportunity to reconsider whether their methods are still the most efficient available to them. 

2. Give clear and constructive feedback

At the core of any effective training program for call centre agents should be the provision of clear and constructive feedback. Training should be a back and forth process, with instruction given first, then feedback given on how that instruction is interpreted and implemented. 

Analysing agent performance and giving feedback will also help to improve future training sessions. If agents are consistently misinterpreting training material, it’s likely that the material itself needs to be clearer. Increasing the clarity of training material is an excellent way of simplifying the training process, helping to ensure that the training isn’t overly open to interpretation.

Providing feedback in the early stages of agent supervision can also help negate the need for additional training further down the line. Feedback should be directly actionable and tailored to individual candidates, allowing recipient agents to improve their performance with little interpretation.

3. Measure agent performance

Measuring agent performance makes it easier to identify where additional training is required. In a call centre environment, some of the key areas of agent performance managers and team leaders should keep under review include: 

  • Average handle time 
  • Customer satisfaction and quality
  • First Call Resolution (FCR) rates 

Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, specifically speech and voice analytics, monitoring and measuring agent performance is now a much more straightforward process.

  • Voice analytics processes the tone, pitch, pace, and volume of calls. Information that can be used to discover what the agent is doing right or wrong during customer interactions. 
  • Speech analytics picks up on specific keywords, transcribing what has been said to facilitate the analysis of the words agents use, helping to ensure they are using approved language, providing correct information and supporting compliance processes.

By measuring performance with technology, managers can easily pinpoint the specific areas where agents need to improve, and then tailor follow-up sessions appropriately. If multiple agents need help in the same area, group sessions can be scheduled to save time, and future training amended to prevent similar knowledge gaps moving forward.

4. Ask for input from your agents 

Training should always be a two-way process, and an excellent way of ensuring this is always the case is by asking agents for their input. Managers should get team members input on what they need further instruction on and how they believe training should be delivered.

Asking for agent input helps simplify the training process by further optimising the personalised aspect of the training agents receive. When staff engagement is high, and agents feel like they are being listened to, they are more likely to actively learn from the training material.

Engaging agents in the training process also makes them feel more valued, and allows for further assistance with the development of future training material. This in turn improves the development of content for training on skills, knowledge and abilities.

5. Introduce effective call scripting

Call centre scripting is one of the most practical methods call centres can use to simplify training. Agents are provided with a script to follow during customer interactions that improves the customer experience and consistency across the call centre. By including the information agents need during calls, scripts decrease the need for extensive training regimes and help agents become proficient in their roles much quicker.

Technology is now helping to take scripting to the next level. Cutting-edge platforms mean scripts can be constructed using a library of system controls that act as building blocks that can be customised to look and behave as required. Platforms can also provide a single interface point, and the right script can be presented to agents at the right time to ensure correct processes are always followed.

Software now also has the capacity to guide agents based on what customers are asking for, a feature known as Next Best Action (NBA). This process utilises artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and pre-configured business rules to suggest to agents in real-time the next steps they should take when dealing with a specific customer, and looks set to become a significant call centre trend.

With the help of the technology that allows cutting-edge call scripting and is now driving NBA, call centres can provide agents with increased support in their day-to-day roles. As a result, training procedures can be scaled back and simplified, with technology helping agents access the guidance they need during every customer call.

Reduce lengthy and complex training processes with Awaken

In an increasingly competitive environment, businesses are always looking to find a competitive edge. Delivering exceptional customer service outcomes that go above and beyond consumer expectations is one way to do this. However, it requires motivated, well-trained agents who consistently resolve queries quickly on first contact.

Ensuring agents are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to take customer service to the next level is pivotal. But that doesn’t just happen — agents need to be given proper training before you can expect to see results. However, call centre training can often become complex, convoluted and expensive, which is why processes need to be simplified.

At Awaken, we believe that innovative and flexible software is the solution. Underpinned by decades of contact centre knowledge and experience, our platform gives you the ability to:

  • Deploy voice and speech analytics that ensure you capture every interaction your agents have with customers, helping you pinpoint the areas where your finite training resources can have the most impact.
  • Utilise dynamic call scripting and agent guidance. Our software helps drive and guide customer conversations, allowing agents to become experts on every customer they deal with and can reduce training time by as much as 70%.

Our technology also integrates with your existing technology, providing a seamless experience that gives you access to insights from across your entire operation. With the help of our technology, you can really listen to your customers, better understand their needs and guide your agents to successful outcomes.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you simplify your call centre training procedures, get in touch with our team today.

1 What Customers Want from Support Contact Centers

2 Breaking the mould on staff turnover