According to a recent study, 66 percent of consumers expect to speak with a friendly customer service representative. As it turns out, agent demeanor is even more important to consumers than fast resolution or shorter hold times. The best way to ensure your agents provide warm, helpful support over the phone—even when dealing with frustrated customers—is to provide clear guidance, and ongoing training and feedback.

Here are a few tips to help your agents help your customers over the phone.

1. Over-achieve when it comes to onboarding: Before your agents start, be sure to provide clear documentation around objectives and procedures, and put time into resources like call scripts and your internal knowledge base so that agents know what’s expected and how to find the information they need.

2. Choose easy-to-use tools: Your agents are learning about your product, services, and customers—that’s a tall order. You can shorten their learning curve by equipping agents with intuitive tools that streamline workflows, limit repetitive tasks, and make customer information readily accessible. A phone support solution that’s integrated with other support channels and tied to the central customer record can save your agents mountains of time.

3. Provide good examples: Allow new agents to shadow experienced team members or to listen to call recordings that exemplify a positive service interaction. It’s your job to set the bar.

4. Offer in-the-moment feedback: When agents start taking calls, you’ll need to find a way to identify areas for improvement and provide constructive feedback. Integrated call center software with a call monitoring feature allows you to listen in to calls, even when your agents are remote.

The Zendesk Talk “Live Calls Dashboard” allows you to easily monitor agent calls

5. Support agents through tough calls: Reassure new agents that you have their backs as they learn the ropes. Let them “raise their hands” when they need help, or monitor your call dashboard for longer calls—a signal that an agent is dealing with a tough issue. Here at Zendesk, the customer advocacy team uses a Slack channel to request guidance on a call. With the right software, you can join those tough calls and provide extra help using a “barge” feature. Speaking with a supervisor was never so easy.

With the right setup, your agents can focus on conversations, not workflows. Customers can feel when agents are comfortable and confident, and you’ll see the difference in customer satisfaction.

Learn more about Zendesk Talk and check out our new Call Monitoring feature