It’s common for some business leaders to view their contact center teams as an afterthought. This isn’t helped by contact centers’ notoriously high turnover rates. Call center jobs are, too often, chalked up as entry-level roles. And sometimes, customer service teams are written off because the staggering turnover rates make execs think it’s a lost cause to invest in agents.
And it’s easy to think that once a consumer becomes a customer and pays for your product or service, the hard work is done, right?
Wrong … oh, so wrong.
The world is changing, and customers run the show. Organizations must wake up to the truth of the matter — remarkable customer service is a competitive advantage. Now, 89% of businesses compete on the customer experience they deliver — not just through the initial sale.
Your customer service experience also plays a key role in customer retention strategies, too. Think about it. With one bad interaction, consumers are likely to share their negative experience with 16 other people. A few bad experiences delivered to your customers in a day, and you’re losing potential customers left and right.
Starting with the Source of Quality CX — Your Contact Center Agents
If a customer has a pressing question about your product or service and reaches out to your team, what do you think would make them happy and willing to stick around? An automated or generic email response, or a well-researched answer sent from a contact center agent dedicated to their success? Probably the latter.
And, what’s the effect of these well-researched answers? The Temkin Group reports that 87% of customers who say they had a great experience will make another purchase from the company, compared to 18% of customers who had a very poor experience.
Now whose team isn’t revenue-generating?
But how do you build this stellar customer service team? How do you combat those negative experiences from occurring? How do you encourage agents to send those well-researched answers instead of generic emails?
With effective and frequent customer service training and coaching. Invest in your agents to get the quality of service and performance you want. That’s easy to say, but you’re pretty busy, right? So, how do you fit frequent customer service training into your every day?
Let’s look at some tactics to adopt to make your customer service training frequent and consistent.
1. Set a Schedule and Get Creative with it
If you want to make training a priority in your contact center, commit to a consistent cadence for training. Make sure it’s clear to your agents that there’s a schedule for different kinds of training. For example, every quarter, have a set date for a customer service team “summit.” Summits are like retreats. Essentially, it’s a day, or a few hours in a day, to focus on training in depth, practice team building, and discuss the big picture.
Summits give your team time to set aside the day-to-day workflow and focus on fostering relationships with one another. They can be information dumps and give you time to discuss the philosophy you have for your team goals. Or, they give you time for in-depth product and service training and presentations.
In a team summit, try role-playing customer situations, or dig into personality tests like the DiSC profile or Strengthsfinder to learn how to work better together. Have an agenda for what you want to accomplish with each Summit, and appoint a facilitator so it doesn’t get hijacked.
Aside from quarterly summits, make a schedule for more frequent coaching. Have a scheduled 1:1 time with each agent or supervisor on your team. If you have a smaller staff, maybe these can be weekly. For larger contact centers, you may have to make 1:1s monthly. These are great opportunities for performance evaluations and goal setting. Use 1:1s to create a career path with your agents or supervisors. Give them constructive feedback on how they’re performing day-to-day and as a teammate.
Agent Scorecards and employee engagement surveys are great tools to lead discussions with your agents on a regular basis. If they have a lower performing month in their scorecard, use their 1:1 time to identify the source of their low performance. Perhaps there are learning gaps you can focus on with targeted in-line training. Or, maybe there’s stress from a relationship with another coworker and they need help mediating the situation.
Set a schedule with each agent from day one and stick to it. Consistency gives your agents confidence that you’re investing in them. It helps them to know you’ll have regular check-ins so they can get the support they need, when they need it. Scheduled training sessions and 1:1s boost your employee engagement and motivate your employees to work harder.
2. Coaching on the Fly
Outside of the chunks of scheduled time, it’s good to stay on top of your customer service training game in windows of time throughout your day. Believe it or not, in the spare 30 minutes between your morning manager meeting and your lunch break, you can fit a whole lot of productivity.
With the help of some contact center platforms, you can review call transcripts or read customer interactions from your desk. Leave notes for your agents as you listen to a handful of calls or read a few emails. Reviewing individual interactions between your agents and customers gives you the context you need to coach and provide relevant feedback.
Maybe you have a customer service rep — Courtney — whose KPIs took a hit. Her Average Handle Time went through the roof and she got a nasty customer review. But in the review of Courtney’s interaction, you note that a customer was bullying her through a whole call and made it tough for her to resolve her issue quickly. You can give feedback to encourage Courtney’s effort and take a mental note to address de-escalating issues in your next 1:1.
In-line feedback is incredibly constructive and allows your agents to see the specific phrases they could have edited or what questions they should have asked to get more clarity. Remember, in-line feedback is also a great way to praise good work and give agents a confidence boost. Reinforcing good performance and behavior is just as valuable as correcting a problem.
3. Use Bots and Threshold Triggers to Cut Back on Task Overload
The truth is, you don’t have time to comb through the excess of data and provide your agents feedback for every interaction. Instead of skipping your lunch break at Chipotle (a true nightmare) to deal with the busywork, use bots and threshold triggers to identify and prioritize critical training areas for your customer service team.
Bots help you automate your workflow, send you notifications and reminders, and set automatic tags to help you stay organized. They’ll monitor interactions and let you know when call queues get long, or when your service level dips below average. Customize your bots to trigger coachable moments or alert you when there are inconsistencies in your agents’ responses.
Or, set threshold triggers on important metrics, so you get an alert when one of the metrics starts to trend down. Then, you can jump in as needed to evaluate whether a situation will escalate, or to provide the feedback your agent needs to stay afloat and save the customer’s experience.
Take advantage of technology in your customer service training to tackle the small tasks for you.
Upping the frequency of your customer service training doesn’t have to feel daunting. Build your dream team with the help of consistency and intentionality.