Why training and development matters in call centres | Mark Chana
What matters most for world-leading call centres? While strategic management, innovative technology, flexibility of attitude and knowledge of business partners are vital, for me the most important aspect of a call centre is the quality of its agents.
This is why training and development matters so much when creating and managing a call centre with world-class standards. At CCI South Africa we have extremely high standards for new recruits, and we don’t apologise for those standards. But in return, we offer a career-strengthening ongoing training and development program for agents.
Why does training and develop matter so much for call centre agents?
Each interaction between agents and customers is important. So, every time a CCI South Africa agent makes a call, answers the phone or responds to a digital customer query, they’re not just representing our brand but more importantly that of our partners too. Every call, whether internal or external, builds brand confidence and loyalty with the customer. However, it’s not enough to focus only on recruiting the best people. This is obviously important, but more so is the ongoing training and development for the agent.
In 2020, customers have increasingly high expectations from call centre agents. They expect assistance, information and 24/7 service. And they also expect their query or problem to be dealt with quickly — ideally within one call. We live in an era of constantly evolving technology that is available to customers first. Call centres trying to rely on legacy software and operations are left behind.
Call centres must quickly adapt and change their service to meet this customer expectation. And this should be reflected in the training available for both agents and managers. Today’s call centre agent is multi-skilled and multi-faceted. They must demonstrate a number of skills at any given moment. From problem resolution to empathy, sympathy and understanding, agents have a complex job. To maintain high motivation levels among agents, which leads to high levels of customer satisfaction, all training and development must be carefully strategised for the long-term.
Adapt training to address digital changes
CCI South Africa has a dedicated Learning & Development team focusing solely on designing and delivering training for our agents. There are five separate training programs that go from Agent up to Leader, so all of our agents have the opportunity to progress their career in a structured way. This is what makes CCI South Africa a world-class contact centre.
As digital technology develops and evolves, call centres must keep pace with their training and development. We deal with this through our Digital Academy concentrates on reviewing and updating customer engagement strategies. By partnering with specific digital engagement experts we can keep up with the changing dynamic of customer engagement.
Six tips for call centre agent training and development
At the simplest level, call centre agents must be trained to answer customer queries, both digitally and by phone. Customers want agents with the knowledge, information and skills they need to resolve the query in one call. Statistics show that customer satisfaction levels fall if they feel this isn’t happening, which is why qualitative training specifically focused on meeting customer expectations is important for world-class agents.
Throughout a customer service agent’s career, there will always be another level of training and development to aspire to. And it’s up to the organisation to provide this. Below are six suggestions for training and sharing best practice that can be implemented immediately by call centres.
1. Make sure agents are fully informed and empowered
Agents need all the information at their fingertips so they can resolve customer queries quickly and accurately. Customers respond positively to obviously well-trained agents that can make the decisions for the partner company. Agents must fully understand the service required for them and the brand they’re representing.
2. Training must be engaging and interesting
Keeping agents motivated and interested during training is very important. Old-fashioned training might be easier to administer, but interactive, interesting training will get better results. If agents aren’t engaged, they won’t deliver the necessary customer service.
3. Induction training should include real life call listening
Our partner company CareerBox ensures our new recruits are onboarded and ready to go, but for call centres starting from scratch it’s important to include live call listening and handling in the training. There’s no substitute from the learning experience of listening to real calls.
4. Give clear and actionable feedback to agents
Agents need clarity when receiving feedback, so it should always be clear and accessible.
5. Share the overall strategy with agents
Align Performance Management with the call centre’s wider employee engagement and customer satisfaction strategy.
6. Consistently improve agents’ knowledge
The collective knowledge of call centre employees is what gives the organisation a long-term competitive advantage. Agents need the opportunity and framework to learn new things, improve knowledge about customer service and partners as well as any changes to the system.