Everyone talks about the latest and greatest technology as the “future” of the contact center, but I beg to differ. I would say that the future lies in your contact center agents. These agents are the biggest human resource investment you can make in your business. I cannot emphasize enough the need to have agents with the right personality and skills to add value to your business. Productive agents are an asset in that they help to keep your contact center running smoothly, generate customer loyalty, and ultimately boost the bottom-line. They are also the front-line of your customer experience efforts, so it’s important to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.
I’m often called to consult on contact center operations. Agent training and know-how is an area that often comes up for discussion. Here are some aspects that I think are core to training your staff correctly and ensuring that they are functioning at their best:
Corporate Induction Program
A corporate induction program is a must to correctly integrate a new employee into your corporate culture and set the desired level of expectations. The most important aspects to focus on in this phase of employee initiation includes an introduction to the company, the brand, key departments, meeting the team, and the basic trainings. This ensures that the employee begins work with the basic knowledge required to hit the ground running.
Skills and Competencies
For the sake of simplicity, agent skills can be split into two main categories:
- The technical skills that are required to execute the technical aspects of the job.
- The interpersonal skills (soft skills), which include how well the agent communicates with the customer.
Technical skills include being able to use the systems that are in place, such as the telephone, CRM, and the email software.
Interpersonal skills involve skills such as effective communication, empathy, problem-solving, and the ability to maintain composure under pressure.
Other areas to consider are work-based competencies such as organization, teamwork, attention to detail, result-orientation, awareness of policies and procedures, and product knowledge.
Also, consider statistics on the increasing emphasis on sales skills. You can find information about it in this industry research report from Contact Center World.
Ask yourself these important questions:
- How brand-aware are your employees?
- Do they understand the values and promises that your brand embodies?
- Most importantly, do they exhibit the brand essence as part of their role in the customer experience?
- Do you understand that your agents are, in effect, your biggest and best brand ambassadors?
Coach employees on brand awareness. Include and engage employees regularly in activities that foster brand alignment. Invest in ensuring that your employees are able to articulate and embody what your brand stands for.
A much ignored aspect of agent training is operational intelligence. Agents often don’t understand how their contribution affects the operation as a whole. I would argue that it is necessary that agents understand how they fit into the big scheme of things. It has the effect of increasing motivation and improving performance. Here are some resources from our blog which cover the basic aspects of contact center operations:
- Contact Center Operations Management
- Workforce Management
- Training in the Contact Center
- Quality Assurance
On-going Engagement, Feedback, and Development
Agent training is an on-going process. The employee engagement loop is a procedural cycle that all employers would do well to emulate. Training doesn’t simply stop at merely imparting education. That model in itself has become obsolete. Creating valuable employees that are loyal and an asset to the business requires consistent engagement, training, motivation, rewards, feedback, as well as ongoing development opportunities.
CHCG is the world’s premier consulting company for the BPO/Contact Center and Customer Experience Industries. We believe in delivering customized solutions with our client’s ROI as our main driver for excellence. Contact us today for an in-depth assessment of your current organization, and to see what CHCG can do for you.