With the increasing importance of customer service, a growing number of team leaders are asking themselves how to train their customer service agents for a successful CX.
According to researchers at Cornell University, the average training program for new agents is 15 days long. This is a good benchmark to shoot for. However, if your program is significantly shorter, you might want to assess if your new agents are capable of going into the field on their own. Putting some thought into how to train customer service agents for successful CX is rewarding in other ways as well. Companies with good training programs saw a 65% increase in employee engagement, as well as 218% more income per employee and 24% higher profit margins.
So without further ado, here are 10 tips to help you provide a smooth experience for your customers.
1. Set clear objectives
Let your agents know exactly what they need to do to succeed at their jobs. Setting straightforward and measurable goals can be as simple as schedule adherence and achievable KPIs.
By explaining the metrics you’ll be using to grade their performance, staff will know what they have to do and probably have an idea of how they are doing along the way. Whether it’s conversion rate, first-call resolution, call abandonment, or customer satisfaction, having clearly defined criteria will give agents a feeling of security and help them perform well.
2. Train agents to use your knowledge base
Agents need training in how to become expert users of the complex CRM and other software used within your company. Having a technical support department at agents’ availability might be the difference between a good CX and a great one.
If a tech support is not available, another great option is to have experienced agents and team leaders thoroughly train new hires to use your customer software.
3. Teach the right way to handle a call
According to recent research, 66% of callers want to speak to a friendly customer service agent. It’s more important than short hold times or fast call resolution. In addition to knowing all about your products and services, it’s crucial agents have “soft skills” to empathize and rapport building. Teach your agents the right way to greet customers and end calls, as well as the right language to use. Have them use positive language words such as definitely, certainly, and absolutely, while minimizing negative language, such as the word no. Instead of “I don’t know,” agents can say “let me find out”.
Using the right language shows customers that you care about them. It can even help defuse tense situations.
When you’re designing your program on how to train customer service agents for successful CX, include some emotional coping strategies for your staff members, and how not to take customer frustration personally. For instance, agents can have a place to unwind when faced with angry customers, or instead turn to answering emails for a while to cool down after a difficult call.
4. Involve top-performing agents in the training
Let your rock star agents model good performance for the new hires during training and afterward. They can share tips and tricks, and give them practical, grounded advice on how to succeed. New agents can also shadow their seasoned counterparts as part of the training process.
5. Use call recordings to illustrate specific points
You should have call recordings of all your typical customer issues so that new hires can get a feel for the work based on real-world information. It would also be helpful to have them listen to good calls and disastrous calls; easy and difficult calls. Analyzing real calls will help prepare them to work on their own.
6. Personalize your training methods
Your trainees all have their unique strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to how to train customer service agents for successful customer service, it’s best to have a variety of methods in your arsenal.
Roleplaying, gamification, standard classes, handling real calls under close supervision – these are just a few of the methods you can use to appeal to different learning styles.
Develop a quality framework so you can track your agents’ progress and assess where they need help. That way everyone is trained to the same standard and no one falls through the cracks.
7. Have a library of learning materials handy
Not all training needs to be done with a trainer. New employees (and experienced staff), should have resources they can use to answer questions and learn on their own. These resources can include such things as:
- Procedures and troubleshooting for your software
- Product details and features
Videos are also a great tool. Even if making your own training videos isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of free videos available. Find some good ones on YouTube and link or embed them in your training material.
8. Use customer contributions
It’s fantastic if you can convince real customers to show up to your training sessions – that will get your agent’s attention! Even if you can’t, soliciting customer feedback is a great way to refine your training methods and let your agents know the real value of their work.
9. Provide ongoing coaching/training sessions
Training never ends. The customer service landscape changes, you come out with new products − sometimes even good agents need a little coaching. Letting agents listen to recordings of their own calls can be a great performance booster since they can see things more objectively and analyze for themselves how such calls can be improved in the future.
10. Have regular meetings
Customer service is a tough job, and regular staff meetings can help instill a sense of camaraderie. You can share horror stories, victories, and solutions. Staff members can offer each other emotional support as well as come up with new problem-solving methods, ask questions, and voice concerns.
Training your customer service agents to succeed is training your business to succeed. Proper training is good for your customers and good for your staff too – and that means your investment is worth it.