Best call centre training tips and practices to apply for your team
Your call centre agents perform a vital role for your business, whether they are in sales or support–they are the interface between your sales and the most important people in the world: your customers. Call centre training is therefore essential to maximising the value added across the enterprise.
In our increasingly virtualized world, agents are probably the first and only human link in the sales or service chain, and therefore become the ‘face' (ok, voice!)' of your business. This wasn't always the case, because in the past service reps performed work which is now fully automated. Roles were poorly paid, high-turnover, and frequently repetitive–like reading a script when giving an insurance quote. The main skill needed was the tenacity and consistency to grind through a shift of reading questions and disclaimers out verbatim, and the work was often done by students, temporary workers, or even outsourced. But as the position has changed due to technological advances, contact centre training has become key to a high-performing and efficient customer service team.
What is call centre training?
This type of training prepares representatives to work as a representative. The topics covered by call centre training methods usually include communication skills, product or service information, techniques to manage a call, best practices for customer support, and the company's rules.
Today, a significant amount of customer service is done by bots and guided self-completion. Clients can get insurance quotes, complete purchases, file information, and solve a wide range of support problems without human involvement at any point. This evolution is thanks to self-service apps, knowledge bases, and intelligent algorithms. The role of support specialists and the skills they need has shifted, and now focuses more on exceptions that technology is ill-equipped to handle: edge cases, complex issues, the unique needs of particular users.
As a result, call centre training program has become a priority, ensuring service reps provide the professional expertise necessary to satisfy customers' needs. From the customers' point of view, they feel at ease knowing the agent has the knowledge necessary to satisfy their query. Meanwhile, agents are more engaged because the call centre training techniques allow them to focus on effectively resolving complex needs.
In this article we will look at the role, the different subjects agents must be familiar with, and how to go about developing a training program for your team. After all, there are many call centre training solutions (like Ringover!) to help you optimise your operations. Let's get started!
Call centre training best practices
Planning call centre job training means starting from the basics, and beginning with the end in mind. What objective do you want to achieve, and what skills do your agents need to do their work well?
Defining your objectives will enable you to develop a program to meet those needs, considering the following factors:
- The past experience and expertise ideal for your candidates
- Ongoing supervision and feedback
- Professional development and specialisation opportunities.
If you follow these best practices, you'll find that creating an optimised, high-performance customer service hub is a straightforward and efficient process.
How much does a call centre agent earn?
In the United States, you can earn between $31,000 to $49,000 annually, or about $12 to $24 per hour working as a customer service representative. The salary for this type of position often varies depending on experience and specialised knowledge.
Top three qualities of a call centre agent
A representative will need to have the following abilities to perform well:
- Active listening. Verifying the caller's queries by repeating them, asking the caller what he or she understands, and asking relevant questions help to improve overall quality of interactions.
- Be reactive. Dealing with an inquiry quickly will help diminish dissatisfaction.
- Be positive. The agent must be able to use positive language, with expressions or words that have the power to reassure the caller and (re)instil confidence in the company.
What skills does a call centre agent need?
Having the five following skills improves the chances of success.
- Coping with and mastering difficult situations
- Know the products and services on which the agent will be working
- Ability to quickly understand complex customer histories
- Good command of the business software in use at the company
Technical training for call centre agents
Technology has become so key to daily operations, ensuring agents can use the technical resources available to them is one of the most important subjects covered during their education. After all, if you've subscribed to a , you won't see the full potential of that investment if representatives can't use telephony features like menus and .
For example, they need to understand not only how to answer a call with no technical hitches which might detract from your corporate image, they should practise things like:
- Finding information from any databases needed to refer to, in order to solve callers' problems in real-time
- Being able to refer to context being served from the CRM (“This customer has called five times already, so they are high priority for resolution!”)
Ringover's training centre and is straightforward and intuitive to deploy on any device, and prepping for this aspect should proceed smoothly, ensuring that all users are familiar with the in use (such as with your CRM), and understanding their responsibilities and required actions to successfully handle an interaction from start to finish.
Delivering and assessing technical call centre training
These technical skills can be taught synchronously or asynchronously with pre-recorded video and screenshares, perhaps with quizzes to test understanding and ability to implement effectively in practice.
However, assessing and correcting any issues with technical courses is an ongoing process, and your will provide a wealth of insight into what can be optimised. For example, your analytics dashboard may indicate that agent A spends twice as long on post-call admin and updating as agent B, taking significantly fewer calls over a typical shift. This enables you to drill down into exactly where additional coaching may be needed, in a supportive and non-punitive way, to help bring them up to the expected levels of productivity.Technical classes will also be required in the event of any changes, to ensure the entire team is briefed and working effectively with the latest information and updates.
Training in call centre management
Not every agent will eventually become a manager, but they will all benefit from being informed on how the call centre is run and assessed.
By understanding the used to evaluate their work, representatives will work efficiently toward their overall goals. This kind of information sharing is typical and popular in sales, with competitive and collaborative real-time data frequently provided for motivational purposes, but can also be very valuable in support environments. For example, if your agents understand what NPS is, why it matters, and how to track how you are doing over time, individually and as a team, they will be more engaged in how they and their team are performing.
Once again the data will help you work out what is working–and where additional agent classes might improve desirable .
Product training for call centre agents
Whether they are selling your products and services to clients or providing post-purchase support, your agents are the ‘face' of the product as well as the business. As such they need to understand it inside and out, to be able to field questions, objections, and user issues, professionally and effectively.
Once again you will doubtless provide these courses to new hires initially, but it will also have to be regularly updated as your product portfolio develops. It's important for the agent on the phone to project confidence, and knowledge that goes beyond anything the customer could easily find on their own–any uncertainty will result in a negative impression. So, it might be valuable to involve higher level expertise, such as inviting a product manager to record an AMA or webinar that outlines the product selection and roadmap.
Managing product information needs in call centre training
If your product range is diverse, complex, and fast-moving, even your best salespeople will struggle to keep everything straight. So, service reps need guidance in where to look for the right information too–how to quickly navigate a detailed knowledge base and find the information that patrons need. Perhaps your top agents will give the impression they have encyclopaedic knowledge of every nuance of product in the range, but instead they will have had detailed guides on how to find the right answers fast.
Soft skills training for call centre agents
While ever-growing numbers of brand interactions are now taking place without agent intervention, the ones which require a human agent require the perfect combination of product knowledge and interpersonal skills.
Customer service and brand values
Few organisations would deny that customer service is a core value to them, or suggest that conveying the reputation of their brand effectively was unimportant to them. Every business probably has a flowery mission statement on a wall somewhere at HQ–but how does this manifest in the way people interact with clients?
Service reps need education in understanding how to deliver those values, how to embody them in every interaction–because there's no point having a beautiful slogan on a website about how important your clientele are to your business, if your staff doesn't execute the vision.
This is where a really great agent can differentiate themselves from the ones that are just fine by going the extra mile. But to do so will require guidance in what those values are, and what steps can be taken–what discretion they have, to make things right. It's easy for organisations to penny-pinch here and demand escalations and exceptions which cost brand reputation externally, and admin and time resources internally, for no good reason. How about instead trusting and empowering your agents, for example empowering them to offer no-fuss refunds at their discretion up to a certain level of product price, when they've identified that's what it will take to make the customer happy?
Training call centre agents in empathy
Being able to form an emotional bond with callers is essential, for creating a connection with them and helping them to truly believe that you have their interests at heart, and are working hard to solve their problems.This is particularly the case when someone has communication barriers–you may be dealing with a customer who is struggling in a second language, or who has difficulties using technology. If they are an older person they may be more used to interacting with your brand some other way, such as visiting a physical location and meeting with an advisor face to face, but now they are forced into using a phone or an app. So, developing emotional intelligence and empathy is vital.
Such skills have an innate component, but can also be practised and enhanced. and recording calls will help you surface valuable learning experiences, examples of good and bad practice, which can be very useful because they relate directly to emotional issues arising in your own product range–so mind your recordings proactively, for both individual remediation and group education purposes.
Handling unhappy customers
In an organisation, someone contacting customer support might be really angry or frustrated that a product has let them down in use, perhaps causing them disadvantage beyond expectation. Your team will need help in recognizing these people quickly–perhaps because of the way they angrily punch out of the IVR menu and demand human assistance, or because of their opening greeting and tone of voice. They will need classes in how to handle situations like this effectively, because strong emotions are often difficult to deal with. While no staff member should be expected to be on the receiving end of , they need to understand how to assess and deal with volatile situations professionally and within parameters of your business' policies. This skill is difficult to learn because it tests the individual responses of each agent. As such, one-to-one coaching and sensitive debriefing of monitored calls is often very effective here. This method helps the agent to feel supported, understand the emotion directed at the product or the company rather than them personally, and identify strategies for dealing with their own emotional response.
During the onboarding, speaking to unhappy clients can be simulated in role-playing scenarios. However, research demonstrates role-play can be a deeply uncomfortable learning style for some. Video could be an excellent tool for this topic, perhaps with guided group discussion afterwards about what participants learned from each interaction.
Training agents for the call centre of the future
As you can see from this article, the of agents robotically reading questions from a screen and typing in the answers, is history. Instead, your agents need continuous professional development, to enable them to become experts in both products and buyers, and how to synthesise a great result for both parties in every interaction.
In fact, as technology advances and the trend to extensive automation increases, it is likely deep niche expertise will develop. So it will become common to have specialised reps who have expertise in certain technology, product ranges, or complex process-oriented queries like travel cancellation.
As such, the onboarding process for new reps will become increasingly personalised, important, and meaningful, offering professional development and career paths for a new generation of customer service professionals.
Need to chat more about call centre training?
Call Centre Training FAQs
What training required for call centre?
To train call centre agents, you'll prepare them for the responsibilities of responding to customer queries. The skills covered will include healthy communication, knowledge regarding products and services, techniques to manage calls, tips on providing high quality customer service, and the company rules and procedures.
How long is the training for call centre?
To be adequately trained, you should expect anywhere from four to 10 weeks. Over that period of time, training will include classes, shadowing, and nesting. Nesting is a transitional phase during which trainees prepare to respond to queries on their own by handling client calls with a more experienced agent by their side. The courses will be completed when the rep can confidently handle queries and are capable of leveraging the resources available.
How do you become a call centre agent?
If your career goal is becoming a customer service representative, consider taking the following steps.
- Follow the steps outlined in this article to gain the knowledge necessary to respond to customer questions
- Prepare your resume, emphasising the most relevant skills and experience
- Check out job boards for positions that appeal to you
- Submit your resume to the opportunities you are interested in
- Attend the interviews you are invited to
- Once you've been hired, focus on improving your skills and taking advantage of learning opportunities
How many months is the training as a call centre agent?
When you join a call centre as a rep, you can expect between two to three months of onboarding before you're ready to independently respond to calls. During that period, you will go through several steps, which usually include a classroom environment, shadowing more experienced team members, and eventually nesting before taking calls independently.
What are call centre skills?
Besides learning the rules and procedures your company enforces, there are a couple of skills that are extremely useful for workers in a call centre. You'll need to have active listening skills and great verbal communication to provide a high quality experience. Other competencies useful to have include the ability to retain information, being detail-oriented, and the capacity to remain calm under pressure.
How can I pass BPO training?
To pass business process outsourcing (BPO) training, you'll need to follow these steps.
- Attend all the sessions, and arrive on time.
- Get adequate sleep so you can remain focused
- Take notes so you have references when needed
- Pay attention to experienced team members to learn from them
- Adhere to any dress codes
- Learn company rules and procedures