3 Tips to Train Contact Center Reps

Customer service is a vital part of any company's bottom line. According to Frost & Sullivan, it will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020.

Although automation and chatbot interactions have become increasingly popular, voice is still the number one channel for customer interactions. Consumers crave a quality human interaction that effectively resolves their customer support issues, which is why your primary emphasis needs to be on communication skills and proper training for customer care agents.

Companies are always looking for a competitive edge. With a comprehensive training program that emphasizes interpersonal and communication skills, your customer-facing representatives will not only be prepared for inquiries, they will be able to successfully enhance your brand with customers in an initial interaction. Here are some best practices to implement into your training programs to create a customer support environment with an emphasis on advocating your brand:

Personalized Classroom Agent Training

There are various types of training that are effective for customer care employees, including web and in-person instruction. The value of these types of training programs vary across differing employee types, such as at-home workers, remote agents, and contact center employees. When appropriate, in-person, on-site instruction is extremely valuable, as a classroom environment provides engaging, effective, and realistic content for agents. When looking to implement this training methodology, it's more effective to target a trainer/trainee ratio of 1:20 (one trainer for every 20 trainees).

A key component of the agent onboarding process, on-site classroom environment training and a train-the-trainer approach with your customers can mitigate the initial ramp up of the customer support process and provide a seamless and non-disruptive transition and implementation of the customer service support model. As a result of this type of personalized classroom training, customer support teams can provide a consistent, sustainable, and quality level of service delivery to customers.

Training Simulation Scenarios

Creating a training program that includes simulated learning sessions that use actual supported products will successfully replicate actual customer support scenarios. This type of simulated training will assist agents in learning to identify, determine, and resolve actual customer support issues prior to being placed in the active customer support queue. This strategy will significantly enhance agent communication, technical, and soft skills in resolving customer issues in an expeditious timeframe, heightening the level of customer satisfaction.

The training scenarios should also be integrated into the testing and evaluation process, so that the trainees' scoring and performance can be aligned to the real-life support they will be providing once they have completed the required training curriculum. This entire process can be calibrated and adjusted in alignment with your customers' requirements in creating a seamless transition from new trainee to a quality customer engagement support agent.

Continuous Process Improvement

Continuous process improvement is directly attributed to ongoing training programs that enhance and improve agent knowledge and skills. This is especially essential as companies continue to expand globally, where new products and services with different customer bases are becoming the norm in today's customer engagement support environments. Continuous process improvement is THE driving factor to having a consistent and sustainable level of quality customer service delivery that yields a positive customer experience with your customer engagement support team.

Integrated learning and training programs that focus on establishing a foundation for continuous process improvement supports an environment with an emphasis on interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills will result in a successful customer engagement support model.

Customer service return on investment cannot be taken lightly, as $62 billion will be lost by U.S. companies this year because of poor customer service, according to a NewVoiceMedia study. With a comprehensive training program possessing the above-mentioned attributes for contact center employees, companies will enable a sustainable quality service, foster continuous process improvement, and enable a consistent level of success for all involved. Because customer care agents are always presented with the challenge of the human factor in the customer engagement support model, it is imperative that they are equipped with the proper training, tools, and processes to provide an interaction that yields a positive customer experience.

Michael Mills is senior vice president of global sales for the Contact Center Division at CGS.