Having a successful, efficient support center takes a lot of work. First, you need to find the right staff. Then, you interview the applicants that seem like the best fit for the role and eventually
have all the positions filled with the best agents. You’re super excited and ready to take on any task ahead of you. All the people that are part of your team are smart, educated and experienced in that role.
Why would you waste time in training, right? Wrong.
A successful team does not just happen. Having the best possible individuals for the role means nothing if they’re not prepared for the job. Introducing staff to the company, its products and services, its policies and, most importantly, its customers, is crucial.
After that, going through training, best practices, and troubleshooting will prepare them for their role. A properly trained agent will do more than just talking to your customers, they will solve the problems on their own, contribute to the knowledge base and feel more engaged with the company.
An empathetic trainer is a good trainer
Before you even begin with the training, you must prepare yourself first.
Patience is a virtue. Training is called like that for a reason. Mistakes are supposed to happen, it’s best if they happen during the training.
You might get frustrated and disappointed, but it is up to you to show understanding, empathy, and patience. Sure, things will go wrong, but every mistake is a chance to improve.
Now that you’re aware of the importance of patience it is time to remind you of another equally important factor - trust.
You don’t want your agents to work with fear while you’re standing above their heads. Forget about micromanagement. Trust is a two-way street, you want to trust your employees and you want them to have trust in you as well.
How do you think someone’s going to ask you a question or suggest innovations when they don’t know how are you going to receive them?
Finally, be transparent and flexible. You may have years of experience in customer service before you’ve started managing the team, but there’s a high chance others are on their first day. Share your knowledge, give thorough explanations, and try to answer questions before they’re asked.
After all, you’re both on the same side and have the same goal.
Diversify your training program
You are now aware of the qualities you need to show as a trainer and can begin to research what is the best way to build your training program. People are different and there is more than one way to share knowledge.
The best practice would be including all four types of teaching:
Some people are visual learners. Infographics, images, screenshots, and graphics are all amazing ways to share a lot of information on just a few samples.
We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Auditory learners best acquire information by hearing it. If you’ve already prepared visual lessons, why don’t you include audio that follows it? Your talks and group discussion are extremely beneficial to auditory learners.
The third group of learners are those who memorize the best by reading. Include written material that goes along with your lessons. It doesn’t have to be a book, a simple handout or a flip chart will enhance their training.
Kinesthetic learners will remember what they’ve done themselves. Sure, all the materials and lessons you’ve prepared will benefit them, but they need to do something to understand how it’s done. Include simulations and practice in the training.
A great way to start the training is with a workshop where everyone will have the chance to test and feel the support system. Include occasional tests to follow the progress and make changes in the program if needed. Provide plenty of live demonstrations where future agents can test a call, email or chat session.
You will know when they’re ready to start working with real customers and handle the tickets. All these elements are essential if you want to have a balanced program that will allow everyone to learn quickly and get in the game.
Bear in mind that training is not the same for a small localized group who can discuss and support each other and for a bigger team dispersed on different locations. Adapt and change the training according to the situation and make sure all the information is up to date.
At-ease agents are better learners
You have prepared yourself, the program is ready, now it’s time to consider the atmosphere you want to create. We don’t suggest anything that resembles a military drill.
A new team needs time, and you should encourage trust and openness with each other and with you as their manager. Convince the staff that making a mistake is not something they will be punished for, but rather something that provides a chance for everyone, including you, to learn and gain more experience.
Consider team building events. Let your team members meet each other and meet you. Trainees should be encouraged to talk to each other and hang out. Weekly meeting, team lunches or office games do wonders in creating a positive atmosphere.
You’ll soon realize that this approach makes a huge difference in their view of the workplace and the company.
It’s not a prison sentence, it’s a fun place full of great people where we work together towards a specified goal. When you have a group of agents who enjoy each others’ company and above all that a manager that cares for them and they can trust you will soon notice an improvement in results.
Ask your team what they thought
Ask for the feedback. Ask them what they think about the training process, about you as a trainer and about the company as a whole. If you want more honesty, an anonymous survey will allow them to express what they otherwise wouldn’t.
There’s always room for improvement.
Well-trained agents mean happy customers
A protocol cannot replace training. Teaching your employees best practices should become an irreplaceable practice in every company. You cannot trick your customers. People can feel if they’re communicating with a person who is understanding, empathetic and skilled, and they can also notice an agent who only goes by the script and follows the protocol.