Six steps to recruiting and retaining the best call center agents
How do you recruit and retain the best call center agents?
The customer service center or call center is the very first impression that customers will have of your organization. In a sense, your call center is your front line of public relations! It makes sense to invest heavily in the call center to ensure that your agents are well chosen and well trained to perform their duties. After all, it costs significantly more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one, and promoting customer loyalty is precisely the job of your call center agents.
But how does a company know if the contact center training is good or just good enough? What are the best industry resources that offer agent training that is worth the time and expense?
Call center agent training resources
Here are some of the best training resources that are available to call center organizations:
- The Resource Center for Customer Service Professionals (RCCSP) is a great online resource offering a wide selection of training courses for the customer service industry. Their website offers a list of dates and locations for specific areas of call center training.
- Impact Learning Systems Impact has over 15 years of experience in training call centers.
- MHI Global MHI Global offers training and workshops in Sales Performance, Customer Experience and Leadership Management.
Are there any you would add to the list?
Best practices for recruiting and retention of call center agents
Organizations are constantly working to reduce workforce churn by maintaining agent happiness–which is the key factor in promoting customer loyalty, as it turns out. Six tips for your hiring and training program:
- Hire good people If you’re not willing to expend the time, energy and budget to hire great people, the rest of this list won’t be of much use to you. Call Center analyst Donna Fluss gives some great tips on homework you can do before the interview to ensure you’re recruiting the best staff. Hint: asses the qualities of your top agents and create an ideal candidate profile. Take the time to ask the right questions in the interview process to ensure you’re hiring a great candidate.
- Educate your agents about your business Agents should have a comprehensive understanding of the business they are representing. They should know policies, core values, the mission statement and how they, as an agent, can contribute to this. Zappos team members famously live and breathe the company’s mission statement, which has nothing to do with shoe sales: provide the best customer service possible.
- Teach the basics Teach agents the best way to greet, handle transfers and end a conversation along with what to say and what NOT to say when dealing with customers. Teach techniques for diffusing a customer’s anger and how to handle a call that escalates in anger or frustration.
- Incorporate all learning styles into your training Everyone learns differently. Some people are strong auditory learners, while others are more visual or hands-on. A good call center training program will teach to all learning styles offering agents the opportunity to learn in the way that is best suited to them.
- Train great researchers This means training agents on how to find the right answers quickly. This includes the particular software, databases, search mechanisms, chat tools and feedback tools they will be using and making sure they are very comfortable with all of them. And make sure every agent knows where to go when she gets stuck.
- Provide ongoing training and evaluation Every good training program should conduct benchmark evaluations so that agents get feedback on how they are doing and can engage in a process of continual improvement. It’s important for team morale that training be a continuous process of improvement and accomplishment.