Our president, Hoyt Mann, wrote a blog post awhile back that pointed out three characteristics of customer service that influence customers the most. Being prepared happens to be one of those and companies that have problems with customer service turnover and repeated call backs, long hold times, and other problems may want to look at what type of preparation their agents are receiving when they are hired, as continuing education while they are there, and what tools are available to keep the agents in the know.
For some reason, and it happens in every type of department, training is put on the back burner….as in, “We don’t have time to train you. You will just have to pick it up as you go along.”
That puts the agent on poor footing right there. They must endure stumbling through the next several days or weeks in front of customers and other agents.Depending on the company culture, this could let them in for some nasty cracks from more knowledgable or experienced agents.
Lack of training does little for morale and less for employee retention. Not to mention how customers feel when they contact the company for service. Not good for customer retention either.
All new agents need to have training to learn the tools you use, the way you treat customers, and especially to learn as much as possible about your products and services. Customers want knowledgable agents and agents want the confidence of knowing what to tell customers. Working with customers all day is stressful. Anything to destress an agent’s day is a good thing.
Training doesn’t stop after the initial hire. At regular intervals all agents need to go through some form of continuing training to shore up weak areas, help them advance, and keep them at the top of their game. If you record calls for quality assurance purposes, bring some of those recordings or transcripts to use as examples of how to handle various customers or how to tell when calls are going wrong.
Don’t forget what I call “learning opportunities”. This does not mean yell at someone. If something negative occurs with an agent, don’t hesitate to stop and talk through the problem with him. In turn, if an agent has something really great happen, make sure you notice and debrief him to find lessons to pass along or to start including in training.
The Boy Scouts know that always being prepared can help with survival. Prepare your agents and they won’t just survive, they will thrive and your customers will notice.
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