You have assembled a great team of call centre agents with a lot of potential, but what can you do to create an environment where they can learn, develop and progress? Having successfully trained and coached thousands of call centre staff during his career Kris Dalby, Training Manager at GFM ClearComms, shared with us his top 10 tips for creating an effective call centre learning environment.
1. Identify individual training needs
Even if your entire team is delivering exactly the same call centre services and they have the same levels of experience every single one of them will have different learning needs and requirements so make sure that you recognise this fact. Being able to pinpoint the specific training needs for each individual can ensure that you are on course to having well-rounded agents in the call centre that feel both valued and supported.
2. Create a buddy system
Create a buddy system, whereby high performing agents who portray values that you want future recruits to imitate can act as a benchmark for new team members by working alongside them. The new staff member can directly watch what they do and learn on the job, which helps support the more formal training.
3. Get line managers to deliver training
As well as creating a buddy system it is important to get line manages to deliver training in order to improve team relations and encourage knowledge sharing. Learning does not just come from speaking but also from listening and line managers can use these training sessions to better understand their team and what they can so to help them.
4. Provide free online tools
Another popular and effective method for encouraging learning beyond formal training is to provide free online tools and resources. These online training resources do not even need to be something that you create yourselves, popular video-sharing websites such as YouTube offer a wide variety of free video footage that demonstrate examples of high-quality customer service techniques and act as a great discussion starter for training sessions.
5. Let agents listen to their call recordings
Sometimes the best form of learning comes directly from reviewing your own performance, this doesn’t just apply to call centres but is applicable to most jobs including professional sports. By allowing your agents to listen to their own calls and running through this process it will also result in the agent actively reflecting on their performance and areas for development.
6. Deliver informal training
In order to truly create a learning environment coaching and training does not have to take place at a formal meeting. Coaching conversations can take place anywhere, anytime and for any length of time. In fact, from my experience sometimes the most effective coaching conversations which have the most impact can be the shortest.
7. Lunch and learn
A great example of informal training is lunchtime learning sessions, where staff can elect to deliver a session on their topic of choice. Even if the topic isn’t work-specific, you’re giving staff the opportunity to see a different side of their colleagues, and the person delivering the session is able to share their energy and enthusiasm for something they’re passionate about. Obviously people value their lunchtime so maybe incentivise people to attend by providing lunch.
8. Use periodic training
Training should not just take place when a new team member begins or reactively to deal with performance issues. Regular proactive sessions that let agents listen to their calls, discuss plans, and drive improvements should be an integral part of the overall call centre experience. This has various benefits including; helping agents see the need for constant upgrades to training and gives team leaders the forum to personalise training and identify future training needs.
9. Evaluate your trainers
You can have all the training resources in the world but unless you are able to deliver it in a way that is engaging, interactive and stimulating your team simply will not learn. Therefore, it is also crucial that your call centre trainers also receive feedback on their own performance. Training feedback can be solicited by way of a training feedback form, end-of-the-program quiz and impact of training surveys.
10. Recognise that training is an evolutionary process
Last but definitely not least, training is an ongoing process and your team’s learning and development needs must evolve just as your company and its clients do. Just because particular training methods have worked well in the past this does not mean they will in the future and as technology changes so will the needs of your team.