July 10, 2019

Training Call Center Agents For The Unknown | Holiday Prep Series

Training Call Center Agents For Holidays

The busy holiday season seems far off, but now is the right time to start thinking about how your call center agents will handle crazy call volumes. A lot of call centers hire more employees and seasonal workers to make the holiday buying season tolerable. Even veteran employees can become flustered when heavy call volume forces them to take more orders than usual.

Follow these tips to make sure all of your employees have the proper training to do their jobs well when the incoming calls never seem to stop. You may even find you don’t have to hire as many people.

Make Sure Agent’s Are Quick and Know the System

In 2018, holiday sales exceeded $719 billion in the United States. As the season approaches, more people will use your call center to place orders and ask questions about products.

Employees can only keep up with customer demand when they know how to use your call center software quickly. You can prepare employees for high call volumes by planning training sessions that focus on certain topics.

Holiday Training Session Topic Ideas

  • Accepting incoming phone calls
  • Submitting order requests
  • Submitting order return requests
  • Locating product SKU numbers
  • Completing submission fields
  • Transferring calls to management

Make sure you give your employees plenty of time to practice these and other skills. Most people learn best through experience. Watching a presentation may not give them all of the training that they need.

Offer Additional Training During Slow Hours or Late at Night

Your call center probably experiences a dip in calls during summer. If nothing else, you have probably noticed that you don’t get many calls during certain hours of the day.

Use slow hours during the day and evening to offer additional training that will prepare call center agents for the hectic holiday season.

During the training sessions, you can have your most experienced workers answer calls. They already know how to use your system and can handle incoming orders. Besides, they won’t benefit much from the training unless you have added new features recently.

Keep Training Sessions Short

People have short attention spans that make it difficult for them to focus during long training sessions. For the best results, develop training sessions that last 15 minutes to half an hour. If you go beyond half an hour, your trainees won’t absorb the information well.

It may sound impossible to train someone in 15 minutes. You can make short training sessions more successful by focusing on specific topics during each class.

Don’t try to talk about more than one or two subjects per session. It’s better to spread out training sessions than cram a lot of knowledge into one or two classes.

Role-Play With Senior Agents to Improve Customer Rapport

Your senior agents should have years of experience talking to customers. Use their experiences to improve the skills of new hires.

Role-playing gives your team an excellent opportunity to test their system and communication skills. For example, a senior agent can pose as an upset customer and present complicated requests. Exposing the new employee to this type of situation will prepare him or her for the real thing.

Effective Role Playing Strategies

  • Have the senior agent place a call from within the center so trainees get a more authentic experience.
  • Ask the trainee to perform tasks that most customers don’t request.
  • Reinforce learning by having the trainee perform typical tasks, too.
  • Develop several scripts with different personalities so your trainee will get a wider range of experiences.

Role-playing isn’t exactly the same as talking to real customers, but it creates a realistic environment that tests the skills of new employees. Once you identify a person’s weak spots, you can focus on training seminars on improving those skills.

Use Call Recordings as a Training Tool

Call recordings give you a powerful training tool that shows employees how they can improve interactions with customers.

When you have a call recording, you can sit down with a trainee to listen to a conversation. Point out moments when the employee did very well and moments when the person could have taken a better approach.

Agent’s Learn Faster from Seeing Their Mistakes

For example, an employee who unintentionally sounds aggravated by a problematic caller may not know that they use an off-putting voice. When you play the recording, that person gets to hear the mistake. Then, they can work on remaining calm and avoiding tones that upset callers.

You can also use call recordings to show trainees examples of exemplary practices. If you have a recording of an employee who pacifies an angry customer and uses the opportunity to sell more products, then you should share that recording with others. Doing so teaches soft communication skills that would take years to learn without the right guidance.

Get Software that Helps Train Employees for the Holidays

The holiday shopping season will be here before you know it! Make sure that all of your employees have the right training to handle increased calls and unique situations. You can get started by adopting Call Tools software. We make it easy for you to record calls, reduce downtime, and monitor the metrics that matter most to your business.

Stay tuned for the next article in the “Holiday Prep Series,” which will be about utilizing SMS and email during the busy season.

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