11 Top Tips For Training Your Customer Service Agents
McKay Borbon | Content Marketing Manager
Whether you’re onboarding new agents or working with your current team, training is crucial. When tickets and customers are handled with precision, operations are smoother and customers are happier. And satisfied consumers are more likely to shop with you again and spread the good word about your company. In fact, 96% of consumers say that customer service is a deciding factor when choosing a brand.
With increasing customer expectations in competitive markets, training your CS agents is one of the best investments you can make.
Top Tips For Training Customer Service Agents
1. Align your training with specific business outcomes
In Robert Brinkerhoff and Anne Apking’s book High Impact Learning, they explain that all training should be linked to important business needs and goals, such as improving customer satisfaction or reducing costs. “Training is, above all, an instrument for improving employee and organizational performance and effectiveness.”
For your CS training to have a high impact on your organization, you need to:
Identify business results you want to achieve: For example, you may want to reduce response times or boost first call resolutions.
Link the results to specific performance measures: Do you want your agents to handle tickets faster? Or perhaps with greater accuracy?
Target your learning opportunities and resources: Your training approach should be geared toward the performance measures you're aiming to improve. If it’s faster responses, focus on training agents in workflow and efficiency.
2. Define expectations
New hires and seasoned agents alike should know what's expected of them post-training. For instance, you might tell them that their average handle time should be under the industry standard of six minutes and 10 seconds. When employees know what targets to hit, they can take better ownership of their performance. They'll also be invested in achieving those goals because they’re clear on what they are.
3. Give them the right tools
Equip your team with the right tools to help solidify the longevity of your training. When agents have the information they need, they can be resourceful and independent. You might also consider platforms for coworkers to interact with each other, ask questions, and bounce ideas around. This helps the team be more collaborative and problem-solve together.
4. Include product, service, and policy knowledge
Just like we expect restaurant waiters to know about items on a menu, customers want agents who know your products and services. Within your training, include ways for agents to become familiar with what you offer consumers. Consider hands-on activities and product trials. You’ll also want to ensure your agents understand all important CS policies, such as the standards for returns, shipping, exchanges, and refunds.
5. Schedule ongoing training
Training your agents isn’t once and done. Recurring training every quarter or year allows you to share updates, teach new skills, or offer a refresh on delivering empathy. But avoid training just to train. Ensure each session is geared toward a specific performance and business result.
You should also consider timely training, such as before your peak season or when a new workflow comes out. That's because being proactive is better than reactive. Getting your agents on board and in tune with changes sets you up for success.
6. Balance technical and soft skills
Your agents need to have the technical expertise to do their job, but they also need to know how to interact with customers and make them feel cared for. Ensure your training includes both aspects, so that you maintain well-rounded performers.
7. Instill collaboration
When agents know each other and work well together, they can solve problems better and faster. It will also build team culture and morale. Include simulations or role-play between teammates, consider a mentorship program and job shadowing for new hires, or lead team-building activities that generate relationships and communication.
8. Teach resilience
Even agents with thick skin can get worn down, especially if they’re dealing with many challenging customers. Provide ways for agents to de-stress and step back during the workday, such as taking breaks for a walk, meditating, or asking a coworker to grab a coffee together. Preventing burnout not only lowers employee churn but also helps agents perform better and respond more kindly to customers.
9. Aim for consistency
When customers interact with your brand, they get to know you and what to expect. Training your agents to follow your brand voice and standard policies gives customers the most consistent experiences. No matter which agent a customer connects with, they’ll have a similar experience.
10. Share key data
Be transparent with your agents about the metrics you track and their role in those metrics. Explain how your analytics tie to business outcomes and better results for customers. When your agents feel like they’re a part of the mission, they’re more likely to help you achieve big goals.
11. Bring agents on board with AI systems
If you use AI in your CS operations, you'll want to ensure your agents feel comfortable and in the know. Explain the purpose of the AI and how it augments the agent’s job by removing repetitive tasks, alleviating pressure, providing them with more customer information, and allowing them to focus on high-level service interactions.
You'll also want to define a clear handoff process between AI and agents. While AI handles large quantities of tickets, it doesn’t handle all of them. It's crucial that your agents know how to handle the reassignment smoothly. If handled well, it's an easy process for customers and makes ticket resolution faster.