Studies show that most customers call businesses because they need or want something immediately.
And, self-service options don’t meet that need. As a result, many businesses have implemented in-house call centers to deal with large volumes of inbound customer service inquiries.
For businesses that are providing 24/7 customer support, their call center agents deal with every type of customer support issue imaginable. Customers need return calls, want to make appointments, or they’re angry and need to let off some steam.
Because customer service agents wear many hats, thorough training is required to prepare them for every type of interaction. When these agents are properly trained, the businesses they represent benefit from having happy customers who will return to spend more money.
While experience will help call center agents perform at their peak, call center certifications and training give them “out of the box” strategies to deal with customers. The more customer service agents know, the more skills they’ll have to help grow your business with happy, loyal customers.
The good news is that many reputable third parties offer certifications and free training options. Whether you just have regular employees answering calls for your business or if your business has a call center of its own, the following information is meant to empower you.
Teach Your Agents About Your Business
The more your call center agents know about your business, the easier it will be for them to help your customers. These agents should possess a working knowledge of all the products and/or services that you offer and if they don’t then they should have access to it.
Educated customer service agents interact with your customers in a way that is in line with your business’s particular values while providing more thorough assistance.
Customer Service Agents Need Power
There is one thing training cannot do. Agents are powerless without the ability to make decisions. For example, a 24-hour service for an attorney that cannot offer time for a callback does not help anyone.
Or, an HVAC call agent who cannot set a service time prompts another call. The customer may decide to make the next call to a competitor.
Your customer service representatives need certain capabilities and responsibilities that are clear before they start interacting with customers. The more power the call center agents have to make informed decisions, the more effective they will be at caring for customers.
Help Maintain A Low-Stress Environment
The less stressed the call center agents are, the easier it will be for them to maintain a calm demeanor when dealing with particularly difficult customers. It’s important for businesses to use call centers where employees can take regular breaks as needed. Customer service can be very stressful work, and sometimes people just need a few minutes to decompress.
The higher the stress level of call agents, the less helpful they will be to customers. Growing your business with happy, loyal customers means having call agents who are able to be positive and receptive with all kinds of communication.
Show Agents the Right Way
Call center management needs to be responsible for coaching agents properly. The feedback they review includes metrics such as call lengths and hold times. Reinforcement of non-tangibles like empathy and product knowledge are also key.
Reinforcing the right way to handle a customer works long term. Shout-outs, feedback systems or points toward a bonus are motivators. Managers lead call agents to the positive behaviors both you and customers will love.
Using a call center with managers who are effective coaches can make all the difference. They know their staff and their individual abilities. Some staff know the right way to handle a certain caller is to just follow their instincts. Being too rigid when following a standard operating procedure can interfere with a successful outcome. The fact is that most people just don’t respond very well to this kind of rigidity.
Good managers know that one of the best ways to go about training call center agents is to assess each one’s experience and education level. Not all agents are the same, so you should make an effort to treat each one as the unique employees they are.
Utilize Call Recordings
Another helpful tip for managers to promote dealing with customers effectively involves the use of past call recordings. When agents listen to calls that are handled particularly well by more experienced employees, they will get a better understanding of what to do in the future.
This method of learning by example can be extremely effective. It is a good idea to let call agents listen to a variety of previous calls so as to prepare them for a wide range of possible situations that could occur.
Additional Websites Available for Training
Below is a list of online training sites with a track record of quality and easy access with many offering some kind of certification.
Lynda.com and Free Classes
Scores of companies use micro learning programs like those on Lynda.com. Their top-notch trainers are industry experts who offer everything from business courses with customer service training to software development design, web development and photography.
Their website is a Linkedin company that offers over 1,000 different business courses, many that can be valuable to your staff. The courses that are offered are in-depth and can be of real benefit to your customer service agents.
Reviews show their platform is an outstanding resource for video-based, online learning that is easy to use and well worth the time. And while there are modest fees for their service, you can take advantage of their 30 day free trial that can save your business some money.
Another advantage is that you can take the courses this site offers from any computer or mobile device that can connect to the internet. And they broadcast programs on Apple TV.
This global online training site offers certification for customer service. All their training is free.
Students must pass each component before progressing. Several of these modules are perfect for most types of business.
Some of the additional types of courses this website offers include technology, language, humanities, business, marketing, and math. All of these subjects can be beneficial to customer service workers in one way or another.
When you visit benchmarkportal.com, you will find some very effective solutions for improving your business’s customer support. This site has numerous industry experts that can provide your agents with valuable training and information that will benefit them on a daily basis.
There are a number of different plans available through this site, including on-site certification and virtual certification. You can also opt for a professional assessment of your current call center to learn about how you can improve it.
You will also find that this site offers lots of useful free resources. This site is definitely one of the best places on the web for call center certification and training.
Another good place for call center training on the internet is Icmi.com. This site offers a series of courses that are specifically designed to help train call center agents to be as effective as possible in this line of work. The virtual classrooms on this website offer live interactive training at minimal expense.
The client-site training services that are also available through Icmi.com are perfect for training small or large groups of people at once. It consists of practical application exercises and case studies that are taught by experienced and knowledgeable instructors.
When you are looking for top quality call center certification and training, msicertified.com is one of the best places on the internet. This site’s Call Center Associate Certified Training Material & Test has a lot to offer. There are many valuable resources here for businesses that want to improve their call center as a whole. The program includes an extensive audio/video slide presentation as well as an exam that is made up of 25 questions.
Some of the topics that are covered in this training include “controlling your tone”, “asking efficient questions”, “how to provide information”, “telephone conversations”, “how to transfer”, “lack of body language”, and “how to listen”. This can provide call agents with the information they need to do their jobs as effectively as possible.
Train on Your Mission by Pairing up Service Agents
Many call centers have a mission or a model for their employees. Of course, it should center around their customers. Some provide that a “one call resolution” as the goal while others believe that timely resolution is paramount. Whatever works best for your particular business should be at the heart of your training program.
Pairing up new agents with a long-term employee ensures your goal passes on to the whole group. Your new employees can learn a great deal from the more experienced ones. At AnswerFirst, we use a system called “The Buddy Program” to pair new hires with experienced agents who have worked in the same role.
Training and Consistency for Call Center Certifications
Not all certification programs or training are the same and no single program will meet the needs of every business. Review the options and choose the training and certifications that are the best fit for your business.
Implement training and then be consistent. When every phone agent is working on the same page, customers get quality 100% of the time.
If you’re struggling with running your in-house call center effectively then consider outsourcing to a professional contact center. At AnswerFirst we have over 20 years of experience and we provide cost effective call center solutions for thousands of businesses around the globe.
Need help with more solutions? Check out our blog to learn more.