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Your front lines: Training your calling center to represent your brand

Your front lines: Training your calling center to represent your brand

You’ve installed a marketing plan intended to drive more calls to your business, and you look forward to leveraging those calls into revenues.

But is your calling center equipped to pleasantly and efficiently maximize any call that comes its way? Even the most well-crafted marketing can go awry without a staff expert in converting calls to sales — and at handling any customer problems that arise.

“The commitment of time and money to any training center for call center agents is not something companies should undertake lightly,” notes Shauna Geraghty on Talkdesk.com. “Yet often managers struggle to explain their process for these activities, to their company’s detriment.”

Some tips for creating a knowledgeable and effective call center team:

– Show new team members the big picture, ensuring they understand how they fit into the company culture, how customer experience at the calling center level impacts loyalty and how agent efforts affect the firm’s bottom line. “Many successful companies have learned the importance of maximizing every opportunity to interact with customers, rather than treating contact centers as just cost centers,” notes Fonolo.com. “That attitude has to emanate from the CEO and trickle on down to CSRs.”

– Teach agents how to accurately represent the company’s personality and brand. Studies show customers increasingly expect the same “brand voice” whether interacting by phone, online or in person. Think about how Disney pulls that off.

– Use a hands-on approach, since most people learn more easily through active engagement.

Train new agents by group according to when they joined the company, encouraging critiquing of recorded calls and role playing. That negates comparisons with more seasoned employees.

– Review intelligence from incoming calls to determine what approaches are most effective. Dial800’s CallView360 software can help with that by recording and timing calls, tracking sources and conversions, and compiling cost per call, cost per lead and ROI.

– Ensure agents know how to respond to customers who are angry, upset or even abusive.

– Consider maximizing the strengths of employees and training them in specialty areas so certain calls can be routed automatically to them accordingly. Some firms place skilled workers at “save desks” to convince customers to stay on board when they’re upset or threatening to cancel.

– Conduct continuous assessments of training processes. What’s actually working for your firm and employees may be different from the prevailing wisdom.

– Overcoming broader obstacles for call center systems is much more effective than one-on-one coaching, argues Dennis Adsit on isixsigma.com, pointing to solutions like task consolidation and prerecorded call flows instead.

Finally, look at minimizing your employees’ stress to ward off the costly, morale-draining turnover that can result. The issue is prevalent enough that companies like Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Tenacity have taken a scientific approach to addressing it.

“For most companies to survive, agents have to finish calls quickly while making customers happy,” notes Tenacity CEO Ron Davis in Forbes. “It’s a real recipe for burnout. It’s become something senior operations people are putting serious resources into, instead of punting the issue to HR.”

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