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Training Takes on New Importance in Call Center

May 01, 2015

When was the last time you called a customer service center and realized you knew more about their product than the agent on the phone? This is not an uncommon phenomenon when the call center focuses on little more than filling seats with warm bodies and workforce management is just a scheduling tool. If intensive training on products, services and quality customer care are not part of the onboarding process, the call center (and the company it supports) could be losing business.

In a survey of some 5,000 consumers throughout the U.S., eGain discovered a few key pain points among the audience. First, when calling the customer service center, different customer service agents provided different answers in 41 percent of the cases. Agents didn’t know the answer 34 percent of the time and 31 percent of the time an answer couldn’t be found on the company website. Such findings suggest that companies are falling short when it comes to training agents on the proper way to handle a customer call.

In all reality, agents won’t know all answers to every possible question, but they should be able to navigate a knowledgebase to find the information they need while the customer is still on the line. If that information is not easily located or search terms produce different results for different agents, customers will have different experiences each time they call. That’s a problem for companies that are hoping to drive loyalty and set themselves apart from the competition.

This is easier said than done, however. According to the Forrester (News - Alert) Report, Contact Centers Must Go Digital or Die, only 44 percent of decision makers in the contact center actually have agent-facing knowledge management solutions. As a result, agents fielding the more complex questions cannot easily access the content they need, or they are making decisions based on the limited information they have available. In an attempt to provide customers with what they think they want, they are actually compounding the problem.

In a recent Fonolo (News - Alert) blog, the guest blogger examined six of the most common internal communications challenges that exist within today’s companies. And while the contact center is often a primary communication point, it can struggle with a few of these as well, including information overload. Agents simply have too much information they have to keep straight, even before entering the knowledgebase. This could be solved with focused training, but management could also consider routing according to specialized information or skills among the agent base, something easily done with workforce management.

Unrealistic targets are also common as a lack of training often leads agents to fall short of expectations. Plus, if decision makers are not interested in training agents or providing them with the tools necessary to achieve set goals, agents will soon learn the priorities and their dissatisfaction will quickly reveal itself in the way they treat customers.

Contact center agents are often the first touchpoint between a company and its customers. If they aren’t given the right tools to deliver the exceptional experience, customers are more likely to look elsewhere when it comes to spending their money.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

Technology Marketing Corporation

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