We all possess greatness when we unlock our full potential. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager, an executive, or a call center agent – we each have our own strengths and areas where we excel.
Sometimes, though, that potential sits untapped. Without the right encouragement and guidance, it can be tough to perform at our highest levels, find our strongest skills, and grow ourselves personally and professionally. And when you lead a team of people, it’s on you to help your team members become their best selves.
But have no fear, I’m here to give you tools to help your call center agents flourish. When you dedicate time to coaching and training your call center agents, you help them unlock their full potential and deliver outstanding experiences.
Here are 3 Call Center Training Templates to Improve Your Agents’ Performance
1. A 1:1 template for individual coaching sessions
The 1:1 is paramount to coaching and training your call center agents. It’s a chance for you to bond with your agents. It’s also a chance for you to address any issues (performance or personal) your agents may be having. Use this quick guide as a reference to ensure you’re maximizing your time with your agents.
Your guide for a productive 1:1:
- Have your talking points and meeting structure ready. Always come prepared to your 1:1s with supervisors and agents. Send out an agenda prior to the 1:1 giving your employees ample time to prepare if you ask something of them. Maybe you asked them to review feedback you left on an interaction or you sent them a report with a summary of their metrics and asked for their thoughts. Whatever the case, leave enough room in their schedules to accomplish the tasks you ask before you meet.
- Treat your agents like adults. Never make your agents feel like children you have to babysit. Even if you need to address their performance. Give them a safe space and make them feel comfortable with you, no matter the tough topics you have to bring up.
- Remember, a 1:1 is their time. Make the 1:1 about your agents and for your agents. Give them room to guide the conversation, get clarity on goals and expectations and ask any questions they need to.
- Allow your agents to speak freely. Be a sounding board for your team members. Give them a space to let off steam if they need to, and offer room in your template or agenda for them to give you feedback on your call center training, too. Then, address the issues and questions they have and provide guidance for a path forward.
This call center training template isn’t the only way to structure a 1:1, but it’s a great starting point. As you grow in your role and learn about your individual team members, you’ll find a structure that’s best for you, your supervisors, and your agents. The most important thing to remember about a 1:1 is that it’s your agent’s time. Your direct reports should be the focal point and everything you discuss should make them better.
2. An intro and outro template for customer interactions
First impressions are everything. The very first interaction between customers and agents has a lasting effect that lives far beyond the initial moment. Overcoming a poor first impression is close to impossible. In fact, we typically remember our first encounter more than anything that succeeds it – this is known as the primacy effect. You don’t want your agents putting themself behind the 8-ball (that’s how you sink a customer relationship in one shot). So, coach your agents on how to kick off interactions to keep customers happy from the very first touchpoint.
Here’s an example intro:
Thank you for calling (company name). My name’s (agent name)! To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?
Short, simple and effective. Simple scripts like thanking the customer for calling and opening with a friendly greeting go a long way. It’s easy to get the warm, tingly feeling when you hear “my pleasure” at Chick-Fil-A. Having your agents introduce themselves at the start of a conversation adds a personalized touch and can help the customer feel at ease. Plus, using the customer’s name in conversation makes the customer feel acknowledged and valued. Since 70% of the customer’s journey is based on how the customer feels they are being treated, it’s important to step into the shoes of your customers in every interaction.
As important as your customer introduction, how your agents end an interaction is just as important. This is your agent’s final chance to speak to the customer and ensure they solved the customer’s issue. Make sure the customer is satisfied before ending the call (or expect customer callbacks in your near future). Once your agents feel they’ve addressed the customer’s initial ask, they can use one of the below training templates for a consistent way to end an interaction.
Here’s an example outro:
(Customer Name), Is there anything else I can help you with?
Encourage agents to use the customer’s name where they can in the convo. It’ll help your agents connect to the customer on a more personal level.
If the customer’s answer is yes, then obviously your agent can proceed with the customer’s next request. Always make sure the customer is satisfied before ending the call. If the customer’s answer is “nope, I’m all set,” then your agent can move on and wrap up the conversation with their own rendition of this simple script.
Well, (Customer Name), thank you for calling (Company Name), it’s been a pleasure helping you. I hope you have a great day! Please reach out if you ever need anything else.
Again, short, simple and effective. The main function of your agents’ intro and outro statements is to give them control and confidence in the conversations they have with customers. Each call can be unpredictable, but having an opening and closing statement ensures that each call starts and ends the same way. This adds stability and increases the odds that your agents will better help customers.
3. A template for giving feedback
There’s nothing fun about having a struggling agent (for you or for them). But as a manager, giving feedback and training your team is a part of your responsibilities (arguably the most important part).
The first thing to remember when you’re correcting an agent’s performance is to address the issue head-on. You should be direct with your agents or supervisors but find some empathy and try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to grasp the agent’s vantage point of the situation. They may have a completely different perspective than you. Often, this kind of a disconnect is the cause of many issues. Differing viewpoints might mean you and your agents aren’t aligned on goals, leading to lower productivity and a worse customer experience.
It’s time to role-play. Picture it; Sicily 1922 (any Golden Girls fans in the building?)…
Let’s say you have an agent that’s struggling to retain information. No matter how many times you explain a concept or provide tools they just can’t grasp the information.
This is an excellent point to bring up in a 1:1 conversation. You don’t want to single the agent out in front of the entire team. There’s no reason to embarrass them. It’s likely they’re already feeling some embarrassment from having to continuously ask for help with the same issue.
Use this template to kick off feedback in your 1:1 training with call center agents:
“(Agent Name), I’ve noticed that you’re struggling with ______.”
First, use agent performance data to support your claim so it’s not just opinion-based. In this example, you could offer up the various times you’ve had to help the agent with the same topic. And, you can pull in performance data to show the agent how the issue impacts their core metrics. (For example, maybe you point out that their handle times are three minutes above the rest of their peers because they have to keep pinging supervisors for help on the same topic).
Next, ask the agent for an explanation. There may be a reason they’re struggling with this particular concept. From there you can craft a support plan to correct the issue. Let’s try to turn this L into a W.
In this role-play, you’re addressing the issue in your agent’s 1:1. But that doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate as a team to help correct it. Much like we’re doing now, take some time in your next team meeting to role-play customer scenarios, too. Base one of the role-plays around the issue your agent repeatedly struggles with (but remember, don’t single out the agent by name).
Not only is it a great refresher for the whole team, but a teammate may be able to help the agent better grasp the information or come up with a solution you hadn’t thought of. Sometimes, people freeze up when talking to a leader and they learn more effectively from a peer. Don’t shy away from feedback. Instead, work together to overcome issues and find a solution that meets your agent’s needs.