The first step to exceptional customer service and call center performance is a well-trained agent. A thoughtfully-built and engaging onboarding program is just one of the many tools call centers should implement to increase agent productivity and long-term success.
The turnover rate in call centers is high, with one in four employees leaving their call center position each year. The great news is that successfully onboarding and training call center employees during their first year on the job increases retention by as much as 25%.
While preparing a new agent and getting them up to speed can take some time, the effort is rewarded tenfold. A thorough new employee onboarding process instills agents with well-rounded knowledge of both the product and corporate culture, allowing them to assist customers with confidence and engage them with the brand’s voice. Here are five common traits shared by companies with the best onboarding programs.
Start with a process flow chart
An onboarding process flow chart for new agents is a fantastic part of any new employee training. A well-documented, repeatable onboarding process is critical to ensure an efficient and effective onboarding experience. Using a flow chart for the onboarding process for new hires allows the manager to onboard agents consistently, comprehensively, and quickly without reinventing the wheel each time. Additionally, the flow chart can help managers understand the onboarding stages and for the new agent.
Choose people-oriented over action-oriented
It’s easy to stick a new agent in a classroom to work through endless amounts of paperwork and PowerPoint presentations. It’s also ineffective. Instead, design your onboarding process to include interactive and social experiences for every new agent. Consider tapping into the expertise of other team members— allowing new agents to meet other employees, executives, and the company’s CEO to learn more about the history of the company, what other departments do, and how they operate. This helps agents understand the entire business and empowers them to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Never stop growing.
Assign a peer mentor
A brand-new work environment can be intimidating, to say the least. To ensure new agents receive continued support and assistance, many leading onboarding programs pair them with an experienced agent. Call center mentor responsibilities boil down to serving as the point person for the new agent to go to with simple questions. The mentor also streamlines the adjustment period for a new agent and provides a familiar, friendly face. Giving new agents a mentor helps them get acquainted with the less formal aspects of the job while they adapt to the new company culture. This human connection makes a huge difference for a new agent—helping to integrate them into the new team.
Include transition training
Keep in mind that onboarding and training are not interchangeable—training has a major role in the overall onboarding program. While new agents receive training on products, services, and processes during onboarding, it’s not enough to propel them through on-the-job challenges. Companies with successful onboarding programs continue nurturing new agents through a transition period, also known as call center nesting training. This training places new agents in a controlled environment to help familiarize themselves with handling real customer contacts. New agents take calls while being closely monitored and coached. This nesting time is a great opportunity for agents to practice and hone their call-handling skills and knowledge.
Check in more than seems necessary
An agent’s first few weeks are a critical development period. The habits they build during this time are likely to stick, so it’s important they are in-line with best practices and role responsibilities. An easy way to measure progress is with frequent, informal check-ins. At the very least, provide a wrap-up at the end of their first week, but a devoted time period at the end of every day provides is even more beneficial. Check-ins keeps new agents on course and provides reassurance about their progress. After their first few weeks on the job, follow-up with the new agent to receive feedback on your onboarding program. See what areas agents continue to struggle with and provide additional support in these areas. Surveying new agents sheds light on enhancements that need to be made to the onboarding program. This feedback loop also lets agents know their opinions and thoughts are valued—another essential aspect of employee engagement.
New agent onboarding doesn’t have to be complicated. Use these onboarding best practices to create an exemplary onboarding process, retain talent, and empower agents to make a lasting and positive impact on your call center. The long-term benefits of great onboarding are nearly endless.
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