It’s not uncommon in the contact center industry to discuss agents as if they were a unified type of person: generic workers with a common set of traits and skills. It doesn’t help that in the early days of the contact center, workers were often referred to as “butts in seats,” which implied that they had a robotic, automated quality: any worker with a pulse and the ability to talk on the phone would do.
We know nowadays that this isn’t the case. Call center workers come from many different backgrounds, skill sets, education levels and experience. In an era when customer support must be robust, personalized and effective, hiring the right people and training them in accordance with their abilities is critical. In the industry, it’s called “onboarding,” and it may involve a very nuanced approach, according to a recent blog post by cloud contact center solutions provider Five9 (News - Alert).
“Getting agents off to the right start has many advantages: they get up to speed more quickly, are more effective at converting prospects or supporting customers, and are less likely to make newbie mistakes that can turn into unpleasant fire drills,” wrote the blogger.
Too many agents report that after being hired, they are given the briefest of training and put on the phones to sink or swim. The problem is that you can’t treat your customers like guinea pigs for new or unprepared agents. This risks harming valuable customer relationships, and can erode a company’s brand and reputation very quickly. It’s therefore critical to have a good plan to onboard agents, and tailor each plan to an agent’s existing skills, experience and personality.
Five9 recommends the following checklist for an agent’s first day. These small steps will help agents feel welcome and part of a team, and will also help communicate the call center’s goals to the agent so he or she can align their performance with the organization’s expectations. These steps include:
- Greet new agents with name tags/place cards
- Present a fun gift that reinforces your company culture
- Describe your contact center’s vision, mission, and passion
- Explain the importance of the new agent’s role
- Pair your employee up with an experienced buddy/sponsor/mentor
- Get an executive to welcome new arrivals
- Go over benefits, policies, and any unusual customs (get HR to help)
- Make sure everyone has a buddy or fellow new-hire to chat with at lunch
- Get all the needed forms completed (but don’t make this a core focus)
There is an old saying that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and in the contact center industry where turnover tends to be high, it’s absolutely critical to start agents off well if you expect them to act effectively as your brand ambassadors.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi