Training new agents, support technicians or operators is not always easy. There is often a lot to learn before you are ready to receive customers’ questions and problems over the phone. By having a good plan for what the training and onboarding should look like, you can save a lot of time while the new employee gets a better start on their new job.
Here are our 4 tips for how to onboard a new agent in the best way.
1 Scalable distribution of information
Training new colleagues takes time, that’s just the way it is. But there are ways to streamline knowledge sharing and make learning more effective.
In most companies, there is that go-to person that you turn to when you need help, but it is not scalable or effective when a company becomes so person-dependent. In order to train new agents and support technicians in a productive way, it is good to gather important information so that everyone can reach it, at any time. Expanding a knowledge bank or a help center is something that companies can benefit greatly from as both customers and employees can quickly find the information they are looking for.
To then invest in an educational tool, where you can, in a fun and educational way, take part of important knowledge, can take your company’s onboarding to new heights. At Soluno, we have created MyAcademy, an e-learning tool that helps our employees and partners to keep their level of knowledge up to date and at the same time simplifies the onboarding of new colleagues.
2 Basic phone etiquette
Another good thing to teach new support staff is telephone etiquette. For people who have worked in customer service for a long time, many things can become obvious and therefore they are easy to forget when training new colleagues. Small nuances in how to receive and handle customers by phone can make a big difference. Here are some things that belong to good telephony etiquette:
Conversational tone and engagement
It may sound obvious, but when you call a support or customer service, you do not want to be received by a monotonous “hello and welcome”. Go through the importance of a pleasant tone of conversation and to show the customer interest and engagement. As basic as it may sound, there are surprisingly many who miss that particular part when they train new employees.
Communicate waiting times
Sometimes you do not have the answer straight away and you need to investigate the matter. Saying to the customer “please hold” is not enough information. Go through the importance of informing approximately how long the customer is expected to wait and to come back with updates if something should take longer.
Connect calls correctly
Sometimes a customer does not end up with the right person and the conversation needs to be redirected. Then make sure the agent knows how to check that the new receiver is available and how to make monitored connections. It is extremely frustrating for a customer, who may have already been in a telephone queue, to then be connected to a person who is busy.
Summarise the conversation
A good way to end a conversation is to summarise what has been done, especially if you are working with a technical or complicated solution. “Now we have changed X to remedy your problem, should anything further arise, you are of course more than welcome to contact us again”. It helps the customer gain insight into what has been done, which is beneficial if the problem persists and the customer comes in contact with a new agent.
3 Listening and giving feedback
To give the new agent a good insight into how calls usually goes, it can be good to let the employee listen to some recorded calls or listen to live calls. By pairing headsets, the new employee can easily listen to the call while he or she sees how the handling takes place in different portals and systems. At Soluno, we use Plantronics headsets, a brand that makes it easy to pair when listening in.
When a new agent has gained enough basic knowledge, it’s time to start receiving their own calls. Here, too, it is important to actively coach. Again, listening in or call recording is a good tool where you as a coach can then give feedback after the call.
Whisper Coaching and Call Barging are also common approaches when it comes to training new agents. Whisper Coaching is when the new agent and the coach can both hear the call but where the customer can only hear the agent. During the conversation, the coach can give the agent feedback and help, without the customer hearing. Call Barging is like a normal three-way call and the coach can both hear and talk to the customer.
4 Clear goals
When the new agent then begins to become more and more self-sufficient, it is good to set clear goals. How many calls is the agent expected to take, how many tickets are expected to be completed and so on. Having clear goals can help the employee get started and push him or her to develop in the right direction. Here it is extremely important to set goals that can be achieved and that are reasonable. It goes without saying that no one is happy with a new job if they are expected to achieve unreasonable goals.
Of course, there are many pieces that must fall into place to get a good onboarding of new operators, support technicians or agents, but if you use the four steps above, you have a good foundation to continue working on.