Contact Center Agent Guide - Tips & Best Practices
What if your business was a ship?
Your contact center is an important tool like the engine room or control center.
The agents that you hire are your crew and will prove to be an essential part of growing your business.
So whether you’re looking to staff your inbound or outbound contact center, it’s important to get the right people, train them the right way, and treat them right.
But where do you find your crew? How do you train them? And most importantly, how do you empower and encourage them to stay the course time after time?
Where to Find Good Agents
For in-house contact centers, obviously, the answer is to look locally. This allows you to meet with the prospect and gauge whether they will be a good fit for your company’s needs.
If you’re building a virtual contact center, the answer is anywhere in the world. You’ve widened up your search pool.
There is, however, a third option.
By hiring locally and encouraging your agents to work remotely, you’re creating a win-win situation. The company saves money on in-house hosting and using company resources. Meanwhile, agents save money on housing or transportation costs.
Some companies, like NexRep, have even created a business model utilizing 100% at-home agents. Spread throughout the US, their 400+ agents handle hundreds of thousands of inbound and outbound calls every week. In comparison to their competitors, they’ve seen 30-60% more revenue per call and “have literally been doubling our year-over-year growth,” according to their CEO.
Onboarding New Agents
Proper onboarding is critical to both the business and an agent’s initial experience.
By making new hires familiar with your business, products, and services, they will be much more prepared to convert new prospects or support customers that much better.
4 Tips for Onboarding New Agents
- Do the homework- Send pre-reading in advance or ask new hires to study your website and competitor websites.
- Be prepared- Make sure your current team is up to speed, has the proper resources and supplies at the ready, and can answer any questions that may arise.
- Slowly acclimate new hires- Over their first few days, let them know exactly where they fit in and how. Expose them to the company culture and let them know the importance of their position on your mission statement.
- Ensure they speak your language- Another important tip is to make sure they’re familiar with any terms, phrases, or vernacular they may encounter, whether it’s industry or company specific.
Studies have even shown that businesses that give their agents the preparation and tools for maximum success see a 25% higher retention rate than those that don’t.
Creating Good Agents
Do a quick internet search and you’ll find no shortage of inspiring quotes about improvement.
Coaching your contact center agents is a cost-effective way to boost your contact center’s performance.
While supervisors or directors are obvious choices, it can also be an exceptional agent. This also provides a good goal for other agents to strive for.
Helpful Tips for Proper Coaching
- Don’t focus on metrics- While it may be the reason for the coaching, focusing on numbers and data will make it feel like an interrogation or a firing squad.
- Self-review- Ask agents to review their own performances or go over the key points of a recorded call.
- Ask for feedback- Create an open dialogue with your agents to discover issues or roadblocks, then work together to overcome them.
Keeping Good Agents
Never forget the two most important words in the English language…
By showing appreciation to your contact center agents, you offer them a reward that’s almost as important as money.
It doesn’t have to be limited to meeting an important goal or milestone; it could be as simple as a good customer review or even an agent’s birthday.
Monetary rewards have their place, but no value can be placed on making someone feel like they matter. It makes the workplace something to look forward to in the morning (at the very least, a place to LESS dread).
A fun way to do this is to make a game out of it. Offer fun rewards like badges, chips, points, or even the most important of rewards... good parking.
It’s impossible to understate the importance of your contact center agents.
Often times, they are the ones in the direct firing line of unhappy customers and clients and that’s their job for eight or nine hours a day.
Make their experience working for you rewarding and you will reap the benefits.
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