The technology you are using for your contact center is important, and you can find an array of tools from NICE CXone. However, you also need to have good people working with those tools to ensure that your customers have the best possible experience when dealing with your company. You must have a team of trained call center agents who can handle all the various needs that your customers might have.
Never underestimate the power of a great agent to help boost the loyalty of your customers. Just be sure that you’re providing the call center agents with all the tools they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
The call center agents, also called customer service representatives and a range of other titles, can work in a physical call center, or they may work virtually. Their job tends to center around interacting with customers through various communication channels and providing them with help. For example, they might:
- Communicate with a customer over SMS/text
- Answer emails
- Handle inbound phone calls
- Live chat with customers
- Make outbound calls
- Respond to support tickets
In some cases, this might mean help with placing an order, assisting with issues with products or services, addressing billing problems, etc. Often, the agents will be the only human contact the customer has with the company. The call center agents require a range of training, and after completing training, they will be assigned to a team with a supervisor that will monitor and coach the agents.
The job of a call center agent can be demanding, and NICE CXone provides a range of tools, discussed below, that can help to make the work somewhat easier.
Why Are Call Center Agents So Important?
Remember, the contact a customer has with your business might solely be through your call center agents. They are on the front line when it comes to customer service. Even though customers might buy your products through an online store, the only real interactions they will have is with the agents. Therefore, the agents help to color the customer perception of your business.
Agents can present your company in a good light, as long as you’ve hired the right employees who have great tools and who have been trained properly. The agents can smooth over problems, help to answer questions the customers have and provide them with a good overall experience. This helps your company’s bottom line.
Failure to have quality call center agents could eventually lead to your company hemorrhaging customers. If they are not getting what they feel is adequate service through your company, they are likely to head to your competition. They may also leave negative reviews of your company on social media and other sites, which can damage your reputation and your business.
Call centers with good agents help to build customer confidence and loyalty. They can help to increase sales, customer satisfaction, and ensure that your company isn’t losing out on any opportunities to make further sales. A great call center can help to further solidify your brand and provide your company with a professional image. It can also provide you with a competitive advantage that you can’t ignore.
Of course, you first need to be sure you have the best agents on the job and that they are getting proper training. They also need to have a suite of tools like those from NICE CXone to do the job right.
Hiring the Right Call Center Agents
When you are hiring agents to work in your contact center, you need to be sure that you’re hiring the best candidates for the job. Although many think that this is an easy job, it takes a certain set of skills and a certain type of person to do the job well.
Naturally, you want to be sure that the people you’re hiring are good listeners. A major part of communicating effectively is being able to listen and understand what the customers are saying. It also often means reading between the lines of what the customer has to say. The agents can’t presume to know what the customer needs without listening and asking the right questions. Good communication skills are a must.
Those who have previous call center experience could be good choices to become your call center agents. However, experience shouldn’t be the only qualifier, and it doesn’t even need to be a requirement. While having experience can help, you want employees to come in fresh and with an open mind to how you do things at your center and who are willing to use the tools you have available for them.
Ultimately, you want someone who communicates clearly, listens, and who has the wherewithal to learn how to use the technology you have to the advantage of themselves and the customers. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to train the agents who come aboard. It’s important to have continual feedback and coaching for the agents, as well. It will help them to learn where and how they can make improvements in their job.
Are Virtual Call Center Agents a Good Idea?
Many companies today are considering using virtual call center agents. These are still humans who are making contact with the customers. The virtual aspect simply refers to their location. Rather than working in a physical call center as was common in the past, these agents work from remote locations. They might even be in another country.
Through the adoption of cloud technology, it has become easier for companies to hire remote agents that may be used in addition to their brick and mortar agents. Other companies have chosen to use only virtual agents because it cuts down on their overhead costs. They don’t need to have space to house a full crew of agents since virtual agents work from home.
There is often more flexibility with remote agents, as well. People who are working from home have been found to be as productive or even more productive than those who are working in-person. Another benefit is that it can help to open up your hiring possibilities since you can hire those who are outside your geographic area. This means you have a much deeper pool of potential agents, allowing you to find those who are best suited for your company.
As long as the remote workers have a decent computer and a connection to the Internet, they can still access all the same tools and information as those who are working in a brick and mortar center. Although there are challenges to working with remote employees, these are not insurmountable. Many other companies have done it and are continuing to do it.
In 2020, many companies opted for remote work options in many positions for the safety of their employees. It’s a good option to consider. Of course, you’ll need to continue using your same hiring principles when bringing aboard new agents.
What Types of Training Should Call Center Agents Receive?
Before a call center agent goes live at your company, you need to be sure they’ve received proper training. This is typically the responsibility of the supervisors. They will conduct the training, develop the programs, and make improvements to the future interactions of training. They will also handle coaching, discussed in the next section.
The training should cover several subjects, all of which are equally important. These include:
- Brand training
- Use of various channels
- Use of other NICE CXone technology
One of the first and most important things to consider when training is etiquette. You need to make sure your agents have a full understanding of what they should say and shouldn’t say, along with how to say it to ensure the customers are taken care of properly. It can often be helpful to provide them with transcripts or recordings of other calls they can listen to that was done correctly.
Along the same lines, you need to ensure the agents have brand training. Each company is different and has different requirements when it comes to handling customers. You need to be sure that your call center agents not only answer the customer’s questions but that they are in line with your company’s brand in how they do it. Having a clear company mission and outlook helps with this.
Keep in mind that this can sometimes be more difficult with remote agents who aren’t around for the day-to-day operations of the company. Create documentation that helps the agents better understand the brand and how they should talk with the customers.
Use of Various Channels
Although the term call center agent is used, there’s a chance that the agents will be working with customers who are using other forms of communication. NICE CXone provides omnichannel support. This means that an agent might be dealing with traditional calls, social media messages, emails, or any number of other methods of contact.
The agents need to have a solid understanding of these channels and how to use them properly. With NICE CXone, the experience of using the different channels is seamless and can be done from the same interface. Still, the agents need to understand how to use the product properly for the best results. The same is true of the other types of technology, as noted below.
Use of Other NICE CXone Technology
Although NICE CXone offers easy to use technology with intuitive interfaces, it still requires training to use it properly. Part of the training for the call center agents needs to be focused on the various products they’ll be using. Good training in the software means fewer potential issues, better productivity, and happier customers and agents.
Additionally, all the objectives of the company should be clear. The expectations of your call center agents should be transparent and easy for the agents to understand. They should also have a means of contacting a supervisor or mentor when they run into problems or have questions. This ensures that they are more likely to get in touch rather than muddle through the contact with the client, which could result in an unsatisfactory conclusion.
Improving Your Call Center Agent Coaching
Even after the agents have received their training, they will still need coaching. Being a call center agent is a job that requires continual learning and improvement. Coaching should be seen as a positive for the agent and their supervisor. Many supervisors worry about coaching because they don’t want it to feel as if they are punishing the agents or that it’s just a one-sided affair. Fortunately, there are some simple coaching tips that supervisors can use to make the coaching more effective.
First, it’s important for the supervisors to properly prepare before the coaching session with one of their agents. Preparation, in this case, means ensuring that all the reports and data regarding the areas where improvement is needed. It’s also important to not be confrontational. Instead, this is a learning session that’s meant to help the agent.
Rather than holding the session in a public location at the call center, it’s better to have a meeting room where the coaching can be completed. This is easier when working with virtual agents since the supervisors can just initiate a private video call.
Rather than just telling the employees what they need to do to improve, the coaching should be collaborative. The agent should feel free to provide their suggestions, to ask for further training or help, or to make suggestions. It’s often good to have the agent create a self-assessment report before the coaching session. Often, this allows the agent to think about the areas where they need to improve. If they already know where they need to better themselves, they can more easily work with the supervisor to find ways to make those improvements.
A good tactic for supervisors to remember is that they need to focus on the behavior rather than the agent. Focusing on the agent can lead them to feel like they’re being attacked. The target should be the behavior and ways to improve it. Keep in mind that when an agent feels attacked or underappreciated, it can sometimes lead to more problems. It may even result in the agent leaving, which will increase the turnover in the company.
Keep in mind that coaching needs to be an ongoing process. It’s not something that can be done once and forgotten about. Constant maintenance is required, so the supervisors can better gauge the effectiveness of the coaching and areas where they may need to improve.
Coaching should always be construed as a good thing, not a negative. It’s a way to get better and to make the company stronger.
The Right Tools Make All the Difference in the World
NICE CXone is the market leader in call center software. The tools available today are being used by more than 300,000 agents around the world. You’ll find solutions that can help with training, managing, and motivating call center agents. The cloud-native suite of applications is geared to help make the lives of the agents better, so they can be more productive, while also ensuring the best outcome for customers.
With NICE CXone, you’ll find omnichannel routing, as mentioned. The software is intelligent enough to route calls to the agents who will best serve them, as well. This ensures that the contacts are headed to the best agents for the job the first time, so customers don’t have to continually be shuffled from one department to the next.
Additional tools from NICE CXone that can help your agents include the workforce optimization and management tools, automation and artificial intelligence to speed up mundane tasks, and MAX, or My Agent eXperience. This provides call center agents with the tools they need to streamline their interactions with customers regardless of the channel. It also allows for more personalization, which is important to most customers.
With the right agents in place, along with the right training and the right tools, it helps to improve your productivity. It also ensures that your customers will be satisfied with the results when they make contact with your company. Companies that want to improve productivity further may want to consider allowing remote workers or even offering incentives to agents for jobs well done’
Why Use NICE CXone for Your Call Center Agents?
The call center agents are a massive asset to your contact center. Your agents need to be properly trained and coached, they need to be provided with the tools needed to self-improve and to better handle the requests from the customers. NICE CXone provides what you need for your agents whether they are handling calls at a center or virtually. Get in touch to learn more about NICE CXone’s features and benefits.