Call Center

15 Powerful Call Center Training Methods

The training you provide to your contact center employees prepares them for what’s to come in the workplace and helps them incrementally improve their skills.

Rather than put people outside their comfort zones by asking them to perform tasks they know nothing about or complete requests they haven’t been introduced to, you ease them into a position of leadership by giving them the skills they need to be successful.

But training new and old employees on an ongoing basis can be tough, so here’s a guide to contact center training, along with our top call center training ideas and methods you can put into practice:

Our 15 Most Powerful Call Center Training Methods Are:

  1. Hold regular training sessions
  2. Use video conferencing
  3. Incorporate storytelling
  4. Use technology to monitor agent performance
  5. Use incentives and gamification
  6. Support extra online training
  7. Shadowing
  8. Small group training sessions & discussions
  9. Role-playing to teach empathy
  10. Demonstration for training technical skills
  11. Use speech analytics to identify training needs
  12. Create a buddy system
  13. Curate knowledge base
  14. Host ‘lunch n’ learns
  15. Foster a ‘straight-talking’ culture

What is call center training?

Call center training is any course, seminar, video, coaching session or other activity that teaches the skills and behaviour required for success in a call center.

Most people think of training as a one-time event or program, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, training to use the phones and customer management systems are important, but agents must also learn and practice ‘soft-skills’ like empathy and active listening every day.

Contact center training in the most successful contact centers is an ongoing process — for every employee from the top down.

Call Center Training Best Practice

If there’s one thing any coach or contact center manager will agree with, it’s that the best type of call center training is hands-on.

People learn by practicing, and there’s a very real limit to how much you can learn sitting in the classroom or watching a video. It takes a lot more than watching a video on empathy to actually be an empathetic person.

If you want them to improve, make sure your agents have the time to bring whatever new skill they’ve learnt in the classroom into practice on their calls.

The best type of contact center training is ongoing, practical learning.

Types of Call Center Training

The best way to go about training your contact center employees is in a variety of modalities. It helps the knowledge transfer better — and it keeps things interesting.

1. Live call training

Live call training is, without a doubt, the most important type of training you’ll do in your call center. It’s where any theoretical knowledge will be put into practice, and you’ll see how your agents handle calls under pressure.

It’s for that reason that live call training should be part of onboarding, initial training, and any ongoing training. Agents (and management too!) should always be looking to adjust and improve their phone manner.

2. Classroom training

Although we’ll do the majority of training outside of the classroom, this kind of formalized learning environment definitely has its place. And it doesn’t have to be the classic set-up; everyone in rows facing a teacher. This includes workshops and group activities too — and we’d encourage you to incorporate these as much as possible!

3. Online learning

Online learning is a great way to complement practical and in-house training. There are various online courses that agents and managers can take to bolster their knowledge. But be warned if using it for required learning — this format has the lowest form of engagement.

4. Mentoring or coaching

With the right guidance, there’s always an opportunity for one-on-one learning, which can be very effective. But without a good relationship and good coaching skills, mentoring can be difficult for both the student and the mentor.

It’s for that reason that we don’t see a lot of in-house mentoring in the call center world. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t work with external mentoring programs or encourage your team to find their own coaches.

We’d also suggest setting up an in-house volunteer mentoring program to support employees who are seeking that opportunity for growth and regularly promoting it.

5. One-on-One

One-on-one training is some of the hardest training to do but done right, it can be very effective. It’s a good idea to do this during onboarding so that managers have a chance to sit with new agents and get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

The Single Most Important Thing to Do Before Training Your Call Center Agents

Create a plan.

You’ll need your basic onboarding training plan; how to use the equipment, procedures and processes, company values, etc.

On top of that, each new employee should have a benchmark assessment during a one-on-one session (we’d suggest on live calls) to highlight areas where they need to improve from the start.

This would also be a good opportunity to discuss their career goals and opportunities for advancement. These can then be added to their personal training plan and monitored at regular updates.

1. Hold regular training sessions for all agents

The first thing to make sure you have in your plan is regular formal group training sessions for employees, somewhere between once a month and once a quarter.

These are your chance to bring together everyone and keep them in the loop on new policies and procedures, safety programs, software and hardware, etc. They can also be used to provide regular, customized training from an outside company.

As part of your formal training plan, work in time to send them to conventions, classes, and workshops. These traditional training sessions give employees the opportunity to see, hear, and participate in activities that help the workplace.

2. Use video conferencing for training

Telecommuting changed the way employees work by giving them the opportunity to work from home. Video conferencing takes the place of traditional meetings and gives employees from all over the globe the opportunity to work together easily. We’ve all had a taste of that recently.

But working remotely doesn’t mean you have to stop training. Your team can use Zoom or BlueJeans to attend training sessions and conferences while working remotely.

Video conferencing can also be a great opportunity to bring together different offices or teams, have training from faculties from much further afield, and attend virtual conferences.

3. Incorporate storytelling into your contact center training

Who doesn’t like a good story?

Not only are stories more engaging, but stories also enhance learning and help us to retain information better.

But storytelling is more than that; it’s what makes us human. The power to imagine, to tell stories and by doing so, to transmit information and work together across natural boundaries of all types.

Using real examples, you can identify potential problems and allow employees to come to their own conclusions on how to solve issues quickly and effectively. Telling a story is the only way to activate the parts of your brain that can pair the information with the listener’s own experiences and ideas. A story is how we transfer information.

Put another way, if you’re not taking advantage of our hard-wired ability to turn stories into knowledge, you’re wasting a lot of energy on something else.

There are — no doubt — countless customer stories and examples you can use from your own call center, and these sessions are a great way to test critical thinking skills and encourage discussion.

4. Use technology to monitor agent efficiency and performance

Many contemporary call center software monitors agents’ performance and helps to identify problem areas and time wasters.

The most effective way to do this is to set up each employee with their own ‘Performance Dashboard’, so they can see their own numbers, and one for the managers too.

This empowers employees to make their own improvements, as well as adds an element of gamification for your most competitive agents.

5. Use incentives and gamification

Interested in a reward for a job well done? Very few people argue with the logic of workplace incentives. Small gifts and public praise motivate employees to work smarter, not harder.