Insights for the Best Customer Service Teams in the Galaxy

If we’ve learned one thing from years of working with customer service teams, it’s that an amazing customer experience is easy to champion, but hard to deliver. The rapidly changing realm of customer service makes it increasingly difficult to provide stellar service over and over again. Our newest ebook, The Future of Customer Service: Insights for the Best Customer Service Teams in the Galaxy, explores the future of customer service and provides forward-thinking teams with insights that will prepare teams for success.

The Crew for the Voyage

The best advice often comes from years of knowledge and experience, so we gathered the input of eight customer service veterans:

  • Mike Aoki, President, Reflective Keynotes
  • Jeanne Bliss, President, CustomerBliss
  • Ben Collet, Director of Global Advocacy, Enterprise & Strategic Accounts, Zendesk
  • Brian Costanzo, CEO/President, SOCAP International
  • Steve DiGioia, Trainer, Coach, Author & Speaker
  • Troy Mills, CEO/Founder, Customer Care Advisory
  • Jeff Toister, Founder, Toister Performance Solutions, Inc.
  • Hui Wu-Curtis, GM Customer Service Operations & Strategy, Arizona Public Services

These thought leaders, trainers, coaches, and speakers drew upon years of customer service experience to identify critical trends for the future of support teams. Read on for a teaser of the ebook, or download now to get the full report!

Oncoming Trends

Successful customer service teams are always learning and practicing—but they’re also looking towards the horizon for insights that will help them do better work. From the evolution of AI, self-service, chatbots, and machine learning to omnichannel strategies that improve customer experience, the support universe will be significantly disrupted in the coming years.

“Customer service teams need to establish a blend of high tech and high touch. The enthusiasm and pendulum swinging to chat, AI, and more is healthy, but companies need to get this in the right order and do it for the right reason.”—Jeanne Bliss

Brace for Impact

There’s no doubt that these technological and customer experience trends will impact the customer service industry. Customer service leaders need to consider both the threats and opportunities these trends pose for their teams. Although these shifts are already a foregone conclusion—enabling customer service teams to succeed takes forethought and leadership.

“Support teams will need to evolve from using tactical elements like a script, guidelines, and standard training methodology to a learning organization that is fluid, agile, adaptable, and quick to market.”—Hui Wu-Curtis

The Tools for the Journey

Our crew of industry veterans unanimously acknowledged the rapid pace of technological change in customer service. Self-service, automation, chatbots, and machine learning have the potential to impact the industry at an unprecedented level—but the experts provided some key insights that customer service leaders should consider before implementing these tools

“Tools such as machine learning make so much more personalization possible. It enables us to capture business intelligence without interfering with the customer experience. But, you have to be careful that you don’t lose the people factor. As advantageous as tech can be, you have to measure it and incorporate it into the human-driven experience.”—Ben Collet

The Qualities of All-Star Reps

The rapidly changing industry also means that customer service reps need to adopt new traits, skills, and competencies to succeed. The increase in interactions, channel diversity, and more complex needs requires reps—and their managers—to think differently about their jobs. This means training in news ways, on new ideas.

“Undoubtedly, a great rep needs compassion to understand the customer on the phone or online is an actual person—not a point of sale or a ‘time-limited’ call to rush off the phone.”—Steve DiGioia

Out-of-this-World Teams

The path to building an effective and successful customer service team may seem daunting. But the future of customer service isn’t a black hole. Our experts have provided advice and tactics to help customer service leaders, managers, and trainers lead their teams towards a better customer experience—and better work.

“Customer service leaders need to get teams on the same page when it comes to outstanding service. This means creating a shared definition of service—a customer service vision. The best visions have three characteristics: They’re easy to understand, customer-centric, and authentic.”—Jeff Toister

Download the Ebook Now!

With this ebook, your customer service team will be better prepared deliver amazing customer experiences in 2018—and beyond. There’s never been a better time to start planning for the future of customer service. Download The Future of Customer Service: Insights for the Best Customer Service Teams in the Galaxy and get started today.

 

4 Frameworks To Reinspire Sales Performance

Just last week, a sales leader told me something simple, yet profound: The best sales teams never stop learning. This may sound obvious—but after years in it can become easy to get complacent and believe we know it all. Constant improvement takes significant, ongoing effort from each and every sales rep, but the dividends it pays are, quite literally, never-ending.

In the spirit of constant improvement, here are a few ideas from well-known sales thought leaders to inspire a different way of thinking about sales in 2018:

The New ABCs of Sales

The traditional salesperson knows the ABCs of sales—always be closing. However author and speaker Daniel Pink has a different vision for the ABCs of sales. Pink suggests the new ABCs of sales should be:

Attunement—It’s immensely important for the salesperson to attune themselves to the needs, wants, and problems of the customers. This means the rep must place themselves in the lower-power position—one of listening and trying to understand where the prospect is coming from.

Buoyancy—Sales can be demoralizing. Buoyancy means internally asking, “Can I do this?” This question prompts healthy “self-talk”, where we positively encourage ourselves to face a challenge and do better work.

Clarity—Finally, it’s up to the sales rep to bring clarity to a muddy situation. A great salesperson makes sense of problems by clearly communicating about their product or service. A posture of helping the prospect solve their issues is an indicator of a great sales rep.

Pink’s ideas aren’t radically new to sales leaders—but the simplicity of his ABC model is a helpful reminder of these invaluable deal-closing tactics.

Ask Great Questions

Sales guru Rick Roberge calls himself a “trusted advisor to 21st-century sales rock stars, founders, entrepreneurs, and startup executives.” One of his most powerful insights is remarkably simple: ask great questions. Roberge compiled an extensive list of questions for salespeople to ask themselves, their teams, or their prospects to inspire better performance. Some include:

Am I missing something?
What am I best at?
What’s the question behind that question?
Are you after a lifestyle business or world domination?
Are you ahead of the competition or lagging?
Is your business on an upswing, downswing, or flat?
The full list of 100 questions is available here.

9 Rules for Inbound Selling

Brian Halligan, the CEO and co-founder of Hubspot, has been instrumental in shaping sales over the last decade. His self-proclaimed rules for selling will refocus any sales team on the basics of their craft.

Rule #1: Practice empathy for your buyer.
Rule #2: Don’t force sales on a bad prospect.
Rule #3: Simplify the customer’s buying experience.
Rule #4: Be a world-class listener.
Rule #5: Be an expert in your field.
Rule #6: Make prospect research a habit.
Rule #7: Delight your customer.
Rule #8: Embody a copywriter.
Rule #9: Connect at the optimal time.

Want to dive into these rules more? Read Brian’s full blog post.

Use Benchmarking to Inspire Performance Improvements

Benchmarking—or comparing one team or company to the rest of the industry—is often a challenge. Compiling actionable data from a large-enough sample set takes significant time and effort. Thankfully for sales teams, our friends at OpenView have done extensive sales benchmarking research. Here are some basic stats they’ve discovered from sales teams across the nation:

The average call-to-conversation rate in sales (the percentage of actual conversations that take place per call attempt) is approximately 9%.

The average lead-to-opportunity rate in sales (the percentage of leads that actually become real sales opportunities) is approximately 12%.

The average sales rep has 29 open opportunities at any given time.

In a month, the average sales rep closes 3.7 new customer deals.

These are just a few of the benchmarking stats that research teams like OpenView’s have discovered. Comparing an individual rep or an entire sales team to these numbers helps provide perspective on areas of success and opportunities for improvement. Here’s the latest benchmarking from OpenView.

Lessonly is built for the sales team that never stops learning

Lessonly’s sales enablement and training software helps reps learn, practice, and perform their skills in order to close more deals. Whether brushing up on competitors or reviewing product pricing, Lessonly’s powerfully simple interface empowers reps across the globe to do better work, faster than ever. Take a tour of Lessonly today.


The Sales Management Funnel: How to Manage A Sales Team Effectively

Sales leadership is a complex calling. Everyday looks different, and pressure to scale both team and quota is omnipresent. Among the key functions of a sales manager is the ability to design a system where their reps can succeed—and thrive.

Patrick Cameron is the Chief Revenue Officer at JumpCloud, where his sales teams sell software that helps companies manage their employee directories and ensure secure connections to the systems, apps, and networks that they use everyday. Patrick has a wealth of experience overseeing rapidly scaling sales orgs—and offered some wisdom about how to create a funnel from new hire to successful rep.

Design a Process

Countless problems cross a sales manager’s desk every week—the best sales leaders don’t just solve problems, they create processes that prevent the problems from recurring. Patrick cites the example of sales onboarding, “At the end of the day, you can get one person to be successful, right? That’s not really what you’re trying to do…the key challenge is scaling your organization.” To do this, Patrick has designed a sales management process from hiring to full productivity for his sales team.

Top-of-the-Funnel: Get the Right People Onboard

Hiring is a core function of every sales manager. Patrick considers this the “top of the funnel” to build a great sales team. But hiring is challenging, so Patrick recommends qualitative scoring and grading to guide the process. “The interviewing group, usually two or three people, pick the criteria that they think are most important for the role—then make sure that they’re quantitatively scoring the applicant based on those criteria.” The goal is to ensure that interviewers are aligned about both the applicant’s capabilities, and the skills needed to do the job.

Patrick also recommends asking a potential sales hire to demonstrate their skills. “For an SDR, that might be cold-calling or trying to move a prospect through email or phone conversations. For a rep, it’s probably more about qualification and understanding where we fit in the market and how they would present our feature set. On the account management side, it’s about escalation—you’ve got a hot customer and how do you handle them? The idea is to make it as life-like as possible so that you get a real sense of how they’re going to behave.”

Patrick also suggests discussing cultural fit with prospective employees—including communication and work styles, mission alignment, and more. He notes, “When we talk through those in a very open and honest way, we make sure that we’re clear on where we think friction might come.” This combination of quantitative grading, demonstration of skills, and cultural fit fills the top of the sales productivity funnel with talented teammates ready to offer above-and-beyond contribution.

Mid-Funnel: Build Out the Structure

The next step for a sales manager looking to help their team perform at the highest level is to build a structure where salespeople thrive. Patrick refers to this as building “lines of defense”.

“Make sure that the employee has the right places to go to ask questions and get answers before escalating to other people. How much can they teach themselves first?”

In order to create a system that promotes independent employee skill and knowledge development, Patrick suggests four sales management strategies:

Open channels for discussion
Use a software tool to create an online forum, group, or other space where employees can learn from one another, or ask questions if they get stumped. This enables employees to find the answers they need—quickly and effectively.

Set up a learning hub
Online training software helps sales teams create, retain, and distribute training and enablement content.  Ensure that this platform offers opportunities to practice pitches, new decks, and more—and cultivates feedback loops from other reps, managers, and sales leaders.

Review game tapes
Record conversations with prospects, and review them with your team. Sales managers should view this as the perfect opportunity to coach reps on best practices and effective tactics that help close deals.

Focus on sales enablement
A regular meeting dedicated to discussing sales processes, product updates, competitors, techniques, and more will do wonders for your team. Patrick suggests, “Get feedback from the team as to what topics are most pressing at the time, and figure out, ‘how can we talk through that?’”

Whatever tactics a sales leader uses to help their team improve, ensure that reps have the tools they need to do their best work—the investment pays remarkable dividends.

Bottom-of-the-Funnel: Develop a Culture

Once the right people are onboard and they’ve been empowered to succeed—what happens next? How do good teams become great ones? The answer lies in developing a culture that is compelling to employees and fosters high performance. The importance of sales management to set the tone for the rest of the team is indisputable. Patrick accomplishes this in a few different ways:

Celebrate both success and failure
Both success and failure are important to recognize with your sales team. Reviewing game tapes is a simple and effective method for sales leaders to do so. Patrick explains, “If you’ve got a recording of a real-life interaction where somebody did a really good job, you can share those across the team. It’s about cultivating or encouraging the idea that we’re learning together. Everybody screws up, it’s going to happen. Let’s learn from it.”

Cultivate coopetition
Coopetition is the marriage of cooperation and competition—a team that works together, but also pushes each other to perform at their best. Patrick uses digital signage to present leaderboards and team-wide metrics to spur rep coopetition, “I want competitive individuals who are trying to better themselves and do more. But at the same time, you want those folks to feel like they’ve got an environment where they can risk things and share things. Fostering both the competition and the collaboration is oftentimes tricky.” But, he asserts, the effort is well-worth it.

Encourage reflection
Sales reps who intentionally think about where they’ve been and where they’re going grow faster. Patrick built a system that encourages this type of reflection. “We’ve got a nice quarterly cadence around our quarterly business review process. At the beginning of each quarter, you do some self-reflection and present that to the team. Later, in your one on one, we discuss what you’re trying to do next, and what skills you need to apply.” This personal process for each rep fosters perpetual growth.

Keep learning
One of Patrick’s mentors reminded him that, “The sales world is incredibly competitive. As a knowledge worker, it’s only gonna get more competitive. So you have to really love what you do, be willing to like read about it in your spare time, and really dive into it—because that’s what’s gonna drive the level of expertise you need to be successful.” Ensuring that every member of the team is inspired towards self-improvement is a surefire strategy for a high-performing culture.

Building a high-performing sales team is no easy feat. The nature of sales management is that the work is never done—it takes intentionality from hiring to designing processes to nurturing a team culture. Patrick’s concluding advice for those who want to become visionary sales leaders?

“Figure out what your passions are and drive toward those. For me, I love building teams. I love the challenge of helping people do things they haven’t done before. So be passionate about what you’re doing, and don’t be afraid to experiment. If you see an opportunity that has elements of passion and challenge, don’t worry about getting sidetracked along the way—that sidetrack might take you where you actually want to be.”

Lessonly helps sales leaders drive high-performance
The day-to-day role of a sales manager is always shifting, and with the evolution of sales management, leaders need a tool they can count on to drive effective sales enablement, provide opportunities for practice, and help reps close deals. Forward-thinking sales leaders at hundreds of companies use Lessonly—will you be one of them? Take a tour today.

How Premiere Response Uses Learning Paths

Providing high-quality customer support for some of the nation’s biggest brands is no small task. It requires accuracy, confidence, and the ability to manage constant change across many clients and products. Premiere Response does all this—and more—with Lessonly.

As one of the nation’s leading third-party contact centers, Premiere Response’s unique scale and experience in customer support made them the perfect partner for our newest feature, Learning Paths. With ever-changing client campaigns, sophisticated training needs, and busy managers, Premiere Response had plenty of ways to use Paths in their training. Just ask Jason Aydelott, Manager of Training and People Development, to hear how Paths empowers their team to do better work.

The Power of Learning Paths

“We have used Paths with our frontline call center representatives…mostly for reinforcement training. The added scheduling flexibility provides more options in design and deployment of training. It fits in perfectly with our strategy of using content objects (small discrete pieces of training).”

Paths enables teams to design entire learning journeys, prompting employees with certain lessons at certain times. Providing employees with learning content over time, drip by drip, allows for continuous reinforcement of important skills and information. This creates flexibility and ease for learners and content creators alike:

“The ability to set specific intervals between lessons allows us to schedule and send out training at a rhythm that fits the needs of the learner. It also makes it easier to balance the needs of the business with a “just in time” learning philosophy. Managers love the ability to “fire and forget” follow-up training. They just assign a single path and know that their agents will get all of the training at the right time.”

Responding to Changing Demands with Paths

Jason and the Premiere Response team used Paths to drive a new product launch for one of their clients. Traditionally, the client provides instructor-led training and an overview on how to handle each type of call. This training usually happens about one week before the product goes to market. There’s only one problem—it’s hard to remember all the details a few weeks later when calls start rolling in. Jason notes,

“Because of the Lessonly’s rapid development workflow, it was easy for me to build a quiz and get a baseline of what knowledge the agents retained from training—and what key points they may have missed.”

Jason needed to address those knowledge gaps—and this is where Learning Paths proved game-changing. He started with four placeholders, separated by wait steps. Using Learning Paths like a training storyboard, Jason took the information he learned from the quiz in Step 1, and developed a Product Overview in Step 2 that addressed gaps in knowledge. Just a few days later, every representative had completed the Path and, just in time, the calls started to roll in.

“The representatives reported feeling more confident in taking calls than in previous launches, and had fewer questions and escalations. With Paths, Lessonly has become an invaluable tool for the spaced repetition critical in reinforcing skills and behaviors.”

This product launch was just the tip of the iceberg for Learning Paths at Premiere Response. Their team is employing Paths across the business, from new hire onboarding to follow-up training with existing reps. Jason is also using Lessonly to build out leadership training, and Paths is the perfect tool to deliver lessons at the pace of the learner, rather than overwhelming employees with countless unfinished lessons.

Premiere Response has seen an immediate impact with Learning Paths—reps are getting up to speed more efficiently and feel less overwhelmed. Even when Jason’s team encounters big changes with quick turnaround times, Paths prepares reps to accurately and confidently deliver a great customer experience. In addition it’s never been easier for Jason to design and distribute effective training content:

“By allowing me to design a Path with placeholders, Lessonly has evolved from being a great rapid e-learning development and deployment platform into being an integral part of my end-to-end development process.”

Get Started with Paths

Jason’s use of placeholders and wait steps in Paths as a storyboard for training inspired us. With his help and expertise, we’re creating a few guides for our customers to use when building their own Paths. If you’re looking for training ideas or inspiration, these guides will guide you as you put Paths to work with your own team. These guides will be freely available to all Lessonly customers via our resource Lessonly University. Stay tuned for more information on this front.

Want to hear more about Learning Paths or Lessonly? Take a tour or reach out to us. We’d be happy to chat and show you how our platform can transform your team’s training.

6 Call Center Performance Indicators To Track in 2018

Galileo was onto something when he declared, “Count what is countable, measure what is measurable, and what is not measurable, make measurable.” To that end, call center key performance indicators (KPI) are an essential measurement tool for customer support teams.

It’s inevitable that change happens to the things you pay attention to. This rings true for call center leaders who see positive transformations when they measure and track their call center efforts. However, many call centers don’t focus the right call center KPIs to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts.

If your call center data and KPIs haven’t generated insights that make a difference in your organization, then it’s probably time to create a new call center KPI list. But first, keep in mind that the most impactful KPIs should have each of these 7 characteristics:

Achievable: Setting unachievable goals is detrimental to agent motivation. Instead, set goals that challenge agents—without overwhelming them—for maximum success. KPIs should have goals that are realistic and achievable—for both agents and the entire customer support team—in order to positively impact the business.

Measurable: Each KPI should be a focused metric that is scalable over time. Look for KPIs that are measured with both qualitative and quantitative data to amplify data and trends.  

Owned: Every KPI should be managed by a specific group of managers or employees on the customer support team. When issues or questions arise, it’s clear who’s responsible for answers.

Simple: Truly helpful KPIs are simple in two different ways. First, they must be easy to understand. Every agent should know exactly what each KPI means and how their role affects it. KPIs should also be easy to track and measure without interrupting daily operations.

Strategic: Call center metrics that matter are directly tied to the organization’s objectives and goals. Every KPI should filter down from overall strategic goals to daily operations for maximum impact.  

Timely: In order to be timely, KPIs should be reported and analyzed during a time period that is relevant to the call center and overall business objectives. Sporadic reports will make it difficult to identify trends and belittle the data’s value.

Visible: Finally, all KPIs should be visible across the entire organization—not just in the call center. It’s easier to meet goals and achieve growth when every employee is engaged and aware of business goals.  

Forward-thinking organizations follow call center metrics best practices and focus on KPIs that measure agent performance, team productivity, and customer satisfaction. It’s time to stop wasting time on KPIs that don’t prompt questions or produce actions that enhance customer support and drive business success. And, because there isn’t just one KPI that can do this, it’s important to create a call center KPI dashboard that balances agent behavior and customer experience. The following call center metrics examples provide a great starting point to step up your KPI game in the new year.

Call Center Agent Performance Metrics:

Agent Turnover Rate: This KPI, which measures the percentage of agents who leave the call center to work elsewhere, should be included in every call center manager’s list of metrics to track over time. The agent turnover rate significantly impacts customer satisfaction, staff scheduling, and team morale—all of which are key aspects of a healthy call center environment.

Call Scoring: A great way to measure agent performance is through call scoring, which allows call center managers to look at individual customer interactions. These reviews make it easier to pinpoint where the team is thriving—and opportunities for improvement. While this KPI usually requires a manual process to evaluate quantitative change over time, it provides key data trends on agent efficiency.  

Call Center Productivity Metrics:

Average Resolution Time: Many call center leaders argue that this KPI is a flawed metric, but it is still useful to track. As a business grows or experiences setbacks, call centers need to understand the general trend of how long it takes agents to solve a problem. This knowledge enables managers to ask and answer questions such as “what issues customers face most often,” or “how do we train agents to quickly solve these customer issues?”

Call Abandonment Rate: Aside from failing to resolve an issue, providing bad service, or giving an incorrect answer to a customer, the next worse outcome is when a caller hangs up before they even reach an agent. This desertion typically happens because a customer reached their threshold for waiting or because they got lost in the options of an automated system. As this rate increases, customer satisfaction drastically decreases.

Call Center Customer Experience Metrics:

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): Exemplary call center teams keep constant watch of their CSAT score. To measure a CSAT, call centers directly ask customers to rate their satisfaction through a well-designed customer survey. This score is based on how happy customers are about a product, transaction, or interaction—which is essential information for any organization that wants to succeed.  

First Call Resolution (FCR): FCR directly correlates with lower customer satisfaction as it examines whether agents properly address the customer’s needs on the first call. Resolving a problem on the first call eliminates the need for the customer to follow-up, which decrease call volume and the likelihood of customer frustration. The more frustrated a customer is, the higher chance they’ll take their business to another company.

Call center support is a highly measurable activity. These examples and call center metrics definitions are just the beginning of your KPI list. Call volume, resolution rates, interaction counts, and numerous other stats should be recorded and measured to tell a compelling story about how your call center team is driving success and contributing to your company’s goals.

Improve your Call Center Key Performance Indicators with Lessonly

Call center support teams around the world use Lessonly to build and share critical knowledge that results in better key performance indicators. Lessonly combines training with your call center effeciency metrics so you’ll see a real return on agent investment. Take a self-guided tour, and see how easy it is to boost your numbers—and deliver an amazing customer experience.

5 Reasons to Revamp your Employee Training Plan for 2018

Most New Year’s resolutions revolve around dieting and fitness training. But, if you’re like most business leaders who are trying to ramp up productivity and engage employees, a more fitting resolution involves overhauling your employee training plan.

Honestly, most companies need to reevaluate their training programs. Many training efforts fail to effectively develop employee skills or provide meaningful learning experiences. As a result, thousands of employees across the globe are wasting time on inefficient training and falling short of their full productivity and potential. Here are five reasons why it’s time revisit your employee training plan template and update your training program.

Training is Too Generic

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to design a training plan that serves every employee. It’s usually not beneficial to settle for a static and generic training plan for everyone from customer support agents to sales representatives. While there are a few training topics in the workplace that all employees need to know, the majority of training should relate specifically to their everyday job.

Focus on developing a training program for one role at a time to ensure employees get exactly what they need for their job. Consider simplifying the process and start with the three most essential functions needed for success in each role. The streamlined attention to detail will provide a clear path to productivity for each employee.

Training Complicates Learning

Most, if not all, training programs involve new knowledge and skills. When designing a training program for employees, it’s crucial to incorporate learning that emphasizes core functions of an employee’s job, rather than every piece of information that their role might require them to know. This reduces the likelihood of overwhelming employees with too much information. It’s also helpful to bundle essential skills into a larger group, like topic or product. Doing so makes it easier for leaders to manage and deliver training—and easier for employees to comprehend. The simpler the sample training plan outline is, the better employee performance will be.

Training Doesn’t Focus on Practice

The goal of training is to empower employees to apply newly gained knowledge and skills. If you look at different training programs for employees, the concept of practice to reinforce learning is nonexistent. The most efficient list of training programs for employees includes ongoing opportunities for employees to practice skills, refresh knowledge, and refine their craft. Identify a few items for employees to regularly revisit and rehearse so training doesn’t go in one ear and out the other. Practice, repetition, and feedback improve employee performance and drive better business results.

Training Isn’t Measured for Performance

A truly successful training program leads to improved individual and team performance. If your company’s organizational training plan template fails to accurately measure training effectiveness, that’s a major issue for everyone. It’s important to identify key objectives, and evaluate training against them. Select both business outcomes (such as demos set, average call time for resolution, etc.) and learning metrics (lessons completed and revisited, quiz scores, employee feedback, etc.) to evaluate employee and learning program success. Detailed insights are essential to determine the return on learning (ROL) and identify the strengths and gaps of the training program.

Training is Boring and Outdated

If an employee training plan is boring and relies on outdated PowerPoints and handouts, it’s time embraced modern training software. Too often, companies resist new technology. However, using software for training makes the experience both effective and engaging. Look for online training programs that are easy to access and simple to complete.

It’s worth noting that there are many types of training programs for employees. The best sample training plan for employees comes from a blend of elearning with in-person training and coaching. This combination keeps information fresh, saves time and resources, and maximizes the impact of team training.

Revamping your training plan is no small task. That’s why we made it simple for you. Lessonly’s interactive Training Plan Template walks you through a series of questions that will transform your employee training plan. Our Learn/Practice/Perform framework provides the tools needed to ensure teams have a modern roadmap to heightened productivity in 2018—and for years to come.

Turn Training Plans into Business Results with Lessonly

Lessonly has worked with hundreds of teams, across a variety of industries, as they develop their employee training plans. Our modern learning software translates important work knowledge from your employee training plan into lessons that accelerate productivity. Take a tour today, and learn how Lessonly could help your team do better work.

3 Ways to Overcome Customer Support Training Challenges

A few weeks ago, our COO Conner Burt joined CallTalk and Bruce Belfiore for a conversation about critical training challenges that hinder excellent customer service. In this discussion, Conner shared the importance of speed, access, and analytics to great call center training and agent success. This summary offers ideas to leverage training for excellent customer service.

Superior customer support starts with superior customer support training. But, what defines a good—or great—customer experience? Many companies focus on metrics like NPS or first call resolution, but as customer needs change and progress, support teams must reconsider their definition of fantastic service.

“A great customer service experience requires the removal of all obstacles so that customers can get the answer they want. It also requires agents to predict the next issue the customer may have—and address it—so the customer doesn’t have to call, chat, or email again.” – Conner Burt

Many customer support leaders recognize that training is pivotal for improving customer service. Unfortunately, training doesn’t receive the attention it deserves from busy customer support leaders. Hiring, turnover, processes, changes, and more require continuous attention from leaders—making it easy for training to get pushed aside. So, how do you overcome this challenge and create the best customer service training for your agents? Start with these three tips:

Provide Easily Accessible Training

Antiquated and ineffective training programs rely exclusively on customer service training classes. These classes involve taking agents off of the floor and stuffing them in a conference room to learn about a process change or new product While training classes might be needed occasionally—they aren’t the most effective learning tool. In-person training is expensive for remote teams, and the information often isn’t accessible after the fact—which hinders team effectiveness and adoption.

“70% of what you learn gets lost within 30 days, regardless of the way you learn it.”

Customer service training exercises should include practical follow-up and easy-access to the material. Modern learning software provides agents the ability to review training material in-between calls or throughout the day. Utilizing learning software also empowers customer service managers to go beyond the classroom and deliver ongoing agent training via the cloud.  

Tip: Creating a customer service training course outline is a daunting task. Save time with our free customer service training manual to provide consistent training to agents.

Drive Continuous Training

Training and onboarding are not one in the same. Training should be part of the onboarding process, but shouldn’t stop there. Support teams need to get new employees up and running as quickly as possible—an important factor in dynamic environments with turnover or quick growth. However, training is most effective when its continuous during the course of an employee’s career.

“Make sure training is ongoing and quick to react to whatever is going on in the support center.”

Most likely, your company and support team are frequently evolving: changing tactics, introducing innovative processes, and providing different services. Teams must be agile and quickly introduce new ideas to ongoing customer service training. Companies also need to ensure that they provide ongoing training in a way that doesn’t overwhelm agents.  

The best customer service training programs provide only the most relevant information that agents need to anticipate customer issues and provide answers.

Tip: Avoid jumping right into a new training program without a strategy. Use a free customer service plan outline to create a process for both initial and continuous training. This will help you identify the skills and knowledge agents need to learn, practice, and perform.

Measure and Improve Training

You can’t improve what you don’t measure—and training is no exception. Training provides valuable insight and data about customer service gaps and need. It’s important to identify customer service course objectives, then measure and evaluate agents throughout the training process.

“Measuring your training efforts will help you build a better program over time.”

In order to make meaningful progress, the most successful customer support teams assess where they are, where they’re going, and track key metrics along the way. While tracking training completion is beneficial, impactful measurement goes beyond that. A more nuanced way to track employee training is to gage program engagement. Look at areas of training that agents continue to revisit and spend the most time on—this will help leaders identify and measure trends of information and gaps in training. By doing so, support leaders are enabled to improve their training programs—and customer support offering.

Tip: Use an online training software that makes it easy to track and measure the ROI of your training efforts against your agents’ learning performance.  

These three customer service training tips are great ways to rededicate attention to your training program. Training that is accessible, continuous, and measurable equips agents with the knowledge and skills they need to provide excellent customer service—time and time again.

Take your customer support training to the next level with Lessonly

Are you ready to overcome your customer support training challenges? Lessonly’s online training software makes it easy for agents to access training when and where they need it. Lessonly is an essential part of customer support training for hundreds of high-performing support teams. When agents have access to the essential information they need to do great work—productivity takes off. Take a tour today, and see how Lessonly drives team learning—and exceptional customer service.

Want to be a Great Sales Coach? Here’s a Sales Enablement Playbook

Behind every winning team is a great coach. The same is true for winning sales teams. When a sales leader invests deeply in the development of their team, their reps deliver amazing results.

This revelation caused TJ Waldorf, Vice President of Inside Sales and Marketing at SingleHop, to redesign his role as a sales leader, “Anyone in a management role within a sales team should act as a coach,” he said. “This individual should pay close attention to the mechanics of the game, and in this case, the game is selling.”

With the state of play in sales changing at a rapid pace, reps need continuous coaching for long-term growth and high performance. The goal of sales enablement is to give sales reps better access to the information they need to convert leads into prospects and prospects into winning sales. A good coach utilizes a playbook of strategies to help sales reps become—and remain—a valuable player. TJ, like many other leaders, acknowledges that effective sales coaching is an essential component of a sales enablement plan. Here are four tactics that every Hall of Fame sales coach should put in their playbook.

Start with Sales Training Camp

It’s pretty clear when a team hasn’t trained for a game. Sales enablement training equips sales teams with top-notch sales skills, product knowledge, and business acumen. As a coach, it’s important to identify productive training sessions that will benefit your team.

TJ and the SingleHop team hold training sessions and workshops focused on their product, selling process, and tactics. “We discuss real-life scenarios versus theoretical or higher-level strategy conversations,” he said. By using specific scenarios that the sales team has encountered, a coach can provide tangible actions and steps to overcome the hurdle. For example, if a customer says they don’t have time to talk, the coach might help the rep streamline the process for the prospect.

In an effort to maximize sales performance and drive productivity, training should be a recurring strategy in your playbook. Businesses tend to focus on training when a sales rep first joins the team. While this is important, it’s also ineffective. Ongoing training gives sales coaches the opportunity to share important details on new products and services with reps—and provide feedback in real-time. This provides players with actionable steps toward continuous improvement.

The Will to Prepare is Vital

Unfortunately, endless amounts of practice won’t make a sales team perfect. But it can make everyone prepared. Avid preparation is a common thread between a sports team and a sales team. As a sales enablement best practice, coaches should stress the importance of preparation for every interaction that a sales rep has with a prospective buyer.

TJ recognizes that this is a big challenge for many sales reps, “A prevalent issue among sales reps is the lack of preparation. From knowing what questions to ask a buyer to identifying the information that needs to be uncovered during a call—it’s all about making sure they are prepared to show how our team, product, or service adds value to the customer.”

A great coach also provides sales enablement content to promote preparation. Consider empowering your sales team with helpful tools that offer competitive research and analysis, case studies, and other collateral. This content is helpful during conversations with prospects and existing customers alike.

There’s no I in Team

Sales is a team sport. Unfortunately, many sales reps tend to operate as lone wolves. The best sales teams work together towards a common goal—winning in the market— and they look to the coach for expertise. Just like in sports—a great sales coach identifies strengths and weaknesses among sales reps, helps them improve their skills, and pairs them with other teammates to learn and grow from. By working together, reps are more likely to make the right move in a sales call.

“I compare a sales representative to a quarterback,” stated TJ. “They need to know when to make the right call, when to bring in reinforcements, and how to align with the entire team on the buyer’s side.”

As with any team, it’s important to have players with diverse skill sets. This fosters an environment of teaching and learning for the entire sales team. The unique talents, perspectives, and experiences of each rep or sales leader are essential components for a winning team.

Review Game Tapes

A team doesn’t keep winning by doing the same thing over and over—other teams would simply mimic their playbook and hope for the same outcome. As clients, competitors, and services change, a sales coach—and the entire sales team— must modify their sales enablement strategy accordingly.

“Sales teams should constantly be looking for new skills that would be beneficial to learn,” TJ shared. “It shouldn’t be just the sales manager that brings new ideas and resources to the team.”

One technique for continuous improvement is to review sales calls—both those that resulted in wins—and losses. By reviewing calls that went well, players gain first-hand knowledge of best practices. Reviewing ineffective calls as a team provides examples of tactics to avoid and keeps reps motivated to improve in the future. This is just one sales enablement example that will help sales reps become team players—and close more deals.

While all these tactics are worth adding to your sales enablement playbook, it’s important to remember that sales coaching isn’t about one championship game. Instead, the best sales leaders create a sales enablement culture that breeds a winning team, season after season.

Add Lessonly to Your Sales Team’s Playbook

Winning sales teams use Lessonly to tackle new rep onboarding, increase sales productivity, and enable their reps. Our online training software provides all of the tools needed to empower your sales team. Take the next step with a self-guided tour today.

The Importance of Training: It’s More than Information Transfer, it’s About People

In the world of modern business, the importance of training in the workplace is a foregone conclusion—it’s a big deal. A great training program drives higher employee engagement, increases productivity, decreases turnover, and saves time for employees and managers alike. However for many companies, training remains limited to transferring information from a trainer to a new hire. New employees shuffle through endless lectures, binders, Google docs, and Powerpoints to find the information they need to do their job. In fact—that’s why we build Lessonly—to radically improve team learning.

But training is about far more than information transfer. Gallup notes that only 33% of employees feel engaged at work—and transferring information to a disengaged team member is a waste of organizational time and energy. In reality, the primary benefits of training and development in an organization are found when the personal development of employees is championed as much as organizational objectives. Here are four ways to build a people-first culture of training:

Sell the Mission

Many businesses provide products or services that solve an everyday problem (i.e these shoes offer better support, this software improves team communication, etc.). Helping trainees understand the product is important—but painting a bigger picture of the mission of the company is even more imperative to long-term employee morale and engagement.

Chris Mills, VP of Talent Attraction and Team Member Relations at DEFENDERS, knows that introducing employees to a larger mission is essential. DEFENDERS helps families find high-quality home security and automation options. But that’s not the purpose they offer their employees—the mission revolves around one primary aim: “We are called to grow & inspire leaders who love & serve people.”

Chris notes, “It’s not just about being successful in your job, it’s about being successful as a person. Businesses don’t grow, people do. And we believe if we can help you be the best you, you’re going to be great for DEFENDERS. But more importantly you’re going to be great at home.”

On the long list of objectives of training and development, ensure that employees feel a sense of purpose and meaning in their work—their productivity will skyrocket.

What larger purpose are you offering your employees?

Build the Culture

While most training focuses on tangible behaviors, one of the many reasons for training is to help employees understand the organizational culture of a business. In the immortal words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” When an employee understands the priorities and norms of the company, their ability to contribute increases exponentially, and they make the company better—both inside and out.

DEFENDERS takes culture seriously when training employees, “Everybody starts their very first day in Culture Day. It’s a full day of explaining who we are and what our culture is. We talk about three core values—we’re humble servants, competitive winners, and growth-oriented learners.” For DEFENDERS, these values are at the heart of training. The three tenets of culture serve as the backbone of the business; they define a DEFENDERS team member. That’s why every minute spent on culture during training pays enormous dividends in employee engagement and retention.

What kind of culture does your company champion?

Invest the Time

Every manager wants to increase the productivity of their team. Oftentimes, training feels like a drain on an employee’s time and workflow. But quality training is worth the investment of energy, money, and time.

At DEFENDERS, Chris believes that the personal growth of every employee is worth championing. “We have Culture Experience Groups (CEGs) based on small group learning. Employees gather in groups of ten people, go through a book, and discuss the different lessons in it.” But allowing employees time for discussion and growth doesn’t stop with CEGs, Chris says, “We also have an annual national convention where employees pull together, one day out of the year, to focus on themselves, not just their job.” The DEFENDERS leadership team builds the agenda for the day after asking attendees what they want to hear and learn.

The goal of these investments? Chris says that DEFENDERS encourages employees to “work harder on yourself than you do in your job.” This relentless focus on self-improvement in training results in employees that are constantly improving, both personally and professionally.

How are you investing in your team to help them grow?

Cross the Divide

Silos are the enemy of a great team. Unfortunately, as a company grows, silos increasingly spring up. Don’t let divisions between business units or departments cause your team to forget the paramount importance of training employees. In onboarding, this division usually happens between Human Resources departments responsible for training new hires, and the front-line business units where they work.

How should a company avoid a disparity between HR and business units? Make training and culture a top priority for business leaders.

“So many companies rely on their HR team to drive culture, and it never happens. Cultural excellence is not made in my HR group—it’s made up of a group of leaders across the business,” Chris notes. DEFENDERS encourages managers across the business to own the responsibility for employee engagement, not relegate it to HR. And it has worked remarkably well. “We have incredible engagement scores, and I believe that’s because over the past few years, we have transitioned ownership of those scores out of the HR team, and to the business leaders.”

When front-line leaders are empowered—and expected—to train, develop, and care for their teams, magic happens. Don’t let HR bear the brunt of onboarding and retention. Every leader and employee in the business should feel the weight of building a business that employees love to work at.

Does your entire organization feel responsible for employee engagement and training?

The benefits of training and development in the workplace far outweigh the investment of time and money in a new employee—if that training is designed with intention and care. Many businesses fail to address mission and culture while investing in their teams and leave training to HR. The true benefits of training programs, as revealed by Chris and DEFENDERS, are found when deep investment in people takes priority over information transfer. Building this sort of training system takes work—but it’s worth the investment.

Modern teams thrive with Lessonly

The training needs of each sales and support team is unique. The best salespeople hone their craft with feedback, input, and enablement. Meanwhile support teams need fast onboarding that helps them deliver amazing customer service. No matter the job function, employees deserve a training tool that is purpose-built to help them do their best work. That’s why we built Lessonly. Take a tour today.

Rethinking the Call Center: 5 Characteristics of an Effective Training Program

Training call center employees is a challenge. It’s difficult to find enough time, so quality is compromised in order to train faster. Or, training is viewed as a hassle and stressor by agents. As a result, organizations often fail to develop agents capable of delivering productive, customer-centric experiences.

Mistakes to Avoid

According to Customer Contact Week, 85% of businesses surveyed plan to make investments to their call center training programs in the next year. But their efforts—and money—will be wasted if they continue to make these common call center agent training mistakes.

They Choose Compliance over Practicality

Basic call center training is often based on static information rather than dynamic capabilities. This static training only provides a single solution for a variety of customer needs instead of adapting to each call. Furthermore, training is often managed by HR leaders, rather than experienced reps that talk to customers every day. Therefore, agents often only learn basic knowledge, procedures, and scripts—they aren’t empowered to apply training in an efficient, customer-centric manner.

They Ignore the Moment of Truth

At some point, even with the most comprehensive training, an agent won’t know the answer to a customer’s question. Many call center agent training programs fail to account for this eventuality and don’t train their reps appropriately. These interactions lead to upset customers, and negatively impact the agent’s overall morale and productivity.

They Fail to Adapt

Change is the only constant theme of the customer experience industry. Customers will always demand different things through different channels. Certain call center training best practices that don’t focus on these needs will then prove ineffective, and new ones will emerge. Additionally, most call centers focus on core, dated knowledge and ignore emerging technology. Others want to adapt but lack a means to retrain agents. Either way, training falls behind and doesn’t adapt with the times.

They Lack a Two-Way Process

Many contact centers “give” training lessons to new agents: It isn’t a collaborative process. When agents can’t tailor training to their own strengths and learning styles, training is less effective. Training also become less valuable; since agents are the ones speaking to customers. This lack of customization and collaboration causes a disconnect between training and the learner.

They Don’t Focus on Performance

The goal of training is to produce well-equipped and knowledgeable agents who positively impact efficiency and customer satisfaction metrics. Many training programs—and platforms—ignore this goal, and simply offer a call center training guide to help agents pass a test. By focusing on learning alone rather than methods to improve performance, organizations lack insight on the connection between training and key performance indicators.

Effective Training Ideas

The good news is that these mistakes are avoidable. Organizations dramatically elevate agent training when they use innovative technologies and real-world best practices. Avoid the typical training pitfalls experienced by contact centers with these five call center training ideas.

Improve Training with Engaging Learning

Agents spend their days working diligently to address difficult customer issues. raining shouldn’t feel like more work. An ideal training platform allows leaders to create lessons that are engaging for learners. Make training more interesting with images, audio, and video. By offering a more engaging learning experience doing so, agents will see training as a convenient and interactive way to improve their skills, rather than an obligatory assignment.

Improve Training to Support On-Demand Moments

Building a great training program is not a one-and-done process—the best call centers support agents through every interaction. To reduce the likelihood of an agent telling a customer they don’t know the answer, use a training platform that empowers agents to quickly find essential information. This allows reps to resolve the issue—and win the customer’s satisfaction.

Improve Training with Simple Course Development

Every aspect of training should be simple. In particular, creating a training program should be quick and streamlined, with easy-to-develop lessons, courses, and assignments. Start by creating your program. As your team engages with more customers, edit the training to reflect best practices and better meet customer needs. A dynamic knowledge base is important to adaptable training practices and productive, customer-centric agents.

Improve Training to Gain Performance Insight

Agents don’t learn at the same rate, but they often feel similar pressure to perform. A great learning program takes this into account, providing leaders with insights to how each agent learns. This awareness reveals gaps in the learning process and identifies which agents may need one-on-one coaching to become more productive. More importantly, leaders will see a correlation between learning and overall agent performance.

Improve Training with Full integration

Contact center leaders identify call center training technology integration as the best way to drive agent productivity. Great training is supposed to make work easier for agents and shouldn’t be hard to obtain. The best way to achieve this is by linking your training platform with other software used by agents. Integrated workflows provide a seamless and guided experience for improved agent engagement and learning.

These call center training tips yield faster, more productive agents who provide consistent support and customer satisfaction. When training is simple, relevant, and collaborative, it fosters development and customer centricity to produce happy agents and loyal customers—a winning combination for every business

Effectively Train your Call Center Agents with Lessonly  

Lessonly creates the ideal bridge between your company’s training program and a customer-centric experience. Our employee training software is modern, easy to use, and purpose-built for your support team to gain the knowledge they need to provide excellent customer support. Could we help you? Take a tour today.

Rethinking the Call Center: Customer-First Training

Customer-centric call centers strive to deliver a phenomenal customer experience. The secret to doing so? Call center training that develops and empowers agents to deliver that great experience.

The first step in creating a great call center training program is to understand exactly what customers want. In a survey performed by Customer Contact Week, customers want three things from their call center experience:  

Speed – Efficiency isn’t only important for business operations. Customers also demand efficient experiences. The saying “time is money,” has never been truer as customers expect information or resolution as quickly as possible.

First Contact Resolution – If customers object to spending a few extra minutes on the phone, they definitely don’t want to call back. Regardless of the time spent with an agent, channel, or inquiry type, they expect to receive a valuable and accurate resolution on the first try.

Knowledgeable and Friendly Agents – Customers have no interest in interacting with a person who reads straight from a script. Customers expect—and hope for—agents who are engaging experts, capable of delivering accurate information in a friendly manner.

In today’s age of customer-centricity, companies that apply and reevaluate call center training best practices deliver the best customer experiences and succeed. Here are a few call center training tips to help your team elevate customer interactions and loyalty.

Fast Interactions

In order to reduce the average speed per interaction, agents must have the skills to efficiently and effectively meet customers’ needs. It’s important to note that these two qualities are contingent on one another—it isn’t beneficial to have a quick interaction that doesn’t help the customer. Quick and correct interactions reduce handle time and free up agents to field more calls and help more customers.

Many call centers track the number of interactions they receive each day and the average resolution time each one requires. This is an important piece of information to share during training so agents understand the day-to-day interaction volume. Provide call-handling best practices and helpful tools to empower agents in the moment of need. This will help them hit the ground running—and reduce the average length of an interaction.

Correct Responses

According to Help Scout, call center agents fail to answer a customer’s question or solve a problem 50% of the time.

The first contact resolution metric serves as both an indicator for customer experience and operational performance. The best way to increase FCR is to train well—agents must be equipped to handle the diverse needs of their callers. This includes proficiency with software, products, services, and procedures.

A quality call center training manual organizes the valuable skills that agents need. A detailed customer service manual ensures each worker learns the same concepts, practices, and policies so customers receive consistent support. It also streamlines training call center employees —ensuring that trainers have communicated all essential information to agents. Additionally, it serves as helpful material that agents can revisit and review—providing access to answers when questions arise.

Meaningful Connections

Basic call center training should prepare employees for the new customer service normal: where agents deliver more personalized interactions. Avoid training agents to solve common problems with common solutions or call center training conversation scripts. Instead—empower agents to relationally connect with unique customers with unpredictable issues. This means training on ideas including emotional intelligence, active listening, and problem-solving to prepare agents for deeper, more nuanced interactions.

Agents are the frontline of your company, so your call center training guide should also include lessons on appropriate etiquette and friendly presentation of the organization. Help Scout reports that 78% of customers describe a happy customer experience as one with an agent who is both competent and friendly. Consider providing examples of interactions that received exceptional customer service during training. This helps new agents understand how to maintain a positive demeanor and guarantee a great interaction.

These call center training ideas are a great base for an organization build on. By improving your company’s call center training methods over time to remain customer-focused, your organization will see happy customers abound.

Give your Customers What they Want with Lessonly’s Contact Center Training

Lessonly helps customer support teams learn, practice, and perform. Our newest feature, Paths, helps managers map out an employee’s entire learning journey. This means that new agents get up to speed faster, learn more effectively, and provide excellent customer service—quicker than ever. Learn more about our team training software, or take a tour today.

Yellowship 2018

In Pursuit of Truly Great

Registration for Yellowship, Lessonly’s first annual user conference, opens today. In honor of that, I’m taking a break from my regular note to share our thoughts on what it means to hold a great conference:

  1. Great conferences are set in inspiring spaces.
  2. Great conferences feature speakers who respect the audience’s circumstances; they offer ideas that are both important *and* practical.
  3. Great conferences bring people together who want to learn new things, meet new people, and see new places. Attendees leave feeling more energized than when they arrived.

By the same token, these three ideas don’t just apply to conferences. Creating space for inspiration, talking about things that matter, and cultivating connection are worthwhile pursuits for any leader looking to build a truly great team.

Yellowship is going to be a great conference, and we’d love for you to be a part of it. Speakers are rolling in, and we’ll keep adding them over the coming months. Learn more here.

Cannot wait to see you in Indy. We promise to make it worth your while.

—Max