A 2015 study by the Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies revealed that the average turnover at call centers globally is 35-50%. For customer support leaders seeking a call center productivity formula, this astonishing statistic reinforces the importance of training and employee development. An effective and engaging training program is the first, most essential step in the quest for improved call center agent productivity.
However, designing an effective training program is not as easy as we’d like. The same EJBO study found that call center trainees gave their training programs a score of 96% effectiveness, on average. However, when tested on their training, trainees scored only 86%. Taken one step further—when reviewed by their managers after a month on the job—trainees received scores of only 77%.
So how does a call center leader begin to address this gap between training and performance? The study measured call center performance through four primary metrics: quality, productivity, quiz, and attendance. While not definitive, these metrics can serve as guideposts for how to improve call center performance through training.
The study evaluated 20 calls with each call center rep, split into two categories.
Half of each rep’s interactions were evaluated based on predetermined parameters, and each rep’s other ten interactions received follow-up calls from Quality Assurance to ask for feedback about the rep. The resulting quality measure was responsible for the more than half of each rep’s performance review score.
Training Tip: Want to figure out how to improve call center quality? Onboarding and initial training are useful, but performance and recall degrade over time. When designing your team’s training plan, ensure that ongoing practice is part of your cadence. Use an online training software—like Lessonly—to empower reps to practice their skills on a regular basis and give managers an easy way to review calls and offer feedback. This approach helps your team keep their skills sharp and rapidly improve—before real customers are on the line.
After quality, productivity was the second-most highly valued metric used in measuring rep performance. Productivity metrics evaluate reps’ efficiency through specific data points including mean time to resolution, time management, and calls per shift—all captured automatically online. Productivity is essential for success as a call center rep.
Training Tip: Sustained, superior call center productivity is elusive, even for the most experienced manager. Downtime is a common issue with reps, particularly during non-peak seasons. Consider offering reps opportunities to complete training exercises at their desks during downtime. Our friends at Smart Rhino installed an extra monitor at the station of every call center rep to ensure their employees had constant access to essential product information and training materials. Now, when they aren’t on the phone, those reps are continuously learning and brushing up their skills and knowledge. This means that every minute of the team’s time pays dividends toward higher customer satisfaction and better productivity.
With numerous product SKUs and/or support solutions to remember, high knowledge retention is an expectation for the modern call center rep. The EJBO study measured rep knowledge across a variety of topics and product lines with regular, 10-question quizzes every month.
Training Tip: We believe that giving modern workers easy access to critical information is infinitely more powerful than expecting them to master it. Requiring reps to know everything about everything is a recipe for burnout, dissatisfaction, and employee churn. Rather than rote memorization, give reps access to the information they need, at their fingertips, at any given time—and their ability to answer customer questions will improve significantly. The result? Faster response times, greater confidence, and higher customer satisfaction.
Unfortunately, work attendance is a significant problem for call centers. With carefully planned staffing based on expected call volume, every rep counts. For the leader wondering how to improve a call center environment, solidifying attendance is an essential step towards healthy operations and boosted morale
Training Tip: Every employee, including every call center rep, deserves to know what great work looks like. Today’s employees also increasingly crave personal development in their jobs. Better learning experiences create more engaged employees and, according to research by Temkin Group, more engaged employees perform better than their less-engaged peers. In companies with significantly better financial performance than their peers, 77% of employees are highly or moderately engaged, compared with only 49% of employees in companies with lagging financial performance. When a training program sets clear expectations and provides the opportunity for each employee to improve—employee engagement skyrockets—and so does attendance.
Developing effective/impactful call center improvement strategies is no easy job. From onboarding and training to performance reviews and performance improvement plans, it takes creativity, energy, and thoughtfulness to design systems that improve quality, productivity, quiz scores, and attendance. Across the entire U.S. workforce, Gallup found that just 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. In the high-turnover call center environment, it’s important to radically surpass this number.
We hope that these tips help you engage employees, provide greater customer service, and drive higher call center efficiency metrics.
Want to revolutionize your call center training?
Lessonly is purpose-built to help call center reps learn, practice, and perform at the highest levels. Our online training software is used by hundreds of support teams to power training that results in quicker response times, more tickets closed, and higher CSAT scores. Take a tour today, and learn how Lessonly can help your team do better work.