In an ideal world, there would be no trade-offs for companies who want to provide exceptional customer experience. However, we live in a world where time is the most valuable currency. The greatest support teams are the ones that are the most productive in providing customer needs in the finite amount of time they are given.
Justin Robbins is the Director of Content at ICMI, providing insights and information to contact centers around the world. His time as a customer service manager for Hershey gave him a firsthand account of what it looks like for a company to provide a great customer experience, while planning effectively for the challenges of seasonal support. The common thread that holds these two efforts together? Productivity.
Planning for time and cost
Justin spent five years working for Hershey, planning and managing various customer support teams, “Actually, Hershey had multiple seasonal rushes that we had to prepare for. Our business was really built around seasonality.” This often meant doubling, if not tripling, the number of customer support agents in a matter of months.
Bringing that many new hires is not easy for any type of company. What sets good companies apart from great companies is having a training plan to transition those new hires into functional team members,
I think the missing link for a lot of organizations is the type of proficiency they want, and how much extra time you need to plan to get your employees to that point.
Justin remembers beginning to hire 5 to 6 months ahead of peak season so he could hit the amount of customer agents needed. The problem was what to do with them in the meantime, “I needed to find a way to be training them and getting them on my payroll as soon as possible.” That’s almost two quarters of payroll dedicated to employees that aren’t expected to return investment, but Justin agrees that it’s “mission-critical” for companies to think like this. In order to bring seasonal employees up-to-speed, where they can fully handle a customer contact with good satisfaction levels, there needs to be a lot of quality, spaced out, and reinforced training.
“You want to make sure that you have refresher training,” Justin says, referring to training efforts that address previously covered topics. This helps support teams to nail down the small issues, but it takes time in between the first learning and the refresher. In his time advising with ICMI, Justin has seen seasonal hires receive initial training, but by the time they start answering phones during the peak season, they might not necessarily recall their call center sales training, “You can’t just assume they remember how to do it.”
Planning for customer experience
So what makes the time and investment in these seasonal employees worth it? Maintaining customer experience during the busy season. Selling these “warm and fuzzies” of customer satisfaction to your company’s CFO can be hard—unless you’re tying it to a dollar amount. But in some cases, the risk of not training can be a better point for a training investment:
Maybe you’re launching a new product soon that you’ve never launched before. You don’t know if it’s going to be wildly popular, go viral, and inundate you with calls. What are you going to do if you don’t have the ability to understand and handle those situations?
Especially in the holiday season, customer experience is essential for many consumers. This could be the first time that many of your contacts have ever interacted with your brand. Given that one shot, customer support leaders need to make sure that it’s the best service that they can possibly provide. That means training and equipping support teams with the knowledge to make that one contact an exceptional experience.
The key, Justin says, is to invest in a training solution that eases the fears of the CFO by not only being able to show a return on the investment in training, but increase rep productivity in the long run. “One of the things that is sucking time, energy, and engagement from agents is not having the right tools to help an agent effectively serve the customer,” Justin says. “The right tool can really help by giving agents a good platform to not only pool their native knowledge and access what’s happening in the changing customer landscape.”
A software solution like Lessonly excels in both. Team leaders and managers can help to track the improvement of employee performance on certain key performance indicators through quiz and Lesson scores overtime. And the easy access to information right when a rep needs it allows teams to be more productive in the long-run. An investment in the right training software solution can help teams plan for the cost and time it takes to train a world-class support team, while improving customer satisfaction overall.
Productive customer support teams use Lessonly
Innovative customer support teams around the world use Lessonly’s team learning software to prepare their teams ahead of time and enable more productive agents. Take the first step toward empowering your customer support team with a self-guided, five-step tour of Lessonly. Sign up today.