4 Elements of an Effective Live Chat Agent Training Course
Implementing a live chat initiative can prove to provide big dividends, if done well. Developing and maintaining high agent proficiency levels will determine if the strategy pays off. This requires a well-thought-out training program that encompasses four elements.
Know Your Goals
The best way to deliver an effective training course is to know your goals before you begin. Why did your company choose to add live chat to its customer service strategy? Most companies will give an easy answer, such as improving customer service scores or increasing revenue. But with artificial intelligence (AI) ready at hand, honing in on specific goals is greatly rewarded.
If you already have a chat strategy in place, identifying your goals is a piece of cake. Powerful data analytics let you analyze existing chat data to identify strengths and weaknesses of your team. Maybe your company has a big ramp-up in hiring during the fourth quarter, and customer service scores tend to buckle under increased demand. In that case, your goal could be to maintain customer service scores under pressure—meaning agents need to answer more tickets in less time while delivering effective solutions. To reach this goal, your training should utilize insights from your chat data to identify the most frequent customer concerns and the most effective responses, and coach agents to use these responses in each situation.
If you’re new to live chat, your preliminary goals will be based on existing customer service and sales data. Let’s say you signed up for live chat to improve customer service while cutting costs. By taking a close look at where your current customer service strategy succeeds, you can set benchmarks for your live chat representatives and communicate future goals on a periodic basis. Understanding your company narrative—i.e., where you’ve been and where you’re going—helps keep customer service agents motivated through training and beyond.
A Custom Training Plan
Not all chat agent training courses are equal. The live chat implementation that’s specific to your brand will inform your course of action. If you’re a brand conscious e-commerce company with an in-house customer service team, your best bet is to use an in-house facilitator who knows the ins and outs of your products and brand voice. A brand ambassador who works closely with your live chat team leader can make periodic visits, as well as contribute to the initial training.
If you’re using a contact center or BPO offshore, you’ll be rewarded for forming smaller teams within the larger operation. By using a combination of classroom-style instruction and small group sessions led by star performers, you’ll improve employee retention by developing cooperation among the team. And after training is over, you can transform these groups into sales teams, letting star employees act as leaders for their respective groups.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you’re implementing chat for the first time, you’ll need to cast a wide net. Focus on diversifying your training strategy for veteran customer service agents, as well as live chat rookies, and give your agents specific goals. Being transparent about what your company hopes to accomplish through customer service not only motivates agents, it provides the opportunity for accomplishment.
The perfect training repertoire is like a boomerang. If you throw it, it guarantees returns. You training facilitator should be equipped with an educational strategy that’s engaging, studious, and applied. Beginning each lesson with an audiovisual example pulled from your company’s pain points, or role-playing a frequent customer service scenario will ensure you have the attention of the room from the beginning of the exercise. Following up with fact-based recommendations will give agents a sense of standard protocol. And wrapping up each lesson with an activity helps customer service reps retain the information the facilitator delivers.
Choosing Your Tools
The best part of living in an artificially intelligent world is making smarter decisions. Your customer service team doesn’t have to remember the exact content of your training to perform well. Being equipped with live chat tools that help measure performance and provide real-time insights means chat agents have more time to convey emotion and empathy. If you’re combining AI and live chat, your agent training should be a balance of learning to use tools and coaching behavior. Give your agents the opportunity to work in the software environment they’ll use on the job. Once they’re comfortable with the tech, they’ll be free to communicate with customers on an individual basis, and you can coach them on the interpersonal behaviors that are crucial to successful chat conversations.
Tony Medrano and Megan Vizzini are the CEO and vice president of Customer Success for RapportBoost.AI, a provider of a suite of live chat agent training solutions that use advanced machine learning and deep conversational analysis to organizations guide their human customer success and chat sales teams to build stronger connections with customers. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.