Recent advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have enabled contact centers to respond to customer inquiries quickly. The same can be said for training processes. New, immersive learning technologies allow agents to self-train virtually when and where it’s most convenient. However, technology alone can fall short, leaving agents feeling isolated and disconnected.
As training leaders, we understand the toughest customer problems fall to agents to resolve with accurate and timely information, empathy and efficiency. As challenging as these situations may be, and with powerful tools to help navigate these sensitive interactions confidently, human connections remain the cornerstone of excellent customer service.
As we embrace technology and human elements to develop top-performing and confident agents, it’s clear that training managers must strike the perfect balance between these two components. With the right approach, contact centers maximize employee engagement, allowing people to master new skills while delivering the “human touch” customers want and demand.
3 Steps to Leverage Technology and Personal Interactions
How can you help your agents feel cared for, connected, and inspired to master the growing complexity and ever-changing demands of a high-performing contact center? Here are three steps to get the most from new technologies and personal interactions:
STEP 1: Utilize Virtual Training. Many new virtual training approaches help agents practice customer interactions in a safe setting. Here are some of the leading virtual training approaches at your disposal:
- Immersive learning: Use virtual and/or augmented reality (VR/AR) to simulate customer interaction scenarios for contact center agents to work through.
- Simulation training: Allow contact center agents to practice customer interactions in a controlled, safe setting without the risk of negative impact on customers while exposing agents to real-life scenarios.
- Microlearning: Provide short bursts of contextual and easily consumable information for agents to learn specific skills or knowledge quickly and effectively.
- Gamification: Reward agents for completing training modules or practicing skills with points, badges, and other rewards, increasing engagement and motivation.
Virtual training approaches continue to gain momentum as they allow agents to become familiar with customer scenarios without exposure to real customers before they are ready. They are convenient and effective, and agents appreciate the opportunity to learn and improve in a stress-free environment and at their own pace.
STEP 2: Integrate Human Feedback. Training managers should include human feedback in any technology-based training strategy. Agents should receive personal feedback to build trust and understanding. Artificial intelligence can help guide the instructional process but should never replace actual human interaction. Here are a few ways training managers can include human feedback in technology-based training strategies.
- Role-play exercises: Provide agents personalized practice time while allowing human observers to provide feedback in a controlled and safe setting.
- One-on-one feedback sessions: Schedule one-on-one feedback sessions with agents to discuss performance, provide guidance, and build rapport.
- Peer review sessions: Allow agents to hear and learn through feedback from co-workers in a supportive environment.
- Video-based evaluations: Live or recorded video sessions can provide valuable feedback opportunities via recordings that training managers can use to evaluate agents’ customer interaction skills.
- Coaching: One-on-one coaching provides targeted feedback and real-time training to help agents become top performers and improve their skills by directly addressing pain points in customer interactions.
STEP 3: Encourage Collaborative Learning. Agents benefit greatly when learning from peers in addition to instructional modules and simulations. Training managers can help agents improve and feel personally connected in an increasingly technology-driven business world. Agents like to share ideas and best practices, which can improve results, reduce turnover, and boost job satisfaction. Here are some ways to use collaborative learning to help contact center agents feel more connected:
- Group learning sessions: Provide group learning sessions and invite agents to share their ideas and best practices with their colleagues.
- Mentorship programs: Introduce mentorship programs where experienced agents can mentor new hires to improve their skills and become more effective.
- Cross-departmental training: Promote collaborative learning across departments and teams, allowing agents to learn new skills from different business areas.
- Group projects: Assign group projects to agents, requiring them to work together to complete goals. This will help foster better teamwork and communication, inevitably leading to better results.
By blending technology and the human element, contact centers can create a comprehensive training program that engages agents while facilitating skill development. Empowered with training tools and guidance from managers, agents can take ownership of their learning journey, propelling them to success and satisfaction.
Equipping your team with the skills needed to handle customer inquiries—both digital and personal—provides them with the skills to excel and provide exceptional customer service. It’s clear that balancing technology with human engagement should be at the forefront of any contact center’s goal. You will see improved customer experience and high performance with increased employee engagement.