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Agent Training Mistakes to Avoid

Training contact center employees can be a challenge. It’s difficult to find the time and a constant pressure to train faster can compromise quality. It’s logistically difficult to pull agents for training while maintaining coverage. This leaves little room for error when you do get a chance to train. ICMI recently wrote an article on the three common mistakes that contact center trainers make. These errors slow training down, make it less effective, and can even cause training to fail completely. On the other hand, avoiding these mistakes can help your agent training programs deliver amazing results. A summary of that article is below:

Mistake #1: No Analysis

The first step for any training program should be to analyze the situation to identify your agents’ specific training needs. Let’s say you wanted to put together a training program on handling upset customers. What would you do? Would you Google “how to handle angry customers”? Or look for a training video or related PowerPoint?

None of those steps would be a good idea without first analyzing the situation to identify the real problem you are trying to solve. For a course on handling angry customers you might ask these key questions:

• What makes customers angry?
• What are agents doing now?
• What specifically do agents need to do better?

Without the answers to those questions, your agent training program will be generic and ineffective. On the other hand, answering these questions can help you focus the training on helping your agents serve their customers better.

Mistake #2: No Goal

We measure everything else in the contact center, so why not training? Agent training can fail if we don’t clearly define our intended outcomes and measure our success. We need to be able to definitively answer the question, “How do we know if someone is trained?”

Unfortunately, many contact center training programs are evaluated with some pretty squishy statements such as, “they seem to being doing well” or “they aren’t asking too many questions”.

None of those statements give any real indication of whether a person has been fully trained.

A better approach is to create a clear, measurable goal that’s based on agent performance. For example, you might use this goal for training agents to respond to emails:

Customer service representatives will craft responses to five simulated emails with 100% adherence to email quality guidelines.

Mistake #3: Training for Knowledge

A lot of training programs focus on filling participants brains with information. Unfortunately, this is a slow and ineffective way to train. It takes a lot of time and effort to acquire new knowledge. And, contact center information can change rapidly which requires us to start the process all over again. A faster and more effective way to train is to focus on performance.

There are many tools in the contact center that can help your agents focus on performance instead of memorizing information. These include knowledge bases, screen pops, job aids, and customer-facing websites.


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