9 steps to train call center agents

The call logging method is, in my opinion, one of the best approaches to assess agent phone calls and ensure quality. Here is a 9-step plan to effectively train call center agent phone calls:

1. Randomly record 2 -3 phone calls. Random recording is important. Do not record 3 calls in a row or on the same day, as your employee may be having a bad day and this may be reflected in all calls in one afternoon, but does not necessarily reflect their typical performance.

2. Review calls and note strengths and opportunities. Before you meet with your employee, listen to the calls and see what they did well and identify 1-2 opportunities to improve performance.

3. Put on a tape and let your employee listen. During tape playback, you do not need to answer.

4. Have your employee respond to the tape. After playing the tape, ask your employee to respond. Most employees will be too self-critical. Your employee will likely notice many opportunities for improvement and will struggle to articulate what he has done well.

5. Train the call. Use the “sandwich” approach. Tell your employee what he did well, followed by constructive feedback, and then end with positive feedback. When offering constructive feedback, please share only an opportunity for improvement. It is likely that the employee has observed and declared several opportunities for improvement, so it is not necessary to mention them again. Try to mention one thing the employee didn’t mention and offer it as constructive feedback.

6. Gain commitment to improve performance. Ask the employee, “What specific steps will you take in the next 5 days to improve in this area?” Write down what the employee says and repeat it back. Summarize the session by reiterating strengths and offering a vote of confidence that you can improve in the identified area.

7. Repeat steps 2 through 6 with a second and perhaps a third tape if necessary. The point of many recordings is that an employee may respond defensively by claiming it was just a “bad” call. If that is the answer, he may choose to review a second or third tape.

8. Follow-up before the next agent coaching session. Check in with your employee between training sessions to keep the commitment in mind. You can contact your employee by email or a personal conversation.

9. Discuss the improvement at the next training session. Before you listen to the calls at the next training session, ask your employee how he or she is progressing toward the goal from the last session. Look for improvements to the calls reviewed in this session.

This 9-step call center agent coaching model is simple, clear, and praises employees and offers support for improvement opportunities.

When you follow this 9-step process, you’ll set clear performance expectations, train effectively and consistently, while motivating your employees.

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