contact center agent training

Does Training Really Matter? Focus on Training and You Can Help Solve the Problem of High Turnover Rates in Your Contact Center

When people think of contact center jobs, they think of those infamous scripts, angry customers, inconvenient hours, stress, and an entry-level job that fills a need. Unfortunately, this reputation is grounded in truth –– contact center jobs are stressful for a myriad of reasons.

It’s the job people often endure until they find something better. On average, annual agent turnover in a contact center is between 30-45 percent. Companies spend thousands of dollars every year filling those empty seats, perpetuating a system that says there’s no reason to invest in these temporary employees. It feels like an unavoidable problem, right?

This doesn’t have to be true.

Start with training.

The discouragement agents feel in their jobs often starts with feeling like they don’t have the tools they need for success and growth. Engaging and empowering your call center agents starts with better training.

ICMI published a study on contact center retention, finding that it’s not the low salary or stress that cause agents to quit. In fact, 50.8 percent of agents leave because of a lack of training and advancement opportunities. About 61 percent of contact centers in the ICMI survey reported that their agents only get 0 to 50 hours of ongoing training each year. And, the majority of that training is learning new and existing desktop applications – not new professional skills or product information.

Surprisingly, this isn’t news to the average call center manager. In fact, 67 percent of contact center managers agree that relevant and sufficient training must be present to create satisfied employees.

So why don’t leaders prioritize better training more often?

The answer boils down to a lack of time, resources, and knowledge about better training methods. Training well is hard work and takes a whole lot of intentionality. Many companies have an archaic classroom style of training. They halt progress by shutting down their entire contact center for a day. Imagine if the costly budget used to fill your agents’ empty seats was allocated towards better training tools.

Organizations get stuck in old fashioned training methods that are dry, expensive, and feel like a waste of time for everyone involved.

But there are loads of resources and tips out there that, if adopted, can transform how you think about training your agents. Better training can give way to greater employee empowerment, and ultimately lead to higher retention rates.

I’m here to convince you…it’s worth it.

For starters, consider using Sharpen’s coaching tools to maximize your time and energy.

A fresh look.

Begin with educating new and existing hires about the company.

Teach them about your values, mission, purpose, and goals. It gives your contact center agents comprehensive awareness of how valuable they are to your company’s growth and success.

Create resources and references for your agents.

They’ll be empowered to find answers and solve problems on their own. And they won’t feel like they need to come to you for advice with every customer interaction. Whether this is an existing knowledge base, a style guide you’ve created, or access to other departments in the company, your agents should know where they can go to find the answers to customer problems. And, let them know it’s not a weakness to ask for help.

Make use of your top performing agents. Give them some of your training tasks.

This saves you time and energy, as a manager. Plus, it’s vital for a call center agent to look to their peers and see good skills at work. Peer-to-peer comparison trains your team to look to one another when solving problems, all while adding in a healthy dose of competition.

Use call recordings and transcriptions to your benefit.

Review the best and worst calls of each agent and take the time to document valuable feedback and trends. This practice exposes areas where your employees may need a little extra guidance on how to use your software, or a little more coaching on the best phrases to use with customers.

Encourage your agents to listen to their own recordings.

Everyone hates hearing their own voice, but boy does that help you see where you can improve.

Be cautious not to just criticize an employee in training. From your own experience, provide constructive feedback and tactics to improve. Four out of ten workers remain actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback from their employers. And 65 percent of employees say they want more feedback. It’s important!

Don’t stop after onboarding. Coaching is necessary, and there are many tools, like in-line training, that can help you build coaching into your daily schedule.

We originally published this article on October 10, 2017, and we updated it for tone and new insight on April 4, 2019.