Preparing Your Contact Centre Agents for Survival
Why they need to be better than a robot.
If I were employing call centre staff today, I’d be asking how my training and development processes helped my agents be better than a robot.
A lot of Contact Centre management complain that they either can’t recruit frontline agents or turnover is killing them. Or both.
But I think that the smart Contact Centre Agent has a fair question to ask.
Dear Boss , I’m aware that you guys are doing everything you can to off-load voice calls to self-service options.
So if you want me to stay with you theres something I need to know.
How are you going to prepare me to be better than a robot?
Now I’m one of those people that believes that, at critical moments, a person is going to want to talk to another person.
And with the growth in greying populations around the developed world, we’re still looking at demand in voice-based service for some time.
So now’s the time to prepare your Agents for what’s coming.
Because lets face it, they are going to need to be better than a robot so their job isn’t replaced.
Why contact centre agents need to be better than a robot
It’s an interesting industry but contact centre employees dont know that.
The Agent recruitment videos that I watch on YouTube look like they came from the same cookie cutter:
- You’ll need to have empathy!
- We’ll give you a buddy to work with!
- Look we have a pool table!
I’d love to see an Agent recruitment video that said :
- Our Centre is at the heart of our CX strategy and we will teach you all about CX and your role in it.
- Theres a lot of technology & operations going on here and we’ll teach you all about it.
- The world is changing so we’ll help you to become better than a robot.
Liz Ryan advises
Its time to leave a job when a half-year has gone by and you havent learned anything new.
That advice doesnt just apply to the big bosses.
Take your contact centre Agent development seriously
When I was running large Centres in the U.S. back in the 90s, we didn’t need to prepare staff to compete with a robot as they didn’t exist!
So we purposefully hired our frontline team from places like McDonalds and Hungry Jacks.
By and large, they already had the right attitudes.
Our job was to equip them to become better versions of themselves.
A few years later, when a big corporate restructuring came along, we had to let go hundreds of our Agents over the course of a few months.
It was tough, and emotionally draining.
But over those few months, we were proud that each and every one got a new job.
Every Friday afternoon, we would take Polaroids of the people that were leaving that week, and stage a candlelight ceremony to commemorate their being with us and then moving on.
We all cried.
In that early contact centre era, some of the processes we take for granted today were still immature
In those days, we didn’t have a lot of QA.
Our training could have been better.
As a result, our folks probably weren’t very good at saying the Customers name two times or asking for further assistance at the end of the call.
They would probably have failed some of the current assessments that I see so often today.
But because we didn’t script them, they were forced to learn the fine art of conversation.
How to sell, how to calm, how to influence.
Even how to stay calm during large-scale fluctuations in volume is a powerful self-management skill.
Our secret to success – and we were very successful in our day – was the calibre of our Team Leaders.
These direct Line Managers were the heroes who made our operation tick.
The world is changing.
But the need for people to learn and grow to succeed hasn’t.
Are you preparing your Contact Centre employees to be better than a robot?
Thanks for reading!
Recommended further reading: 6 Call Centre Agent Skills Every Agent Needs Today
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