Agent Training: Is Baptism By Fire the Answer?
When it comes to training new hires, there are several different approaches managers can take. Some people adamantly believe that baptism by fire is the only way to get started in a new position. Throwing an employee into their job without much training is certainly one was to assess someone’s quick thinking and ability to sink or swim under pressure. However, when it comes to customer service, that’s usually not the best approach. Agents need to be trained on how to deal with a variety of customer types, and throwing them to the wolves may cause them to create more problems than they’re solving.
So, what is the best way to train a new agent? Scenario-based training is one of the best options, as it allows agents to work on specific problems as if they’re solving them with a real customer. The baptism by fire concept does have one idea right—it’s easiest to learn when you’re doing something for yourself. Having veteran agents put together some scenarios they’ve encountered over the years, and then having new agents respond to those situations, is a great way to give them an idea of what’s to come. Through this method, new hires can practice how to respond to various scenarios and ask for advice before they even have to talk with an actual customer.
It’s also important to keep in mind while training that people are most helpful when they’re discussing a topic they’re comfortable with. And, believe it or not, there are quite a few customer service agents out there who have never used the product they sell. How are they supposed to help solve a problem a customer is having if they’ve never even used the product? Therefore, a large portion of agent training should involve new hires actually using the product. Whether it’s a cellphone or a vacuum cleaner, the agent should have some time to become familiar with the product. That’s the only way to ensure that they’re helping customers as effectively as possible.
Finally, be sure to ask agents for feedback on the training sessions. The only surefire way to improve agents is to make sure that they’re receiving proper training. And, if they feel that one topic needs to be covered more, or another approach might be better, then it’s important to take those suggestions into consideration. After all, training is for the benefit of the agents, so you want to make sure they’re getting the most out of it.
Edited by Maurice Nagle