Call Center Training: Achieving a True Multi-Skilled Environment in the Call Center Part One
While many contact centers claim to be multi-skilled – and many solutions claim to support multi-skilling – there is often confusion about what this actually means. While most call centers have implemented technologies that automate routing to ensure that calls are delivered to the agent most skilled to handle them, multi-skilling is about more than just a technology. For starters, you need to know your agents’ skills, and you need to ensure that there are sufficient resources to support each skill.
TMCnet recently reported how the call center must establish service level goals for each particular call type; however, it can be rather tricky for the call center manager to handle and/or balance this. Even more, when trying to handle such a task manually, call center managers can spend a significant amount of time and still encounter problems.
In other words, as a call center manager, you can spend a significant amount of time, and while agents can be game to help, there are still various obstacles and roadblocks when it comes to achieving a truly multi-skilled environment.
CallCentreHelper, a UK-based website dedicated to strengthening all aspects of the call center including training, recently published a series of common-sense tips for achieving true multi-skilling in the call center. The site compiled the list from advice from contact center managers and other individuals with practical advice. Some of the tips include:
- Creating call centers within call centers. Essentially, it’s a way to create work groups based around skills, and then manage the various media types under those umbrellas. This will make it easier and more convenient for the manager when strengthening agent training, and will help him or her to distribute attention where it’s most needed.
- Whisper alerts. Many contact center solutions provide for these types of alerts that essentially “whisper” to an agent in advance what type of call is coming in. This will help the agent to better prepare and figure out which training method they should implement to the call to best meet the customer’s needs.
- Call blending. Skillful call blending can help meet the call center’s needs even better, but it can also help retain agents by alleviating boredom, the report notes.
- Combine single-skills and multi-skills. One contact center interviewed said that it uses single-skilled staff to deal with the bulk of the workload for each work stream, but uses multi-skilled staff to handle workload variation or staff absence.
- Consider a new policy. Many call centers have determined that routing callers to the last agent they spoke with (if possible) helps improve the customer relationship. And think about it, when you speak to the same person you were dealing with last time, the customer experience will most likely be more unified, seamless and parallel to what they last encountered, which should be the ultimate goal.
- Mix up calls and e-mails. Agents are generally capable of handling simple e-mail requests when call volumes are moderate or light. It helps mix up their work and relieves boredom.
- Compensate multi-skilled agents well. If you are lucky enough to hire agents with multiple valuable skills to your organization, compensate those people in a way that will make them want to stay.
- Reporting and analytics. It’s critical to keep a close eye on the call center all the time, but with a multi-skilled environment, it’s even more critical. Reporting functions are vital, and analytics can help even further to provide the complete customer experience.
- Keep service levels high. Many contact centers find using a traffic light system (red, yellow and green) for different types of queues can help ensure that service levels are being met.
- Pay attention to training. One contact center told CallCentreHelper that it had great success using “shadow” training in which a manager, supervisor or experienced agent are “shadowed” by agents in training to learn best practices in a hands-on way.
While there is no magic bullet to getting a multi-skilled environment right, there are common sense steps that can be taken to make achieving success easier. It all starts with knowing the call center’s operations inside and out, so a multi-skilled approach can help improve and clarify operations instead of muddying them.
Want to know some more helpful tips for call center training and strengthening multi-skilling? Be sure to check out part two – coming soon!
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo