Customer service is one of the most significant differentiators between your brand and the competition, but its success solely depends on the performance of agents on the front lines — which is why your training program needs to include initiatives that improve agent engagement.
From motivation and performance to empowerment and retention, engagement itself is connected to other key areas that deserve priority. Where agent engagement trends, the other areas follow.
Why Agent Engagement Matters to Customer Service Teams
Agents who feel engaged take their efforts to the next level, and it’s appreciated by your customers during service interactions. When an agent goes the extra mile to address an issue and resolve it effectively, the customer remembers this and will be more likely to choose your brand again.
In the report Customer Service Trends for 2022: Preparing for the Future of Customer Service, it’s clear that customer needs and expectations have shifted dramatically. 60% of respondents in the research study said they would stop buying from a brand after a less-than-ideal service interaction.
To summarize very simply: you can’t afford to let agent engagement fall to the wayside and hurt customer experience (CX).
As a result of improving agent engagement, you’ll reduce attrition as well. Agents commit to the overall mission of the company after realizing that you acknowledge, value, and reward the outcomes they produce on the customer service team. Instead of worrying about losing agents due to weak team morale, you’ll stabilize turnover with a tight-knit, motivated roster of talent in it for the long haul.
Between all of the benefits, it’s evident that agent engagement charts a path toward delivering better service interactions, earning more loyal customers, and ending the revolving door of turnover.
Customer Service Training Ideas Your Team Needs
In your pursuit of improving agent engagement, don’t lose sight of the end goal: happier agents, happier customers. But, at the same time, remember that you shouldn’t force anything. Agents want to enjoy where they work and how they work, and anything you can do to play to that will pay off.
Here are several customer service training ideas for improving agent engagement to make an impact on CX.
#1. Let Agents Analyze Customer Feedback Themselves
Customer feedback needs to be shared directly with agents. It provides every agent the opportunity to observe what customers thought of their service interactions — both the good and the bad — and understand how they can perform at a higher level in the future.
Both the good and the bad of customer feedback serve a purpose to motivate agents. Positive feedback reminds an agent that they’re executing in alignment with expectations. As for negative feedback, it may sting to read at first but, at the end of the day, constructive criticism steers an agent in the right direction to self-correct their communication and workflow.
1:1s with a manager or supervisor cover customer feedback, but these meetings are typically curated by leadership and might omit minor details still be valuable to the agent. By sharing customer feedback with full transparency, an agent is in the driver’s seat to know what went well, what went poorly, and how they can do better the next time around.
Sharing feedback directly with agents also optimizes customer service training. While a 1:1 allows for an agent and their leader to have an in-depth discussion, it could be days or weeks after a service interaction occurred. But when an agent accesses their own feedback stream, they know in real-time what a customer said and felt about an interaction to self-correct immediately.
#2. Build a Better Tech Stack & Streamline Workflows
Training agents isn’t necessarily easy, but some of the hurdles you’ve experienced in the past may have been caused by an inadequate tech stack. Not only does this hinder customer service training, but a tech stack lacking the right tools also weakens the ability of agents to do their job.
Tools that streamline your workflows, such as a learning management system (LMS) or knowledge base (KB), reduce stress while keeping agents focused on the customer first and foremost. Rather than sharing inaccurate information and making the customer wait to receive a response, a well-designed tech stack ensures agents feel confident they’re sharing verified information in the moment.
#3. Recognize & Celebrate Agent Performance
In the average week, think of what your agents accomplish for the rest of the business. Agents tackle an influx of inquiries that range from short and sweet to lengthy and exhausting. No matter the day or the hour, agents on the front lines show up and treat your customers with empathy. And in turn, brand loyalty among customers is built.
It’s only fair to return the favor with an employee recognition program that celebrates their efforts and results. To agents, an employee recognition program proves that you care.
In a separate blog post, take a closer look at employee recognition program examples to try out:
- Share ‘Weekly Wins’ Emails
- Build a Dedicated Channel for Kudos
- Coach Using Standout Service Interactions
- Offer Rewards to Make Recognition Real
- Put Bonuses in Agents’ Bank Accounts
You want agents to feel acknowledged and valued — not only within the customer service team but also throughout the organization. If you amplify their success, it motivates all agents to perform better and earn the same recognition that their peers have.
#4. Host Role-Playing Sessions to Understand Customers
Train your customer service team to treat customers the way they want to be treated. Known as the ‘Golden Rule’ around the world, this type of mindset can be instilled in agents through role-playing sessions in which one agent poses as a customer while another agent aims to address and resolve it.
Role-playing sessions allow your agents to understand customers by going through their experiences. You should continue to use recorded service interactions with real customers, but role-playing sessions are more engaging by involving agents in the thought process of what customers normally say and how agents respond.
#5. Use a Leaderboard for Friendly Competition
On your mark, get set, go! What better way to bring life to the energy of your customer service team than with some friendly competition?
Remember that you’re trying to make agents feel engaged rather than disinterested. To build a sense of community and spark their competitive spirits, establish a leaderboard tracking the performance of agents. It’ll bring full visibility into the entire customer service team’s performance while displaying who the top performers are and who’s on the rise.
Agents at the top of the leaderboard feel compelled to defend their place, and the other agents are going to do their best to knock them off their perch. In the midst of this friendly competition, your customers will benefit as agents have renewed motivation to earn positive reviews and ratings during service interactions.
#6. Incentivize Top Performance with Rewards
Nothing excites agents quite as much as a tangible recognition. While your customer service training takes place, remind agents that they’re eligible to receive rewards such as a gift card or even cold hard cash when they thrive in their service interactions and earn favorable customer feedback. It indicates to agents that your money is where your mouth is.
Leadership can determine which agents receive rewards based on key metrics, or it can be left to customer votes in a structure that really gamifies engagement. The more engaged the agent, the more motivated they are to succeed and receive rewards.
Rewards go hand-in-hand with the other customer service training ideas shared above, too. Running an employee recognition program? Have a leaderboard in use? Tie in rewards incentivizing agents to perform at a high level and receive a ‘thank you’ beyond just the two-word utterance.
Get Started with Results-Driven Customer Service Training Ideas
Building a best-in-class customer service team starts with the training they’re provided, which you can fine-tune so that agents meet and exceed the expectations of your customers.
Learn how to create an actionable customer service coaching and training program with our guide Customer Service Coaching Plan: 9 Tips for How to Coach More Successful Agents.