Customer Service Skills Training: 5 Best Practices You Should Be Following

agents listening to manager for call center training specifically customer service skills training

The work of a call center agent is often stressful and demanding. This could be why the average yearly turnover rate for US contact center workers is 30-45%, more than double the average for all jobs, according to the Quality Assurance & Training Connection (QATC). Customer service skills training can make a big impact.

Between constant turnover and seasonal fluctuations, training new call center agents can present a major challenge for companies. That’s one of the reasons to follow these five best practices for call center training. Leveraging these tips and best practices, you can ensure quicker new agent ramp times, higher case accuracy, and improved satisfaction for agents and customers alike.

Here are our top five call center training best practices:

1. Focus on teaching the system, not the content

2. Offer in-contact agent guidance, not scripts

3. Simplify the case management process

4. Automate the most tedious, error-prone tasks

5. Give continuous feedback


Let’s dive into the details.

1. Focus on teaching the system, not the content

If your case management CRM system is equipped with integrated knowledge for agents, you can drastically reduce the amount of time spent teaching new agents all the details about your products and policies. An embedded agent knowledgebase avoids forcing agents to flip through binders and manuals, or having to navigate to a different window to find the relevant information – both of which can add considerably to average handle time.

ICMI advises optimizing agent training by ensuring they always have access to the most up-to-date information about new products or policy changes. By using one core knowledge source to power agent tools as well as public-facing self-service, you’ll only have to update information in one place.

2. Offer in-context agent guidance, not scripts

Keeping with the theme of learning a system vs. memorizing content, ensure that your case management system makes it easy for agents to know what to do next. Instead of approaching customer service skills training with the goal of making agents commit common resolution processes to memory, use agent desktop software that presents their next case in a simple dashboard queue, offers in-context guidance, dynamically changes case fields based on input, suggests next best actions and fulfillment options, and more.

Learn more about how to guide agents dynamically through each case for quicker, more accurate resolutions and shorter training times.

3. Simplify the case management process

In addition to the best practices above, another great way to minimize complexity is to ensure all customer communication channels can be easily managed in one agent tool. Instead of constantly navigating back and forth between different windows, and managing separate channels each in their own separate, disconnected systems, empower agents to work quickly and effectively using a CRM that integrates all incoming customer contacts into one place. Not only does this speed up training, it drives greater call center efficiency across the board.

4. Automate the most tedious, error-prone tasks

We’ve never met a customer service rep that chooses this profession because they love data entry. (They may be out there, but they’re rare!) All the more reason to automate as much of the data entry aspect of customer care as possible. Look for a case management tool that can:

  • Auto-populate case data like contact information, reason code, and product code based on “reading” incoming email or self-service interaction transcripts
  • Offer suggested matches for existing contacts to avoid duplicates
  • Dynamically change required fields based on case information, prompting agents to complete the right fields vs. guessing what information is needed
  • Present auto-complete options as agents type, reducing their need to memorize product or reason codes
  • Automatically generate email follow-up responses so agents need to only review and send

All of the functionality above automates the most tedious parts of case management while increasing data accuracy and freeing up agents to focus on what truly matters: engaging with customers.

5. Give continuous feedback during customer service skills training

The best way to continuously improve the skills and performance of call center agents, whether new and experienced, is through a constant feedback loop. Call center leaders commonly listen to ongoing calls to provide direct feedback to agents on what they did well and what could have gone better. This is one of the best tools for coaching agents on their interactions with customers.

But technology can empower managers to take this feedback a step further. Using an automated CRM data quality tool, managers can QA 100% of case data and quickly identify trends in case coding errors, pinpointing areas where agents may need re-training or codes that seem to consistently cause confusion. Since the data captured by call centers provides such valuable insight into customers, it’s important to have this data be as clean and reliable as possible. Coding errors can also indicate that agents are struggling to understand a certain product or contact reason, presenting opportunities for additional training.

Armed with these call center agent training tips, you’ll be ready to take on the constant challenge of training new agents. Looking for more help and advice? The customer care experts at Astute have been helping call centers operate more efficiently and improve customer satisfaction for 25 years. Schedule a live demo to see our award-winning technology in action.