With the COVID-19 pandemic, contact centers are facing new challenges each day. Your customer volumes are fluctuating. Your agent availability may have decreased. If you’re new to at-home work, your team’s productivity may be waning. How do you adapt to these volatile times while still focusing on customer experience? One short answer: skill up.
There are many reasons why you’d want to skill up. You may want to train your employees with a backup skill, so they can pitch in when volumes are high. There may be new demand for a specific channel (like social or live chat) that you may need to train for. After all, introducing new or redundant skills among your agents is more cost-effective than hiring.
Your remote team may be facing unprecedented challenges, too. Kids are at home when they should be at school or daycare. Employees, who were once on the office phones, may need to switch to chat or email because of their dog barking.
There are many other reasons why you may consider skilling up your team. Here is a practical guide to skilling up for CX success in today’s crisis:
Adapt to remote work
With many contact centers going virtual, your employees’ biggest challenge right now may be remote work itself. This is especially challenging for employees who have only ever worked in brick-and-mortar offices. Their at-home setup may not be ideal. Communication and productivity issues may be taking their toll.
To help your employees now, The Call Center School has a free course on remote work for contact center employees. This course will help you and your employees get started with a virtual setup. It also helps you reduce distractions and adapt to new ways of communicating.
Focus on employees, empowerment & empathy
According to McKinsey & Company, customer experience will be measured by how you “deliver experiences and service that meets [customers'] new needs with empathy, care and concern.” This starts from the inside: thinking about your employees first.
Your contact center employees are your frontline. It is their interactions and ability to problem solve that will leave a lasting impression on your customers. Prioritize and empower your employees.
One way you can do this is by educating them on their own importance and The Power of One. Motivational courses, like these, help your employees shift their perspective on their role and responsibilities. It also encourages them to work with autonomy.
Encourage your employees to solve problems independently, but in collaboration with customers. Frontline agents will be more productive if they are working with customers (instead of working for your company).
You can help your employees be more empathetic by offering more “soft skills” training, too. Learn about “power phrasing” and how to win over customers with a positive “message makeover.” This will help your team deliver meaningful care. In a time of uncertainty, your agents can be a voice of positive guidance and reassurance for your customers.
Manage Stress & Challenging Callers
According to one recent study in the Harvard Business Review, calls identified as “difficult” more than doubled during the COVID-19 crisis. To avoid employee stress and burn-out, you may want to retrain your staff on how to manage challenging callers.
Dealing with difficult callers is stressful. But knowing what to say and do can help. It can turn a bad customer interaction into a positive one. Learning communication techniques to deal with emotional or angry customers can diffuse tense situations before they escalate.
Be Where Your Customers Are
Customer behavior has changed. From Zoom to WhatsApp, customers are depending on digital and social channels to stay connected. As the crisis continues, these channels are also becoming essential to their lives. As a result, you may need to embrace new channels to succeed with your customers.
Listen and engage with your customers on the channels that they’re using. To do this well, you may need to invest in your technology first. This technology will enable your team to listen, monitor and communicate.
Next, you’ll need to create a skilled team. Try to find employees who have skills that are similar to those of your new channel. Then, invest the time to train your team. These skilled employees will have an easier time learning, which leads to greater customer success.
Skill up starting today
Under the current circumstances, customer experience is more relevant than ever. Brands that succeed now are going to retain their customers long term. Skilling up your staff through e-learning is a cost-effective way to improve your CX. It allows you to build loyalty and create a lasting impression with customers. It may also position you ahead of your competition when this crisis is over.