The customer service industry is a long way from the call centre of old and the evolution of modern contact centres is having a dramatic effect on the quality of customer service. The need for employees that want to make careers in organisations where they excel at customer service and gain progression has never been higher. The issue of retaining the right people, finding the right people and making use of the apprenticeship levy to drive progression, resilience and quality are lingering pain points for managers and decision makers.
The message from Dr James Lott, Managing Director of Working Knowledge is simple; “Companies should not limit themselves to their levy or even separate it away from their normal training strategy. The new levy is not a tax for the organisation, the levy can supercharge really strong training programmes. Instead of just affording a slice of the training apple, you can afford the rest of the apple, the core and most of the tree it came from!. Our training programmes are proving cost neutral to most organisations but with profound impacts. Strong training opportunities are a compelling factor for all the people we work with to stay with organisations and make careers.”
So what should training include for today’s Contact Centres?
As well as calls, contact centre employees need to be proficient in skills for multichannel interaction. The ability to hold online chats, craft emails, build trust and relationships with customers and make the most of web interfaces in a business manner are vital. These skills come from great interpersonal skills, something the millennial generation are struggling with in a business setting. The resilience needed to also handle feedback and difficult conversations is also a factor that’s drives people to leave roles because they feel they can’t cope.
Training for today’s contact centres should look at skills such as small talk, handshakes, peer to peer feedback and how to handle difficult conversations. All of these improve the ‘conversation’ with the customer. In terms of business systems learning to really listen and ask the right questions within a conversation adds to better, trust, CRM records and data entry for that customer. The younger generation needs to feel that their inherent ability to absorb digital communication tools is of benefit but also understand that in a business context they need to use those tools in a different way. Emoji conversations won’t cut it with customers but what that emoji stands for may well be appropriate.
Resilience comes from failing. The ability to fail fast, understand that failure is temporary and how to learn from that to lead to success is a progression that can be trained.
So what makes a great employee that will stay and progress?
Dr James Lott continues; “We have trained and recruited hundreds of people for contact centre environments. We know that people that have left school and want to go straight into a job to earn money can be motivated really well with the right training that is appropriate to their age and experiences. We would say we specialise in these millennial groups and have great success in placing and setting careers for them. Apprenticeships can be for any age though and the older age groups that already have built up some resilience and are looking for a more steady careers are also hugely successful.”
The evolution of ‘the contact centre’ is a swift and changing one and companies need to look to invest in their employees. Managers and companies cannot afford to keep starting from scratch with every person on a regular basis. Talent needs to be identified and nurtured to take on the latest developments as just another string to their bow and not a whole new world.
If your company would like to have a discussion about your contact centre recruitment and training then email firstname.lastname@example.org. Discussions are useful around best use of the apprenticeship levy and creating cost neutral training programmes bespoke to your organisation. For more information www.workingknowledge.org.uk/business