Master agent onboarding: 5 Best practices for a stellar employee experience

Khoros Staff

5 best onboarding practices to set up your agents for success

Effective onboarding is vital to setting new agents up for success. In fact, Glassdoor found that employees who thought their onboarding was “highly effective” were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization. This is essential in the contact center space, where agent attrition has always been a struggle. Getting it right initially and making the agent feel comfortable in their new role is a step that cannot be minimized.

It begins by ensuring they understand your brand's mission, values, and culture, fostering a sense of alignment and belonging. Equipping agents with comprehensive product knowledge, practical communication skills, and the necessary tools for navigating the contact center landscape empowers them to represent the brand confidently.

To further cultivate growth and development, setting clear goals, building a supportive environment, leveraging technology, and establishing a regular feedback loop is crucial. These elements work together to build a high-performing team that consistently delivers exceptional customer satisfaction, ultimately driving the overall success of your organization.

Focusing on these onboarding elements can create a solid framework for agent success, so let’s walk through these best practices a little more.

Provide new agents with a solid foundation

Do you have a step-by-step process for your onboarding program that is accessible and repeatable? If not, it’s time to lay the groundwork to get you there.

Start with the big picture and introduce new agents to the company. Customer-facing employees must understand the company’s mission, values, and culture. This background also fosters a sense of belonging and alignment with the company, essential for long-term employee health, with 56% higher job performance and a 50% drop in turnover risk. Review the company handbook, providing information on accessing the company’s benefits and policies. Introduce agents to communities within the company. Are there communication channels and distributions they should participate in? Once they understand how to stay connected and aligned with the company’s goals and mission, you can hone in on their role.

The contact center is vital to every organization, acting as the hub for customer interactions and support, and agents are on the frontline. Agents represent the brand and must understand how to handle customer inquiries and complaints and escalate issues appropriately. Otherwise, a negative interaction could really impact your bottom line since 67% of people opt to share those experiences publicly.

To deliver exceptional customer service, they should be well-versed in your products and services. Schedule training that reviews essential information such as key features and benefits and goes a step further to illustrate common customer queries and responses. Share quick links to resources such as FAQs, knowledge bases, and brand communities so they can access them on the fly.

What happens if a customer is interested in purchasing an upgrade to their current service? Establish the lines of communication needed to reach other teams in the organization, whether it’s sales, marketing, product, or technical teams. This will also make them feel more connected in their new role.

Set clear goals and expectations

Outlining goals and expectations at the beginning gives new agents a sense of direction and an understanding of how their work impacts the business. For example, if you rely on average handle time as your primary measure of success, explain what it’s measuring and what actions new agents need to take to improve this. There’s no shortage of KPIs you can track within a call center, so it’s crucial to be clear about what is essential and provide benchmarks for them to strive towards.

While your agents are getting up to speed, they will experience brand-new customer scenarios and even difficult situations. Set them up for success, teach them to react empathetically, and employ active listening and problem-solving skills. They should provide every customer with clear, concise outcomes. Should a disgruntled customer come their way, they will need de-escalation techniques and an avenue to ask for help. Furthermore, they should know who to contact for assistance in those situations, so a supportive learning environment is critical.

Encourage a supportive environment

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, fostering a culture of learning and continuous improvement is necessary for organizations striving for success. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by providing a supportive environment that encourages employees to grow professionally. For contact centers and customer service teams, this principle holds particular significance. By instilling a learning culture, companies can equip their agents with the tools to excel in their roles and adapt to changing customer needs.

Assigning mentors to guide new agents can be a game-changer in creating a positive and nurturing work environment. Newcomers often face a steep learning curve and may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of their roles. A mentor can offer valuable insights, share experiences, and provide tailored guidance, helping new agents navigate the initial hurdles and build their confidence. While internal mentors are an essential piece of a thriving team, ensuring your mentors are also appropriately trained is crucial.

That’s where Khoros’s Product Coaching comes in.

Product Coaching is a complimentary service, ensuring your brand is always empowered to use our latest features. Focusing on increasing satisfaction and product adoption, the Product Coaching team delivers proactive, data-driven training sessions to drive success. Khoros has delivered over 10,000 product coaching sessions in just a few years. By employing a data-driven approach, we pinpoint the right users for our sessions, addressing specific needs directly. Our coaches analyze usage data to tailor sessions to the brand’s personalized requirements. If we notice any underutilized features, we'll reach out and offer to set up a session, guaranteeing your team has the tools needed to thrive.

By training your brand-identified mentors as superusers, we help equip your team with the tools they need to succeed on our platform.

Our coaching sessions are designed to provide personalized and hands-on support for you and your team. Whether it's a one-on-one session or a small group training, we cater to your needs across our entire platform. Unlike recorded videos, our sessions are interactive and conducted live, allowing you to schedule a convenient day and time to connect with a dedicated Product Coach via Zoom Meeting. During these sessions, you'll have the opportunity to share your screen, allowing our coach to guide you through specific areas of interest. This hands-on approach fosters a dynamic learning environment, empowering you to tackle actual work tasks while receiving expert guidance, maximizing the impact of your coaching experience.

Leverage your technologies and tools

If the contact center is the central hub for customer outreach, the technology powering it is the glue that holds everything together. Training to correctly use these technologies and tools is imperative, so get agents started as soon as possible. Confidence in using these systems will empower agents to work efficiently, be more consistent in their interactions, reduce errors, and promote collaboration.

Setting up your agents with the right technology will enhance productivity and efficiency in the long run. Offering them tools like a consolidated agent desktop allows them to manage their workflow and respond to customers from a single screen rather than having to jump in and out of applications. Help your agents understand which channels are available for customers to contact them on and teach them how to properly prioritize those channels, whether in a queue or a to-do list. AI and automation take it further by suggesting responses to common customer queries or the next-best actions for agents to handle. This helps decrease training time and gets them up to speed faster.

Create a regular feedback loop

Establishing a process to collect and provide feedback regularly is crucial for new agents to understand their progress and what benchmarks they can strive towards. More formal performance evaluations should be part of the process and happen on a recurring schedule. These conversations are where managers can provide constructive feedback to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and alignment with organizational goals.

Contact centers have always faced challenges with attrition; agents often leave if they feel stuck and have plateaued in their role. Establishing opportunities for growth and development helps keep agents happier in the long run. These can include options for career advancement, ongoing education, and training programs.

Now you’ve mastered onboarding

Effective onboarding sets the stage for your agent’s success. By developing a structured program with clear expectations, encouraging a supportive environment, leveraging your technologies, and providing ongoing feedback, you can pave the way for a seamless onboarding experience. Implement and adapt these best practices to your organization's needs, so you can build a high-performing team and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Empower your agents, elevate your customer experience, and drive success from day one.

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