Recruiting and Training World Class Customer Care Agents
12 October, 2021
The right attitude is only the first step
to becoming a successful agent.
By Pat Ricken, Director, Learning & Leadership Development, Transparent BPO
In today’s all too impersonal digital world, interpersonal skills are almost non-existent. Many find it too easy to block or “unfriend” someone who challenge or frustrates us. Thus, many prospective customer care agents lack the skills, the will and the confidence to have difficult conversations with unhappy customers. Additionally, the isolation of distance learning and remote work increases discomfort for the majority of customer service reps.
It takes a special person to become a customer service agent, though it really is not that complicated. It starts with someone who has a caring attitude and the ability to connect with another person on a human level – we can teach the rest. We understand that the customer doesn’t care how much we know – until they know how much we care. We are looking for those who believe in the nobility of service and the satisfaction that comes from solving problems and making people happy.
At Transparent BPO, we have a well-defined process to recruit ‘caring’ teammates and train them in the skills for success. This process has led to one of the lowest attrition rates in the industry, along with unmatched customer satisfaction scores.
Our Passion is the Success of your Brand
During the application process, we test and assess a candidate to gauge their fit as a brand advocate for Transparent BPO and our clients. While other BPOs may focus on billable “butts in seats,” we’re the exact opposite. We know that everyone we hire is a reflection on our brand, and in fact only about 18% of all applicants even receive an offer letter after a rigorous screening and assessment process.
When we’re building a candidate’s personality profile, we’re looking for specific attributes. Will they excel at customer service? Perhaps their sweet spot is in sales or tech support. Are they analytical or empathetic?
We want to know these things upfront so we can determine if their attitude, commitment and passion are a good fit for Transparent BPO, and then we can work to develop the specific skills they will need for success on their programs. Everything we do is designed to deliver on our Mission: ‘Our passion is the success of your brand.’ It’s a simple and straightforward Mission Statement but it packs a punch – not only for our people, but for our clients.
They understand that success stems from getting the fundamentals right. Once we establish the fundamentals, we build on them through a three-phased approach to new hire training. Each phase has a distinct purpose and new hires must successfully complete each phase to be eligible to move on to the next.
Phase 1: New Hire Orientation and Onboarding
This phase starts with a virtual Culture Day. This ensures that every new hire from Day 1 embraces our unique culture, our Mission and our four Core Values of Quality, Clients, Community, and Transparency. These values are our compass and guide our behaviors and decisions and empower our team members to always do the right thing.
In this first phase, we also explore the impact of the words we choose, how we say them, and the importance of listening and making a human connection on all interactions.
Because our agents are based either in Belize or the Philippines, U.S. acculturation is center stage in Phase 1, helping agents understand the habits and expectations of the customers they will serve. While most already have a strong familiarity with American lifestyles, we build on their knowledge to include regional and demographic nuances. For example, they learn that American customers prefer to be addressed by their first name – no “Miss” or “Mister” in front of the first name. We explore the widely accepted practice of having credit cards on file for services in the U.S. so it’s not a big deal to ask for a credit card on subscription service. We review time zones, regional climate and seasonal changes. All of those nuances help us build a stronger affinity with our customers.
Phase 2: Client Specific Program Training
In the next phase, we dive deep into our clients’ goals and help agents appreciate the value proposition of the brand they represent, so we can become an extension of that brand. We leverage the intellectual property and unique content of our clients to ensure agents are ready to support that specific account. This will include product, systems, and tools training, with an emphasis on the human connection in each transaction. Our program trainers are certified as “Training Pros” to enable them to adjust their approach to satisfy the needs of all learning styles.
Our program, Acculturation Training, is also a key differentiator where we give agents insight into the industry they support. For example, when supporting a satellite radio client, agents learn the cost of new and used vehicles in the U.S. and the average daily commute times so they see the value of having listening choices at the driver’s fingertips so they can explain that a monthly subscription fee is not a significant expense. This knowledge helps agents build positive sales behaviors.
At the end of Phase 2, agents participate in mock calls to blend theory with action and build habits of success as they graduate to the next phase.
Phase 3: Launch Pad
In the final phase of the new hire training process, called Launch Pad, agents transition from the classroom to the call floor in a fully supported nesting environment. This is typically a two-week process where agents are assigned step-goals that increase each week as they get a chance to put their new skills into practice under the nurturing eye of a certified mentor.
During the first week of Launch Pad, we may have one mentor supporting five agents so new hires get the customized support they need. Depending on the complexity of the client’s program, the agent/mentor ratio may change to 10:1 for the second week. Agents receive daily feedback from their mentors who observe them side-by-side or listen to call recordings, and agents get an opportunity to fine-tune their skills using our proven “Do-Over” technique.
At the end of each week in Launch Pad, mentors, operation leaders, and trainers meet to assess the development of each agent and determine who is ready to be certified and endorsed to move on to full production, and who may be given an opportunity to extend their Launch Pad phase.
Skills and Knowledge Gaps:
This happens. And when it does, we act quickly.
Once a skill or knowledge gap is identified, our operations teams work with the Training & Development and Digital Learning Teams to address the gap and assign pre-existing courses or develop unique content designed specifically to meet the needs of the program. We identify and issue, we fix the issue.
Individual agents who are slipping or struggling to meet their goals can also be invited to join in a “Production” version of Launch Pad called ‘Success Bay’. This allows a seasoned agent to participate in a personalized two-week nesting experience, where they are assigned specific goals under a nurturing mentor to help them get back on track
“Our goal is the success of our clients’ brands,” and everything we do is focused on recruiting and training agents to represent those brands with world class excellence.