Contact center agent onboarding: four tips for success

Today is the day. You’re preparing for a Zoom call to welcome your new contact center agents. But as you set up your computer, you start wondering just how long they’re going to stick around. 

After all, as a veteran of the broadband and telecom space, you’re all too aware of the high turnover rate that plagues contact centers. You may even be experiencing short tenures among your own contact center agents. So how do you ensure that your contact center can retain staff?

To successfully battle high employee turnover, it’s crucial to ensure you set agents up for success from day one. To do this, you need to create a successful onboarding program. Below, we go over what contact center agent onboarding is, common mistakes and four tips to ensure contact center agent onboarding success. 

What is contact center agent onboarding?

Contact center agent onboarding is the process by which your new hires are introduced into your company’s contact center and overall organization. Onboarding programs often include informing your employees of company policies, values, culture and benefits. 

In addition, onboarding programs provide contact center agents with vital training to help them understand appropriate etiquette for interacting with customers as well as information about various devices and apps to improve their technical support knowledge. 

Current agent onboarding challenges 

The success of your contact center agent onboarding program can have a significant impact on your company’s overall performance. If your new agents don’t have a positive onboarding experience, they are twice as likely to start looking for a new job. Below are a few common challenges that can slow down the training process and impact the performance of new hires. 

Outdated training resources

Too many contact center training programs rely on courses with outdated information. The world of tech evolves fast. Companies like Apple and Google are constantly churning out new devices or software updates multiple times a year. This means that your agents’ hours of diligently studying your training materials could quickly become irrelevant, creating frustration for both the agent and customer in a real tech support call. 

Lengthy educational courses

The majority of contact center agent onboarding programs incorporate lengthy training programs. This can create information overload, overwhelming new agents. Agents may also struggle to remember all the information in hours of online videos and readings. If agents can’t recall or apply what they’ve learned in a real support call, this can slow down the onboarding process.

Lack of access to reliable information

Contact centers often lack a central knowledge base for agents to access reliable answers to customers’ tech support questions. This can force agents to turn to online forums that often don’t have credible information. Not only does this create potential cybersecurity risks for your company, but it can also decrease your businesses’ first call resolution rate (FCR)

The benefits of successful agent onboarding

A strong onboarding program benefits both your business and your new agents. Traditionally, contact centers struggle with high turnover rates. However, with the right onboarding program, companies can reduce turnover by 82%. A positive onboarding experience boosts agents’ confidence and can decrease onboarding time. In turn, this helps increase FCR as well as improve net promoter score (NPS)

Four tips to improve contact center agent training

Too often, contact center agent onboarding programs don’t meet the needs of new hires. However, this doesn’t have to be the case for your team. Below, we share a few tips to ensure the successful onboarding of contact center agents. 

Set clear goals

A good onboarding program starts with providing clear goals. By setting goals, new contact center agents understand your expectations and it ensures that they stay on track with learning milestones. Goal setting also provides a chance for management to identify gaps or areas for improvement in training if employees aren’t meeting those goals. 

Goal setting is also key to employee retention. In fact, new employees that complete an onboarding program with clearly defined goals are 58% more likely to be with a company three years later. This can provide significant cost savings for your business, since the cost of replacing an employee is up to two times the employee’s annual salary.

When creating goals for your onboarding program, it’s important to use SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. In addition, combining SMART goals with an employee 30-60-90 day plan can help your new hires clarify their deliverables and help you tailor an employee development plan to their specific training needs. 

Provide the right tools for training success

Many contact center training programs rely on lengthy training courses that provide outdated tutorials or information. Yet your company is busy. You don’t have time to update your training materials every few months. In addition, your customer support budget lacks the flexibility to buy and maintain new iPads, smart phones or other devices for each agent multiple times a year. 

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s important to equip your agents with the right tools. A more effective onboarding program should implement the use of virtual devices and apps for agents. Virtualization provides agents with a digital version of a device or software. 

Agents can simulate usage of these devices as if they were holding a physical product. They can also switch between multiple versions of the same device. Virtual devices and apps also allow agents to learn more about customers’ favorite products from anywhere, including in a remote tech support environment.

In addition, solutions such as Ozmo for Agents update dynamically, meaning your agents always have access to reliable, up-to-date information about products or software. This saves your company the trouble of having to constantly revise and manually update training resources. It also helps agents find the answers they need to assist customers faster. They can also trust the information they find to be reliable, instead of scouring questionable online forums that lack credibility.

Looking to improve agent performance and tenure?

All of this benefits both your agents and your business in numerous ways. Companies who use virtual devices and apps experience significant cost savings. In addition, virtualization decreases agent onboarding time, and allows agents to provide more tailored tech support to customers. Not to mention, this helps increase agent engagement and reduce customer churn.

Provide feedback

Throughout the onboarding journey, it’s important to provide clear feedback to new contact center agents. Identify their strengths and let them know where they are meeting or exceeding expectations. 

At the same time, be sure to mention areas for improvement. Don’t hesitate to adjust your onboarding goals and 30-60-90 plan so that it’s tailored to your new hire’s needs.

In addition, make sure to provide an opportunity for you and the human resources team to receive feedback as well. Implementing onboarding surveys can provide you with the feedback you need from new agents to identify the strengths of your onboarding program as well as gaps or areas for improvement. 

Consider creating a mentorship program

Mentors can be a great resource for new hires learning company policies, job duties and for getting to know the team. Mentorship programs not only help contact center agents perform better in their roles, but it also helps with employee retention. 

If your company is just starting its own mentoring program, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Set clear goals and expectations for both mentors and mentees.
  • Choose the best program format for your organization.
  • Provide training opportunities for mentors. 
  • Ask for feedback from mentors and mentees to identify areas for improvement. 

Reap the benefits of a strong onboarding program

Traditionally, many companies struggle to retain contact center agents. This is because many onboarding programs lack the appropriate resources to help new contact center agents thrive and succeed in their new role.

To reduce employee turnover, a successful onboarding program should provide new hires with clear goals so they can understand what’s expected of them. Additionally, be sure to provide feedback so new agents can identify areas for improvement. 

It’s also critical to provide agents with up-to-date information so they are armed with the knowledge they need to provide personalized, tailored tech support to customers. By implementing these best practices, your company can enjoy numerous benefits such as reduced customer churn, increased NPS and improved employee retention. 

Banner image with an icon of a notepad with a gold star in front of it. The banner reads: Free CX strategy guide. Improve contact center performance and provide exceptional support today!

Are you looking to increase agent engagement while decreasing onboarding time? Ozmo for Agents helps your contact center agents confidently handle complex technical inquiries while reducing costs and support times. Learn more about the future of tech support today!