Training for Behaviors (Not Metrics) Key to Agent Success
July 17, 2018
By: Pat Ricken
Our Mission: “Through training, we develop high-performing employees to support our company’s Mission, Values, growth, and success.”
Our Motto: “Our goal is YOUR success.”
One word, exemplified in our mission statement and motto, sums up the goal of training and development here at Transparent BPO: Success.
It’s a word we apply both to our internal “clients” (the TBPO employees) and the external clients whose programs we support.
How the training department, which I oversee, goes about achieving that goal is simple: We train on behaviors, not metrics.
The Trouble with Training for Metrics Alone
Don’t get me wrong; metrics are essential. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
That’s why we added outcome and evaluation measurements to each topic in each unique program training curriculum — to measure our success more consistently and adjust as necessary to deliver the desired results.
Anyone can be trained to hit a metric and focus on short-term success. Instead, the key to long-term productivity relies on training for behaviors, ensuring that the success we achieve will be replicated time and time again.
Agents who know how to interact with customers, respond to their objections, and help them understand the value of the brand’s products or services will be successful in meeting the client’s desired KPIs. The same is true of customer service agents. Those who know how to listen, provide support, and genuinely care about the customer’s concerns will nail the metrics every time.
Why am I so sure that will be the case? In a word: Commitment.
Competence (knowledge and skills) + Confidence (belief in one’s ability to succeed) = Commitment
Our goal as a Training Team is to equip our agents with the knowledge they need to manage the call well, which serves to bolster their confidence to handle the next call (and the next and the next). A confident agent who performs the expected behaviors will have no trouble meeting the underlying supportive measurements.
Conversely, agents who get a frustrated customer on the line and are not well-equipped behaviorally to respond to objections or complaints are much less likely to remain productive, no matter how much management confronts them with the need to hit their numbers.
Metrics Don’t Tell the Whole Story
Another reason to focus on training for behaviors is that, often, contact center managers look at quantitative metrics, such as first-call resolution, service level, response time, and average handle time. But those don’t always tell the whole story.
Just because an agent answered a call quickly doesn’t mean she answered it correctly in the sense that it helped the customer or fostered greater loyalty for the client’s brand.
Training on behaviors, however, can make the difference between a customer who leaves the interaction dissatisfied and one who leaves feeling assured the agent heard her concerns and addressed them satisfactorily.
That’s why we make sure agents know how to match their response to the customer’s objections, and not just for the first objection but the second and third as well. In our book, that’s the best way to train for success.
What Behaviors Do We Train For?
If we train for behaviors, it’s fair to ask on which we focus. Here’s a short list:
Building a positive connection with the customer. Although we refrain from using buzz-phrases like “building rapport,” we do believe in creating a positive connection with the customer early in the call. That means showing respect, understanding the fundamental problem, and presenting a workable solution quickly and efficiently.
Learning to listen. If you ask a customer to describe a previous excellent customer service experience, it’s likely the person will say the agent listened to her concerns intently and with interest, actively communicating back to ensure she understood. (We teach agents to use active listening, paraphrasing the customer’s questions, to increase clarity and focus.)
Speaking the customer’s language. Agents and customers can often feel like they are speaking a different language. We train our agents to say things in a way or in a context the customer will understand. (Having native English-speaking agents who are familiar with and have an affinity for U.S. culture doesn’t hurt!)
Showing empathy. People need to know that we care before they care what we know, which is why showing empathy is a behavior we do our best to infuse in our agents. Empathy and listening go together, and agents who can do both well are sure to hit the mark with metrics.
Focusing on the problem, not the person. Even if the customer wants to act as if the agent is at fault, we train our agents to keep their focus on the problem, not the person. That helps them remain patient and calm rather than becoming anxious or defensive.
Training on metrics alone will lead to short-term success, yes, but the key to long-term productivity for TBPO’s agent employees, which leads to success in meeting the client’s KPIs, is to train on behaviors.
As our employees learn to build a positive connection with the customer, listen, speak the customer’s language, show empathy, and focus on the problem rather than the person, they gain the competencies and confidence necessary to handle any situation well.
Our unique training approach is just one feature that distinguishes Transparent BPO from other contact centers you may have worked with in the past.
To learn how the Transparent Difference can contribute to your brand’s success, request a free, no-obligation consultation. A member of our sales team will gladly answer your questions and help you understand if our company is the right fit for your needs.