Increase Sales With This Simple Call Center Training Technique
As direct marketers, we spend a great deal of time and money developing programs to make the phone ring. But it’s the call center agents that truly make the cash register sing.
Thus, I like to spend a great deal of time training customer service reps (CSRs) to be powerful brand advocates with the ability to make a difference with all customers. Personally I hate calling a company and hearing some disinterested rep deal with my order in a lackluster way. It tells me that the company I’m dealing with doesn’t get that the people manning the phones are the voice of the company.
A simple CSR training program can solve the lackluster attitude and increase conversion.
CSR’s should be training to think on their feet, rather than interacting with customers and prospects by reading a script. Of course, good call center software with a scripted environment can be beneficial, but even the best scripting can’t beat a well trained CSR’s instincts. It’s important to hire reps that can work this way, and then mentor and monitor them on an ongoing basis. A word of caution: Analyze call times to ensure youre reps aren’t burning up phone time with the personal touch.
My CSR training programs are quite simple. You don’t need elaborate monitoring equipment. Simply use a cassette recorder and some basic monitoring equipment you can buy at Radio Shack to record the CSR’s calls for a day, then listen to the tapes. Break the reps into teams of three or four and sit in a room together and listen to the day’s calls. Teach the reps to listen actively and objectively to the calls. Let them coach each other on the cues and buying signals that sometimes get missed in real time. If you spot a missed buying signal, stop the tape — I encourage all of the reps on the team to stop the tape if they hear something — and roll play how the rep could’ve made a difference in converting the call.
During the training process set up contests for the individual CSR and training team that generate the highest conversion rates. Drill the reps on making sure to be gentle and not pushy, as it’s human nature to get more aggressive to win a contest.
Stress the quality of the relationship with the customer as well as the quantity of the order.
Using this simple technique at one company I worked at, we increased conversion rates by as much as 20 percent. Also, by fostering an atmosphere of teamwork and healthy competition, we increased the enthusiasm and morale in our call center as well.
Train CSRs to seek out opportunities to cross sell effectively. Train your reps to know which items complement each other and coach these reps on the art of cross selling. Truth is, sometimes all it takes is a suggestion, something like, “Do you know, Ms. Jones, that we have a beautiful top that complements the shorts you’re purchasing today?”
What’s your best training technique? Let us know by posting below. Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing and a professor of direct marketing at Miami International University of Art and Design. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.