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IT Companies: Train Your Agents to Be Phone Support Superstars

When a phone call comes in, the support agent has to juggle multiple tasks - actively listening to the problem, reassuring the customer or diffusing their mood, creating the ticket, and researching an answer to the problem.It's one of the toughest jobs out there, and support staff often don't get the recognition they deserve.

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In your IT firm, there's a lot you can do to help encourage a robust, clever and awesome phone support team - the kind of team customers rave about. Here are five ways you can train your support agents to be phone support superstars:

1. Allow agents to “level-up” before tackling phone queries

In computer games, you don’t fight the big bosses right at the beginning. Not only does that take the fun out of the game, but it makes it too overwhelming too early on. Your character doesn’t have enough experience fighting, and It’s impossible to win. That’s no fun.

It’s the same way with phone support. New team members can’t jump straight in on the phones. They don’t know the product, the systems, or the types of queries they’re likely to receive.

Start them on email support, or some other task where they are able to learn the product at their own pace, before moving them on to phone support.

2. Start Slow and Build Up To Awesome

Instead of putting pressure on a trainee to get on the phones as soon as possible, let your agent give you notice when he/she is ready for the phones. If the agent feels comfortable, the calls will go smoother, and in no time they will hit their stride.

It’s a good idea to start a trainee support agent on answering voicemail messages, which gets them used to opening a dialogue with a customer on the phone, while enabling them to plan what they say and research a problem beforehand.

3. Provide Feedback

Feedback on calls helps the new agent to see where their strengths lie and what areas they need to focus on.

When your new support agent starts on the phones, pair him/her up with a buddy with a lot of experience. The buddy listens in to all the new agent’s calls and gives detailed feedback on what worked and didn’t work. This feedback can then be incorporated into new phone conversations.

4. Give Encouragement and Incentives for a Job Well Done

Phone support is hard work, and you should have the utmost respect for those who do it, and do it well. Encourage your support team to achieve great results by focusing on their achievements and even incentivising great work.

Simple ideas like a “Support Call of the Week” or “Support Person of the Month” with a small prize (a cash bonus, a voucher, a free lunch) can help the team to focus on customer satisfaction and teamwork, especially if the award is awarded by their peers.

It can also help the morale of a team to highlight the particularly crazy or out-there calls, or the way a team member handled an irate caller. Even if the situations did not resolve themselves successfully, agents should be able to feel proud of keeping a level head when handling difficult situations.

If you have surveys and other workflows to measure customer feedback on support, it’s a great tool for pulling out positive interactions and sharing them with the team. Hearing about the good work done on the support team helps keep everyone motivated and striving to serve the customers best.

5. Don’t Be A Slave to Metrics

It is important to track metrics from your phone support team, such as total call volume. These metrics enable you to predict trends in your phone support and adjust as necessary, such as adding more team members during a product launch.

However, don’t force your support team to be a slave to these metrics by imposing limits on call lengths or penalising those who use hold more than others. When you do this, you shift the focus away from the customer’s needs and on to your firm’s needs, and that’s not the role of support.

Remember, the focus of phone support is to provide support for the customer, not to get them off the phone as quickly as possible. Make sure you’re providing quality service before you worry about how long each call is taking.

It’s a fast-paced, instant-gratification world out there, and customers want an answer to their question NOW, and they often aren’t afraid to be vocal about it. Your phone support team are one of the most valuable assets your IT company has, as they are the ones who will ultimately decide whether customers stick around or are drained away like a sieve. Support your team, and they, in turn, are better able to support your customers. It’s that simple!