CSR Training Best Practices for Improving CX

Author: Mike Desmarais, Founder & CEO, SQM Group

csr training, contact center awards

In recent years, CSR training initiatives have been put under the microscope for determining if the training initiatives have had a positive impact on FCR, call resolution and Csat. It is no longer acceptable to assume that training efforts are working to improve customer experience. SQM’s FCR research shows that there have been few organizations that can empirically prove that, as a result of their CSR training efforts, their FCR, call resolution and Csat has improved.

The following are CSR training best practices that help improve FCR and call resolution:

  • Train supervisors on how to coach CSRs to improve VoC performance and to engage CSRs so they are motivated to improve their call resolution and Csat.
  • Budget and properly plan for providing CSR training
  • Call resolution training for both new hires and for existing CSRs.
  • Hire CSRs with a customer-centric attitude and train for knowledge and technical skills.
  • Use job shadowing and peer mentoring for CSR new hires.
  • Incorporate VoC repeat call reasons and solutions into new hire and ongoing CSR training programs.
  • Use training technology tools to provide self-directed training.
  • Hands-on training and VoC assessment.

Call Resolution Delivery Model

To help CSRs do everything in their power to resolve a customer’s call, SQM has developed a Call Resolution Delivery Model which defines the customer experience standards and word choices that a CSR should use in order to be successful at resolving customer calls at the world class level of 95%. Unlike the usual call flow models, which are developed to minimize handle time or from an organization perspective, the Call Resolution Delivery Model is modelled from key moments of truth that a customer experiences in resolving their call. The Call Resolution Delivery Model covers four basic moments of truth that a customer wants a CSR to demonstrate on every call – Understand Me, Help Me, Care About Me, and Resolve Me. By developing a clear understanding of how to deliver each of these moments of truth during a call, a CSR can dramatically reduce the volume of repeat calls resulting from CSR SoE.

A best practice is to train all of your CSRs on the Call Resolution Delivery Model, regardless of their call resolution or Csat performance. The CSRs chosen for training should not be restricted to only low or poor performing CSRs, nor should the mix of the group be limited to only one performance level. SQM has often found that the largest call resolution and Csat improvements typically come from first and second quartile call resolution performing CSRs rather than from the lower quartiles. CSRs at all performance levels and all tenures should attend the training with no more than five CSRs per session so that there is minimal impact to contact center operations and to maximize learning and sharing opportunities within the group. The call resolution training typically takes two days and should be offered throughout the year to accommodate all CSRs.

The CSR call resolution two day training program outcomes of improved call resolution and Csat performance are accomplished by using the following six steps:

  1. Introduction to FCR and call resolution and its importance to the contact center
  2. Performance review of the individual CSR based on customer survey data
  3. Education on the Call Resolution Delivery Model
  4. CSR self-assessment of call recordings
  5. CSR group call calibration using call recordings
  6. CSR call resolution goals and improvement plan

More details can be found in SQM’s book:

One Contact ResolutionThe purpose of this book, One Contact Resolution 2nd Edition, is to help contact center managers use best practices for improving customer experience.

Available here

2015 Contact Center FCR Best Practice Award Winners – CSR Training – Dialog Direct/Prime Therapeutics and VSP Vision Care


Criteria: There are 15 distinct Best Practice Awards (i.e., Omni-Channel, Web Self-Service Channel, IVR Self-Service Channel, Chat Channel, Quality Assurance Program, Desktop Applications, CSR Recognition Program, Career Development Program, Call Handling Practice, Real-Time CSR Support Queue, Performance Management System, CSR Coaching Program, CSR Training Program, CSR Hiring Process, Standard Operating Practices).

These awards recognize the organizations that have demonstrated they have improved or helped maintain high first call resolution and customer satisfaction performance.

Dialog Direct/Prime Therapeutics

With triple customer service representative (CSR) growth rates year over year due to rapid member (customer) growth, and with the unemployment rate in the local marketplace tightening, one would normally expect a significant reduction in First Contact Resolution (FCR) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). Typically this type of situation would create a large number of untenured staff and new management, resulting in inconsistent and significantly reduced FCR rates.

This was not the case with the dynamic partnership of Dialog Direct, a member engagement center (call center) located in Denison Texas, and Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefit management company to many Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In fact, FCR at Dialog Direct for Prime increased in 2015 over 2014. Not only did the FCR markedly increase, but also the scores were consistent month to month, not rising and falling as is typical with every new hire class released to the floor. Sample size for FCR measurement was approximately 2000 annually and the methodology used was through an SQM survey.

Download the Complete Whitepaper

VSP Vision Care

VSP’s CSR training program has a history of providing robust and comprehensive training to its call center staff. New representatives used to enjoy a 17 week journey that would cover every technical step and a wide-range of call handling procedures. This was a source of pride and historically served us well as a differentiator when bidding against competitors. Like many organizations, the business climate has significantly changed over the last five years. The training team was faced with the challenge of making training more efficient while increasing its effectiveness.

In 2012 we began evaluating the length of training. Key processes were identified and infrequent call scenarios were minimized by focusing on the use of tools and resources to equip the trainee to learn “just in time” as those rare situations arose. This reduced training time by 20%. In 2014, we undertook a deeper analysis of our training design to evaluate not only what we were training, but how we were training it. The result was an immersive approach to learning by blending the best practices from the past with an increase in key skills practice in low risk, scenario-based contexts. In addition, it required alignment of a core set of competencies across the different life-cycle stages of the CSRs’ development from hiring to full mastery of the position along with a strong infrastructure of support at every level.

Download the Complete Whitepaper

2014 Call Center FCR Best Practice Gold Award Winner – CSR Training – Premera

Criteria: There are 10 distinct Best Practice Awards (i.e., Quality Assurance Program, Desktop Application(s), CSR Recognition Program, Career Advancement, Call Handling Practice, Real-Time CSR Support Queue, Performance Management System, CSR Coaching Program, CSR Training Program, CSR Hiring Process).

These awards recognize the organization that has demonstrated they have improved or helped maintain high first call resolution and customer satisfaction performance.

At Premera we serve 1.8 million people—from individuals and families to Fortune 100 employer groups. Our mission is to provide peace of mind to our customers about their healthcare. As one of the largest health plans in the Pacific Northwest, we provide comprehensive, tailored services to customers in Washington and Alaska that include innovative programs focused on wellness and prevention, disease management and patient safety—delivered through health, life, vision, dental, stop-loss, disability, workforce wellness, and other related products and services. We are committed to controlling rising medical costs while ensuring access to quality care for our members

In 2014, Premera started “SQM Workshops,” which is a three-day program that all CSRs will go through annually. Every other week, five CSRs are selected to attend the workshop. A dedicated area on the call floor, where the workshop will be held, is decorated to create a fun environment. One Team Leader and one Call Coach are assigned to manage the workshop, for which they completely clear their calendars and provide 100% focus to the CSRs attending the workshop. The intent of the workshop is to provide CSRs increased dedicated time with a Team Leader and a Call Coach to focus on call resolution and the member experience.

Download the Complete Whitepaper