SQM Group

Call Resolution Agent Training Tips to Improve Customer Service

July 30, 2021 | 5min read

Call Resolution Agent Training Tips

In recent years, Agent training initiatives have been put under the microscope for determining if the training initiatives have had a positive impact on First Call Resolution (FCR), call resolution, customer satisfaction (Csat), and customer service. As a result, it is no longer acceptable to assume that Agent soft skills training efforts improve customer experience (CX). SQM's FCR research shows that few organizations can empirically prove that, as a result of their Agent customer service soft skills training efforts, their FCR, call resolution, and Csat have improved.

SQM Group's CX research shows that 93% of customers expect their call to be resolved on the first call. Furthermore, our call center CX research shows for "every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction," and "95% of customers will continue to do business with the organization due to achieving FCR."

SQM's research also shows that 28% of the inbound calls result from the customer's call not being resolved on the first call for the average call center. For repeat calls, the Agent is the source of error (SoE) for 38% of those calls, and for most call centers, the Agent is the second biggest SoE for not achieving FCR. When calls are unresolved, and the Agent is the SoE, "40% of the time it is a will issue", and "60% of the time it is a skill issue." Interestingly, SQM Group's experience when a call center improves FCR, call resolution, and Csat results from reducing Agent FCR SoE. Moreover, in most cases, the fastest way to improve FCR and call resolution is to enhance Agent call resolution knowledge, abilities, skills and motivation.

Agent Training - Source of Error

Many call center managers are unaware of the impact of repeat calls on their Csat, Agent job satisfaction, and customer retention. SQM is often asked: "How can I get my Agents to improve their call resolution and Csat performance?", "How do I reduce customer defections?", "How can I improve these issues as soon as possible?" The answer to these questions can be found through implementing a Call Resolution Delivery Agent Training Program.

The following are call resolution training tips to help Agents improve FCR and customer service:

  • Train supervisors on how to coach Agents to improve Voice of the Customer (VoC) performance and to engage Agents, so they are motivated to improve FCR, call resolution, and Csat

  • Budget and adequately plan for providing Agent call resolution two-day training

  • Provide call resolution training for both new hires and existing Agents

  • Hire Agents with a customer-centric attitude and train for call resolution skills

  • Use job shadowing and peer mentoring for Agent new hires or poor Agent VoC performers using Agents as the mentor with the highest call resolution and Csat performance as the coach

  • Incorporate VoC repeat call reasons and solutions into new hire and ongoing Agent training programs

  • Provide call resolution classroom and/or e-learning training

  • Use Agent VoC customer service reporting software tool that can provide a dashboard view of call resolution, Csat performance and identifies opportunities to improve CX

Agent Call Resolution Two-day Training Session

Agent Training - 2 Days

Train all of your Agents on the Call Resolution Delivery Model. The Agents chosen for training should not be restricted to only low or poor performing Agents, nor should the mix of the group be limited to only one performance level. In many cases, SQM has found that the most effective call resolution and Csat improvements typically come from first quartile call resolution performing Agents rather than from the lower quartiles. Agents at all performance levels and all tenures should attend the training with no more than five Agents per session so that there is minimal impact to call 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 Agents.

The Agent 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 call center

  2. Performance review of the individual Agent based on customer survey data

  3. Education on the Call Resolution Delivery Model 

  4. Agent self-assessment of call recordings and survey results

  5. Agent group call calibration using call recordings

  6. Agent call resolution goals and improvement plan

Call Resolution Delivery Model

At the heart of world-class customer service is how Agents handle calls. Resolving calls and having very satisfied customers requires Agents to be highly skilled at call handling. Call center managers know that Agents must have the necessary product, service, and technology knowledge. However, the Agent's ability to resolve the inquiry or problem is more important.

As shown in Figure 1, the Call Resolution Delivery Model for Agent call handling best practice comprises the four key customer moments of truth that matter the most to customers and a proven track record for assisting Agents in resolving calls.

Figure 1: Call Resolution Delivery Model

Agent Training Moments of Truth

Listed below is a brief description of Agent tips for each moment of truth in the Call Resolution Delivery Model.

Understand Me

Agent determines and confirms the reason(s) for the customer's call by actively listening, probing, and clarifying to ensure understanding and acknowledging call history and documenting the conversation. 

Agent Training - Call Resolution Moments of Truth

Help Me 

Agent expresses and demonstrates a willingness to help customers by letting them know that they can help them, provide accurate and complete information, focus on the inquiry, take the necessary time to help the customer, and educate them with solution options.

Agent Training - Help Me

Care About Me 

Agent uses a friendly, enthusiastic, and warm voice tone, builds rapport, shows empathy for the customer's situation, is patient and honest, and expresses appreciation for the customer's business.

Agent Training - Care About Me

Resolve Me 

Agent resolves customer's inquiries or problems by answering questions, solving problems, providing solutions, using authority and taking ownership, providing fair treatment, summarizing calls, communicating next steps, and confirming that the call is resolved.

Agent Training - Resolve Me

Call Resolution Agent Training – Questions for Assessing Practices

  • Do you incorporate VoC survey data in your customer service or call resolution Agent training?

  • How do you manage customer service or call resolution training costs and funding?

  • What is the customer service or call resolution training budget?

  • How do you get the most out of your customer service training programs?

  • How do you align training with business needs and individual employee competency needs?

  • Do you train Agents to deal with difficult customers and/or escalated calls?

  • Do you train Agents using some service delivery or call resolution model?

  • Do you use a call resolution competency assessment tool?

  • Do trainers reinforce the right attitudes and skills in your training program?

  • Do you train supervisors on how to coach Agents to improve VoC performance?

  • How many training days are required before an Agent is appropriately trained?

  • Do you use a call resolution training simulation software, training videos, or computer-based training?

  • Do you use assessment tests and certification for new and/or ongoing training?

  • What is the number of days for refresher training, on-the-job training, and classroom training for existing Agents?

  • Do you feel that you make time for training Agents to resolve calls?

  • Do you hire for attitude and train for call resolution skills?

  • Do you communicate customer call resolution expectations throughout new hire training?

  • Do you emphasize how customer service and call resolution financially impacts the company?

  • Do your Agents feel that the training helps them improve their call resolution?

  • Do you mentor or job shadow new Agents?

  • Do you effectively use technology to train Agents for resolving calls?

  • Based on QA and customer survey performance, do you adapt training to make call resolution improvements?

  • Do you involve supervisors in new hire and refresher call resolution training?

  • How do you determine Agent knowledge or call resolution issues?

  • Do you use a blended approach (e.g., simulations, role-playing, classroom, and QA) for customer service or call resolution training?

  • Do you train Agents on the best and worst call center customer service stories? 

  • Does your Agent training have a positive FCR and call resolution impact?

Quick Related Links

First Call Resolution  Call Resolution Delivery Model  Agent Source of Error  VoC Software 

Agent Coaching  Worst vs. Best Performing Agents