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Consumers demanding more knowledgeable call centers

Call center incentive programs are a straightforward way to encourage workers to develop better customer service skills.

Websites and mobile apps have given consumers a depth of knowledge about products and services they are interested in purchasing. As a result, many feel that they know more than the staff of the companies they are interacting with.

A new survey by BT and Avaya found that 80 percent of customers feel call center agents are not equipped to answer their questions. Additionally, 85 percent of those survey said they were often put on hold because the agent didn't know what to say. This perception should push companies to address training issues within their contact centers.

Call center incentive programs are a straightforward way to encourage workers to develop better customer service skills. Recognizing the workers who are able to provide answers and resolve problems quickly should motivate others to learn more about products and services to better serve their patrons. Failing to handle customer issues effectively can lead to frustration for both parties and a drop in sales and customer retention.

"Consumers are more connected and better informed than ever before, so when they do call – or use another channel such as webchat or video – they expect to deal with someone who knows what they're talking about," Andrew Small, vice president of BT Contact, said in a statement "When organizations fail to connect their customers to the right agent, it's not only frustrating for the consumer but also for the staff involved."

Call centers need more training
Good training programs give staff members the confidence they need to answer complex issues from customers. The ability to solve challenging issues can also increase staff engagement, which may lead to higher productivity, Business 2 Community reported. Incentive programs are a good way to generate excitement and high participation in training programs, and the rewards can reinforce the desired behavior.

Rewarding employees who show a strong knowledge of company products recognizes the effort that acquiring such knowledge takes. The BT and Avaya survey showed that 70 percent of callers feel they already know more than company staff. This highlights the need for highly informed agents able to handle calls directly. The survey also found that consumers increasingly valu​e convenience over price. They are willing to purchase from companies able to address their concerns immediately.

Employee reward programs allow businesses to reinforce the need for all call center employees to understand products, services and the audience. Recognizing the agents who make the commitment to improve their knowledge will generate better service for customers.

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