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Tips to Call Handling Success

Let’s first begin with objection handling.  When handling objections, agents need to have common objection answers prepared, so they can have greater success to overcome them with confidence.  Agents need to role-play common and not so common objections on a frequent basis.  Role –play exercises will help agents remain sharp and confident when they are faced with objections.

The close is the simplest of your agents’ presentation and when the prior steps of the presentation are done correctly, agents should not encounter resistance. The post close is the final step in your presentation and it is vital to cum the conversation up and to lessen the risk of cancellations.  The post close is designed to overcome any “Post Purchase/ Commitment Remorse”.  Post Remorse happens after the agent disengages the call but should be dealt with before the call ends.  Often, I find agents are never trained on post-closing and its a shame because this step helps to eliminate the possibility of the prospect canceling.

Call center training should be ongoing.  When training new recruits, 75% of their time should be devoted on skills and techniques and 25% of their time devoted on product knowledge.  In my 40 years’ experience, I find the opposite to be true.  The product should sell itself and the presenter should deliver their message in a manner that is convincing for the prospect.  I’m a strong advocate on role playing, ongoing monitoring, coaching, and hands-on training.  Team Leaders seem busy doing reports or trouble shooting problems. Most do not spend enough time working side-by-side with their team.  In many call centers, I rarely see the team leader taking over or making calls to help train their team.  Instead, they sit a new agent with a veteran.

Sitting agents with a veteran is not good training practice.  Often, veterans are not doing what they were originally trained to do and have found short cuts.  This “osmosis” type of training only causes new agents to become confused not understanding what is expected of them and quickly they develop bad or inappropriate habits.  The veteran does not always have skills that are transferable.  It is the team leader’s responsibility to ensure new agents are implementing what they have learned in the classroom.

The length of training is primarily dependent on the complexity of the process (i.e. product, service, or offer).  It’s always recommended that your new agents first learn to handle simple tasks.  You can train your new recruit perfectly in the class room, but when spending too much time in the classroom instead of the agents performing and perfecting their craft on the floor, this will increase an agent’s call reluctance.  Call reluctance is difficult to overcome, because it’s caused by fear of the unknown.

I developed an A-B-C-D plan.  This plan is an excellent way to train new recruits and incorporate a career path for everyone in the call center.  For example, the new recruit is considered my A level Agent.  The A level agents receive close supervision and hands-on training until they can achieve minimum goals.  Once the goals have been achieved, usually within a 2 to 4-week time frame, the new agent is graduated to the B level.  This level agent requires close supervision and some hand holding until they are consistent and producing positive results.  Often this level of agent is contented to remain here indefinitely.  But in every call center there are agents who thrive on a challenge and have goals to advance.  This type of agent is promoted to a C level agent.

The C level agent is able to handle objections and customer’s resistance with ease.  These agents have a higher conversion rate and happy to work on a base plus production compensation if given the opportunity.

There is still one more level of agent, which is the D agent.  The D level agent only comprise of about 5-10% of your entire center.  These agents are the ‘cream of the crop’.  You want to treat these agents differently and offer more incentive to keep them happy.  The D level agent, if not given special treatment and compensation, will leave to work somewhere else where they are more appreciated.  Some call these agents the “prima-donnas” of the center, but they are actually your stand-outs, your star performers and you need them.

Some of the D level agent will make good team leaders, trainers and managers, however not all fit into that mold.  Many of the D level agents prefer being left alone and are not into teamwork.  These agents will abide by the rules and guidelines as anyone else is required, however they are just in it for the money and the thrill of the challenge.  It’s best to give these agents more of your challenging accounts, otherwise they become bored and may seek more challenging opportunities.  The D level agent does not require much supervision and they should be isolated from the rest of the agents.

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