At Zenarate, we’ve developed a unique and, in my experience, the most effective approach to improving agent training. Every day, our global customers use our AI Coach to immerse customer-facing agents in life-like conversation, screen, and chat simulations to master high-impact topics they will face with live customers. We like to say we’re the “flight simulator” for customer care training and upskilling.
During my five years at Zenarate, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of the most customer-focused brands in the world. From banking and healthcare to travel and hospitality brands, my experience includes leading Zenarate’s customer success and services team. In my role, I work closely with clients to identify, build and deploy high-frequency, high-impact topics using AI Conversation Simulation. This process supports various areas within each organization, including pre-hire screening, bringing new hires up to speed, working with tenured agents, closing skill gaps, and developing managers.
Our goal is to create exceptional simulations that improve our clients’ people.
In my first entry for the Zenarate Insights blog, I will share some observations based on my client experience. I’ve noticed three significant challenges that contact center leaders face today.
- Balancing compliance and strategic call skills is a delicate act. To ensure adherence to regulatory rules and company policies, contact center leaders are prioritizing strategic communication skills within their teams seriously. The challenge they face is finding the right blend where agents can confidently navigate conversations and resolve customer issues effectively, all while staying within the bounds of compliance. This balance is critical in fostering operational excellence and customer satisfaction.
- It’s imperative to look beyond QA metrics. Sure, hitting QA metrics is essential to customer satisfaction and improving the bottom-line efficiency of the contact center. However, soft skills like empathy and active listening cannot be overlooked. Our customers know these skills allow agents to connect with customers on a human level, understand their concerns, and provide solutions that meet their needs. While quantitative metrics are important for operational success, the qualitative aspects driven by empathy and active listening can greatly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, making them equally, if not more, vital in the long run.
- Accelerating the learning curve for new hires is always a challenging task. The faster a new agent can reach proficiency, the sooner they can deliver high-quality customer service. Developing strategies to speed up proficiency levels to boost your team’s overall productivity and customer satisfaction rates is crucial. Our clients invest in innovation across the customer care spectrum, from workflow automation and self-directed customer care to AI-driven training programs and more hands-on mentorship initiatives. New hires need ongoing support to reach their full potential.
- Addressing performance skill gaps between top performers and those lagging is a significant challenge. A good portion of the continued investment in time and resources for upskilling lagging performers aims to boost their productivity and confidence, lowering employee turnover rates. A well-rounded team with minimized skill gaps is crucial for maintaining high customer service and the perception of your brand.
To address the issues I’ve outlined above, it’s not surprising that I advocate a commitment to employee development for new hires and tenured agents. Like many leading companies that embrace continuous improvement, we see contact center leaders building training and skills development programs focused on continuous training for all agents to improve performance and reduce attrition rates.
Before we move on, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the move to automated customer care. Yes, automation offers cost savings for handling routine customer issues, but it has significant limitations. Simply put, when customers have complex issues to resolve, it will always, and I mean ALWAYS, require a human touch. Starting conversations with a chatbot can start off fine but ultimately lead to customer frustration.
As we see it here at Zenarate and what our customers share with us daily, the future of contact centers isn’t about replacing human agents with automation but deploying platforms and tools that support agents in becoming better at helping customers.
Now, let’s delve into three best practices for better training through AI Simulation Training based on my experience at Zenarate and working with leading global brands.
- Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): The great thing about AI Simulation Training is the ability to hone in on key objectives for agent training. We start by identifying the top KPIs that need improvement. The most value-driven KPIs we see with customers include speed-to-proficiency, first-call resolution, CSAT (customer satisfaction) and soft skills, such as empathy and active listening. By focusing on these areas, you can prioritize training efforts and make the most significant impact.
- Develop High-Impact Simulations: Our customers also love how agent training with life-like simulations develops top performers through improved confidence and less anxiety as they practice before engaging with live customers. With AI Coach, you can build high-impact call and chat scenarios and allow agents to practice, solve problems and make mistakes against the most challenging issues.
- Embrace Continuous Learning: As mentioned earlier, our customers are increasingly committed to continuous learning as a crucial element for developing top-performing agents. AI Coach provides the agility to continuously evolve your training program to close skill gaps and ensure agents’ skills remain relevant as industry dynamics and customer needs change.
At Zenarate, we’re transforming how customer-facing agents learn and perform for good. Seeing firsthand how AI Coach develops top-performing agents that improve customer satisfaction and brand loyalty for our customers is amazing. These are some of the best practices we at Zenarate have learned. From the feedback we’ve received from our customers, it’s working, and regardless of your industry, it can work for you.
BS Business Administration, Leeds School of Business, from the University of Colorado. Holly leads our high-energy Customer Success team delivering the most Customer obsessed services & support in enterprise software.