How to Quickly Onboard New Call Center Workers in Times of Crisis

CSR undergoing training

Derek Jones, VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas at Deputy outlines the steps call centers need to take for quick onboarding of new employees.

Facing a crisis is inevitable in every industry, and the key to facing the time of crisis effectively is preparation. Businesses who fail to create an actionable crisis onboarding plan set themselves for failure. Nowadays, the world is facing the most significant shutdown in history called COVID-19, and the fact is we haven’t been prepared to face a global pandemic that, in a matter of weeks, changes everything.

During these times, call centers are experiencing huge spikes in income calls, and it’s not a surprise that even the most prominent companies face difficulties. For instance, customers who’re trying to reach the most influential banks such as Wells Fargo & Co., or Bank of America experiences up to three hours of hold or connection issues.

It is evident that call centers hold the first line during the crisis, and it’s crucial to prepare your business to handle a surprisingly high surge in calls. Since the volume of calls will most likely grow, you have to plan a quick onboarding of new workers to support the business in tough times.

Here are 5 actionable tips you can implement now to quickly onboard new call center workers in times of crisis.

#1- Create a Knowledge Database

If you’re handling hundreds of customers on a regular day, it’s important you can solve their problems or misunderstandings fast to provide excellent customer service. That’s where a creative knowledge database comes handy and here are a few tips for creating an adequate knowledge base:

  • Study your audience and learn about their needs
  • Analyze the most common problems or questions your customers face and provide a detailed solution in the form of FAQ
  • Always create templates that will help your call center workers to standardize their answers
  • Create a structure and organize your knowledge base. If you’re supporting your customers on how to use your all-in-one SEO tool, don’t forget to categorize your knowledge base for easier and quicker access to information. For example, ‘off-page SEO’ -> ‘link building’ -> ‘no-follow backlinks’. That way, your workers can immediately access the specialized knowledge database which will increase the speed of solving customer’s problems
  • Create different roles and permissions which ensures that not everyone can publish into the knowledge base without the prior review
  • Listen to your customer’s feedback and continuously improve

#2- Introduction to Key Tools

Every call center is different, so are the work processes and tools that support these. Introduce new employees to the fundamental tools from the very beginnings, so they understand how to use these tools effectively in supporting their day-to-day activities. For instance, call centers lose resources on scheduling shifts, managing teams, and employee absence. If your business uses automated shift scheduling systems or centralized communication tool, it’s crucial to explain to new employees how to use these tools effectively.

It can take time for new workers to get used to a new tool or working environment, so it’s crucial to provide them with the knowledge that actively supports in understanding new tools and its features. You can create detailed video tutorials by senior call center workers who explain the essential tool features or tool walkthrough showing real scenarios and ways to utilize key features.

#3- Implement an Interactive Training

During the crisis, aim to prepare new employees as fast as possible to serve a spike in demand efficiently. It requires specialized training, but since time is a critical factor in every crisis, you want to have an interactive training system in place. Consider implementing an interactive training system where the new employees face specific real-life scenarios and have to find a quick solution. Learning by doing is one of the critical aspects of rapid onboarding in times of crisis. There are many creative ways to train your new employees in a dynamic environment during the crisis.

One of the ways to implement interactive training is by using a knowledge database and select the most common questions, problems, and scenarios. Once you’ve identified these, you can perform a set of various situations that present different queries and new employees have to solve it efficiently. In the end, you can even implement a feedback or rating system that helps employees to learn from their mistakes and provide excellent customer service in the future.

#4- Use Gamification to Increase Learning Motivation

Gamification is quite a new concept of learning that increases motivation, satisfaction, engagement, competition, and participation of students. If you’re looking to train highly motivated and engaged employees, which is crucial in crisis times, you should consider spicing up the education process by adding a game feel to it. You have to be creative if you want to onboard highly talented and motivated people to your call center, and here are a few ideas:

  • Instead of merely giving the grades, introduce new employees with an experience points system which increases the sense of accomplishment and purpose
  • Use the badge system that proves to be useful in learning new skills on major e-learning platforms such as Khan Academy
  • Spice things up and create a tournament for new employees
  • Introduce leaderboards

#5- Encourage Peer Mentoring

Call centers are a fast-paced and dynamic work environment where employees usually work alone on solving customers’ problems, which can lead to a feeling of isolation. It can further lead to an overall sense of insecurity, which is counter-productive for call centers. Encourage peer mentoring in your company as it won’t only help new employees solve problems more efficiently, but also it gives a sense of organizational culture and a deeper understanding of business processes, which results in higher motivation and satisfaction.

Be Creative and Act Fast in Times of Crisis

In times of crisis, it is crucial to act fast and have a creative onboarding process. Establishing a self-sustaining information flow is essential, especially for new employees who might feel overwhelmed by the new environment and amount of information. The interactive and gamified learning approach can increase employees’ happiness, satisfaction, and motivation, which is critical in handling the crisis.

 About the Author

Derek JonesDerek Jones spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication.  With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.

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