Contact Center

Guide to Agent Onboarding: 5 Key Steps to Get New Agents Up to Speed

Rimlee Patgiri
August 25, 2023
12
 mins read

Last modified on

August 25, 2023

Call centers onboard agents only to find them leaving after a short period of time. There are many reasons for high attrition in contact centers

In 2021 and 2022, the call center agent turnover rate reached its highest level, with figures of 35% and 38%, respectively.

Be it any industry, from new real estate agents, SaaS, tourism, insurance, and banking to telecommunication; contact centers need one common requirement polished - an engaging agent onboarding program. 

Onboarding agent program solves agent churn, and a well-trained agent is the first milestone to providing exceptional customer service. 

Let’s help you build a smart onboarding and mentorship program.

What is Call Center Agent Onboarding?

Contact center agent onboarding is the process of integrating and training new agents hired to work in a call center. It involves orientation prospective agents to the company's culture and policies. 

They undergo comprehensive training in communication skills, client service techniques, and relevant technology. It also involves the process of educating agents about compliance and performance expectations. 

The onboarding process aims to effectively prepare new agents for their roles and create a skilled and motivated workforce that delivers exceptional client service. This results in improved business outcomes.

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Why is Effective Agent Onboarding Essential For Call Center Success?

Importance of agent onboarding process
Importance of agent onboarding process

Effective agent onboarding is crucial for call center success. This section explores its impact on the entire process of agent onboarding. Let's delve into each aspect to understand its significance.

1. Understanding the Impact

Agent onboarding sets the foundation for an agent's success within the organization and significantly impacts the call center's overall performance. 

Effective onboarding programs help agents gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to handle client interactions, thereby positively impacting the call center's efficiency and reputation.

2. The Onboarding Difference

An effective onboarding plan can significantly impact an agent's performance and job satisfaction. 

When reps receive proper ongoing training, support, and assets during onboarding, they become more familiar with the call center's procedures, tools, and products or services they handle

This reduces the learning curve, allowing them to handle client inquiries more efficiently and confidently from the beginning.

3. Boosting Performance

Properly onboarded agents are better equipped to handle various client scenarios and provide appropriate solutions. They are more likely to meet performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) set by the call center management. 

Effective onboarding ensures that agents clearly understand their roles, responsibilities, and targets, enabling them to work towards achieving call center objectives more effectively.

5 tips for onboarding agents in call centers. 

4. Retaining Talent

A well-structured onboarding plan helps in agent retention. A new agent who feels supported, engaged, and valued during onboarding will likely remain committed to the call center and its goals. 

On the other hand, poorly onboarded agents who struggle with their roles and lack the necessary training materials and resources may become disenchanted and leave the organization. This leads to high turnover rates, which can be costly for the call center.

5. Customer Satisfaction Starts Here

Agents play a crucial role in shaping the customer experience. When well-trained and onboarded effectively, agents can provide better customer service. Knowledgeable and confident agents can handle client issues more efficiently, leading to quicker resolutions and happier clients

Customer satisfaction levels are directly linked to the quality of service agents provide, making effective onboarding a vital factor in achieving high customer satisfaction rates.

6. Cutting Costs, Boosting ROI

Investing in a comprehensive onboarding program may seem like an added expense, but it ultimately helps cut costs and boost return on investment (ROI). 

Effective onboarding reduces the time and assets spent on constant supervision and retraining of underperforming agents. 

It minimizes the risk of errors, client complaints, and the need for repeat interactions, thus optimizing call center operations and improving efficiency.

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5 Key Steps To A Successful Agent Onboarding Process

Creating an agent onboarding process
Creating an agent onboarding process

1. Defining the Onboarding Objectives

Objectives of agent onboarding process
Objectives of agent onboarding process

The first step is to define the onboarding objectives. What do you want new hires to know and be able to do by the end of the onboarding process?

This will help you create a coaching program tailored to their specific needs.

2. Streamlining Documentation and Preparations

The next step is to streamline the documentation and preparations for onboarding. This will help ensure that the onboarding is efficient and that new agents have all the information they need to succeed.

Things you can do to streamline documentation and preparations include:

  • Creating a comprehensive onboarding checklist
  • Gathering all of the necessary training materials in one place
  • Creating a process for onboarding new hires
  • Coaching existing employees on how to onboard new agents

3. Implementing Comprehensive Training Programs

The third step is to implement comprehensive training programs. This will help agents to learn the skills they need to be successful in their roles. The training program should be tailored to the specific needs of the reps. It should include both practical and conceptual training. 

The conceptual training should cover topics such as the company's products and services, policies and procedures, and best practices for client service. The practical training should allow new agents to practice their learning skills.

4. Pairing New Agents with Mentors or Buddies

The fourth step is to pair seasoned agents with mentors or buddies. This will help the agents to get the aid they need to succeed.

The mentors or buddies should be experienced agents who can answer agents' questions and help them to learn the ropes. Mentors or buddies should also be able to provide feedback to agents on their performance.

5. Ongoing Support and Feedback Mechanisms

The fifth step is to provide ongoing support and feedback mechanisms. This will help agents continue learning and growing in their roles.

The ongoing support mechanisms can include things like:

  • Regular check-ins with new agents
  • Opportunities for brand new agents to ask questions
  • Feedback on new agents' performance
Create a successful agent onboarding process.

How Can Technology Improve The Agent Onboarding Journey?

Improving call center agent onboarding journey with technolog
Improving call center agent onboarding journey with technolog

Technology has revolutionized agent onboarding recently, including streamlining the process, providing effective training, enabling accurate skill assessment, etc. 

Let's explore some key technological advancements that contribute to improving the agent onboarding journey:

1. Automated Onboarding Workflows

Automating the onboarding can significantly reduce administrative burdens and ensure a consistent and standardized agent experience. 

According to research by HR.com, organizations that use automated onboarding workflows experience 80% higher retention rates of new hires within the first year. 

Automated workflows can efficiently manage documentation, task assignments, and compliance checks, expediting the onboarding timeline and reducing the chances of errors. 

This allows HR and training teams to focus on providing agents with a more personalized and supportive experience. 

2. Virtual Training and E-Learning

Virtual training and e-learning platforms have become increasingly popular for onboarding new agents, especially in remote or distributed work environments.

According to a survey by Brandon Hall Group, 98% of companies plan to use virtual classrooms for employee training. These platforms offer flexibility, allowing agents to access training assets conveniently.” - Source

Furthermore, virtual training reduces costs associated with in-person training sessions, such as travel and venue expenses. Companies can also record training sessions for future reference, enabling agents to revisit the material whenever needed. 

3. Interactive Training Modules

Interactive training modules engage agents more effectively than traditional static materials. Incorporating multimedia elements like videos, quizzes, and simulations can increase information retention and make learning more enjoyable. 

"According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, interactive learning improves retention rates by 20% compared to passive learning methods."

According to a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, interactive learning improves retention rates by 20% compared to passive learning methods. 

Call centers can utilize interactive modules to teach product knowledge, client service techniques, and call-handling skills, leading to better-prepared agents who are more confident in their roles.

4. Gamification for Learning

Gamification involves applying game elements and mechanics to non-game contexts, such as learning and coaching. Integrating gamification in onboarding can boost engagement and motivation among new reps.

Gamification aids in encouraging the agent onboarding process
Gamification aids in encouraging the agent onboarding process

Call centers can use gamified elements like badges, points, and leaderboards to reward agents for completing training milestones or demonstrating exceptional performance during simulations. This fosters healthy competition and encourages agents to participate in their learning journey actively.

5. AI-driven Skill Assessment

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be employed to assess agent skills and knowledge more accurately and objectively. AI-powered assessment tools can analyze agent responses, communication styles, and problem-solving abilities to determine their strengths and areas for improvement.

AI-driven auditing or agent onboarding performance assessment
AI-driven auditing or agent onboarding performance assessment

Conversation intelligence softwares like Convin provides AI for skill assessment reducing ramp-up time by 60% while increasing the accuracy of candidate evaluation. 

By incorporating AI-driven skill assessments into the onboarding, call centers can better match agents to specific roles and allocate training resources more efficiently. 

6. Remote Onboarding Capabilities

Call center onboarding capabilities are essential with the rise of remote work arrangements. Video conferencing platforms, document sharing, and collaboration tools enable call centers to conduct virtual onboarding sessions seamlessly. 

According to a study by Owl Labs, 77% of remote employees reported higher productivity due to the flexibility of remote work”. 

Remote onboarding allows call centers to access a broader talent pool, save on office space costs, and accommodate agents located in different geographical areas.

7. Knowledge Base Access

Knowledge repository for successful agent onboarding
Knowledge repository for successful agent onboarding

Providing new reps with access to a comprehensive knowledge base is crucial for their onboarding journey. A well-organized knowledge base containing FAQs, product guides, and troubleshooting tips empowers agents to find solutions to client inquiries independently. 

“A survey by eConsultancy found that 70% of clients prefer to use a company's website or self-service option before contacting client support.” -  eConsultancy

By giving employees access to a knowledge base, call centers can improve first-call resolution rates and reduce the need for escalation to higher tiers, resulting in a smoother support process.

8. Performance Tracking and Analytics

Performance tracking and analytics aids call center agent onboarding
Performance tracking and analytics aids call center agent onboarding

Technology allows call centers to track agent performance and gather valuable analytics during onboarding. Call monitoring and recording tools and performance dashboards provide insights into agent-client interactions. 

This allows supervisors to offer constructive feedback and identify areas for improvement. Call centers can continuously enhance agent performance and client service quality by leveraging performance tracking and analytics.

Create a successful agent onboarding process

Building an Agent Onboarding Checklist

An agent onboarding checklist is a document that outlines the steps that need to be taken to onboard a new agent. It helps ensure that the onboarding is efficient and that agents have all the information they need to prosper.

Here is an example of an agent onboarding checklist.

Example of how you can create a new agent onboarding checklist
Example of how you can create a new agent onboarding checklist

Download our FREE call center QA checklist

Perfecting Onboarding For Your Contact Center Agents With Automation

A contact center agent performs multiple roles, including negotiating deals, collaborating with team members, updating customer information and records, and upselling or cross-selling when appropriate, to mention a few. 

Call centers can find the sweet spot between agent performance and client satisfaction with the right agent onboarding solution. Get on a demo to explore more about the best agent onboarding solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is onboarding for a job?

Employee onboarding integrates new hires into an organization's culture. It begins upon job acceptance, lasting weeks to months, and aims to make newcomers feel welcomed, supported, and ready to succeed.

2. How do I onboard a new agent?

Onboarding a new client involves a series of steps to ensure a smooth and successful transition into a working relationship. 

Here's a step-by-step guide on onboarding a new client:

  1. Introduction and Welcome
  2. Gather Information
  3. Set Clear Objectives
  4. Share Onboarding Documentation
  5. Assign a Point of Contact
  6. Provide Onboarding Materials
  7. Initiate Training (if applicable)
  8. Establish Communication Channels
  9. Regular Check-ins
  10. Feedback and Adjustments
  11. Celebrate Milestones
  12. Continuous Support

3. What is sales onboarding?

Sales onboarding is the process of training and integrating newly hired sales representatives into an organization. It equips them with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to sell products or services effectively, understand the company's sales processes, and meet their sales targets.

4. Define onboarding agent meaning.

Onboarding agent refers to the process of integrating a newly hired agent into a call center or client service team. It involves providing them with the necessary training, assets, and support to perform their role effectively and align with the organization's goals and culture.

5. What is the insurance agent onboarding process?

Insurance agent onboarding is a comprehensive process where companies recruit skilled agents, provide thorough training on products and services, set performance expectations, and handle the necessary paperwork. 

This prepares agents to excel in engaging clients, negotiating deals, and delivering top-notch service, making them valuable assets.

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