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Axonify Executive Interview

Christine Tutssel, Co-founder, Axonify

How to Navigate the Learning Curve for Seasonal Agents

Christine Tutssel, Co-founder of Axonify, discusses why it's critical for call & contact centers to focus on appropriately equipping seasonal frontline staff ahead of peak seasons in order for them to provide a high-level customer experience and manage the increase in call volumes.

Q: When is the best time for organizations to start hiring seasonal agents?

A: Hiring seasonal contact center agents needs to begin as early as possible. New agents need time to accept the job, onboard, and train to keep up with holiday call volume spikes. Consumers are dealing with high inflation and supply chain disruptions this holiday season, so contact center agents need to prepare for high pressure situations. Understanding how to navigate these situations takes time, so it is up to the organization to provide optimal training programs where they learn brand messaging, customer service and product details. If companies want to achieve success, their seasonal agents need to learn how to help.

Q: How can companies ensure proper training for inexperienced staff?

A: Managers should prioritize supporting their new hires immediately. It takes time to learn company details and process and adjust to a new job, especially a high pressure one, so it’s important that managers are as supportive as possible during the onboarding process. 

Next, businesses know that turnover for frontline employees is high, so streamline the process. The last thing your new staff wants to do is sit through long training sessions where they will tune out anyway. Instead, divide your training modules into small, digestible bits. On the first day, start with basics of scheduling, dress code, and technology information. Next, focus on call training essentials like compliance, safety, and basic conversation. The key is to start small so agents will feel comfortable and set up for success. 

Q: How can agents continue to increase their knowledge of their roles as they go?

A: Now that your employees are armed with the basics on the phone, continue the learning process. Some of your agents might be rock stars and have great experience from previous call center jobs. Others might be brand new to the industry and not know a thing about your product. This is why it doesn't make sense to make your new hires sit through customer service courses. Personalized training programs cater to different levels of experience and improve employee development. Microlearning allows agents to learn between calls that can take less than five minutes. Small scale amounts of information have proven to be more effective and easy to remember. What would you rather do? Spend hours in a room hearing about every customer service topic out there, or spend 5 minutes between calls learning as you go? Microlearning saves organizations time and money by only giving agents information they need, like in a short how-to video. Microlearning cuts out time spent relearning things that experienced agents already know, giving them more time to tackle calls and keep business flowing.

Q: How can organizations improve staff morale in a high stress environment?

A: Everyone knows that customer service agents don't have it easy. If a conversation isn't going well, they can't just hang up or walk away. Chances are someone is calling to complain, or they need help. For customer service agents, high stress causes burnout which is already an ongoing problem in the workforce. A recent survey from Salesforce found that 71% of service agents have considered leaving their job in the past six months and 69% are considering leaving customer service roles entirely. So how can organizations prevent this? Add in a bit of fun to your agents' workday! Gamification is effective at easing tensions while improving employee engagement and skills but be conscious of your approach since gamification can backfire and create problems among your staff if it isn’t the right fit. If it is, implementing leaderboards in a central location can add some friendly competition among staff, and incentives like gift cards or "employee of the week" recognition can help agents progress. In the end, it's important to create strategies that work for your team and workplace culture. 

Sources: National Library of Medicine, Salesforce Service Agent Report 2022

About the Author

Christine Tutssel is the co-founder of Axonify and Chief Revenue Officer. Christine manages the company’s global sales organization and partner network. With over 30 years of sales and sales management experience in the high-tech industry, Christine has worked in a variety of market sectors including finance, banking, healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics and retail. With Christine’s go-to-market leadership, Axonify has grown to become the worldwide microlearning market leader with customers in 95 countries around the world.