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Frequently Asked Questions for Soft Skills Training

By: George Simons on May 23rd, 2019

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Frequently Asked Questions for Soft Skills Training

People Skills

When you think of what makes a great customer service agent, what are the first traits that come to mind? It probably isn’t efficiency – that’s just a function of the work.

Evaluating your call center representatives on whether they can answer the phone would be like rating doctors on whether they can treat you. Of course, they can. That’s their job. Like doctors, the way contact center people differ is in the WAY they do their jobs. The good ones have soft skills.

 

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are emotional abilities that allow a person to connect with other people. Similar to emotional intelligence, someone who has soft skills will be able to notice the emotions of those around them and respond appropriately as well as empathetically. Roughly 85% of professional success stems from the correct use of soft skills.

 

Why are Soft Skills Important?

Building up soft skills is crucial for any customer service role, whether on the phone, in writing or face-to-face. For your Customer Service Representative (CSR) or agent, soft skills are at the core of success. Because they communicate over the phone, they lack the visual assist that comes from reading body language. Connecting through careful listening, skilled questioning, and careful word selection are needed skills to replace the lost visual cues. In customer service, many of those customers may be emotional when they call. Late packages, receiving the wrong item, having a product or service not perform as expected – these instances are frustrating and have a tendency to make your customers angry. However, if your call center agents have soft skills training, they will be better able to manage those emotions and help your customers resolve their issues.

As you begin to explore different soft skills training options, you may have questions. We compiled a list of the most common questions asked when making this decision for your call center.

 

Can You Learn Soft Skills?

You can absolutely learn soft skills – and so can your entire staff. All of us have some degree of soft skills. But few of us are experts. The good news is, they can be learned. However, like so many other skills, simply learning about soft skills is not enough to be able to apply them effectively. You need a chance to practice your soft skills and continued training to keep adding to your abilities.

 

What Soft Skills Do Call Center Agents Need?

Your customer service representatives need to be able to connect with your customer. To do this, they need the ability to communicate empathy with each caller. Your call center agents also need to be able to focus on what your customers are saying, listen to their needs, and ask the right questions. At GCS, we make sure to train our agents on these soft skills in particular because we find it makes them more effective and improves customer satisfaction.

 

What is the Importance of Soft Skills Training?

Soft skills allow agents to communicate better and achieve better outcomes, but that’s not all. There is also inherent value in helping your associates step outside of their comfort zones and explore different ways to be more effective in all their relationships. Improve communication, not only with customers, but with co-workers, family and in the community.  Also, keep in mind that soft skills can act as a foundation for learning additional skills because they help improve the emotional intelligence of your employees.

 


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What are the Benefits of Dedicated Soft Skills Training?

Dedicated soft skills training brings about several benefits for your company. First, your agents will gain more insight and become more confident when handling, not only the difficult calls, but all customer service calls.  When using these skills, accuracy increases, issues are fewer and escalations are reduced. Their day goes more quickly and smoothly. Morale improves, coaching is easier, turnover is reduced and personnel issues are not as severe.

Over time, this combination of factors can increase employee happiness along with customer satisfaction. The results are reflected in the metrics. Higher Customer Satisfaction scores (CSAT, Net Promoter, Social Rankings, etc); shorter length calls (AHT) and more completed outcomes (higher FCR). All inputs that lower cost and increase revenue and loyalty.

 

Will Soft Skills Training Help Me Make More Money?

Every year, companies lose roughly $250 billion due to the actions of their employees. The National Safety Council attributes that sum to decreased productivity as well as increased turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness – all surefire signs of unhappy employees. Many companies also experience a loss in revenue from employee burnout and medical insurance costs that stem from stress. Soft skills training minimizes all those issues. When your call center has received proper soft skills training, the entire team will be better prepared to handle the stressors of customer service effectively.

 

How Do I Know When to Take a Training Course?

There is never a wrong time to implement soft skills training. In general, if your organization is looking to take its customer services skills to another level or if you notice a knowledge gap amongst your agents that are impacting the outcomes of customer service calls, it is time to start doing something. The most common “events” we see that prompt such training are:

  • Initiative or desire to focus the organization on Customer Service. Often includes any customer-facing employee.
  • Need to establish a baseline, or expectations, for ALL agents, new and tenured, in the center.
  • Provide a consistent level of training for new employees.
  • Before (hopefully not after) a major customer snafu that goes viral.
  • When there is limited internal training resources or expertise.

However, industry best practices prescribe a greater frequency. Ideally, your agents should get soft skills training before they ever reach the call center floor. Then provide frequent coaching and refresher courses.

 

Which Training Type is Right for Me?

Soft skills training is a term that covers several different course formats. Let’s go over each one in turn.

Online Training

Online soft skills training is easy and convenient. It can be done from anywhere and whenever your agents have time. It is also easy to scale. This flexibility is beneficial and cost-effective for most organizations, especially for smaller teams lacking dedicated training staff.

It is ideal as a first-day course for new associates to cover before moving onto the technical piece. Besides providing a baseline of expected performance, it provides a universal language for ongoing coaching. Online soft skills training works well for refresher coaching and skill building. The use of video, work-a-long activities and end-of-module assessments are effective in many circumstances.

On-site Training

On-site soft skills training gives your agents more of a hands-on experience. Group activities, like building a team glossary and role play are impactful for practicing and internalizing the skills. Because live training includes face-to-face interaction, it offers a more interactive experience for the agents.

Blended Options

Luckily, you don’t have to choose one or the other. We recommend starting with in-person training to cover your existing workforce. It helps by explaining soft skills concepts fully and giving your agents the ability to ask questions and receive feedback on their practice sessions. Once this foundation is in place, both large and small call centers can then use online training to allow their agents to review skills and improve their performance  while working at their respective paces.

 

Should my Entire Team Take a Soft Skills Training Course?

Your entire team should have soft skills training – not just your agents. Include supervisors, quality control and managers. Set the example that the entire organization is committed to delivering effective interaction at all levels. When you provide soft skills training courses for everyone, you will increase the professionalism and awareness of your whole team. In turn, the entire work culture will improve.

 

What is “Say This-Not That, Most of the Time”?

“Say This. Not That, most of the time”™ is a GCS training approach. We designed it to help any call center agent become more customer-focused in person, on the phone and in writing. In practice, this means making effective word choices, responding with empathy (even while under pressure), and adding value to each interaction.

Its three Core Modules cover 14 points of effective soft skills practices and approaches. It provides the “Why” along with the “How”. The videos demonstrate both the correct and incorrect approaches to multiple scenarios. The accompanying worksheets allow the trainee to follow along, practice the techniques and identify the best words to use for their situation. An assessment at the end of each module confirms understanding before advancing to the next. At the end of the training, a certificate can be printed and proudly displayed.

The entire course is contained in an online Learning Management System (LMS). Each student has their own log-in and password, while the Supervisor can track the progress of the team through an on-line dashboard.


What is Included in the Training?

The GCS training course includes Three Modules:

  • Mastering Word Selection
  • Mastering Conversation
  • Listening and Questioning Skills

The Modules cover topics such as:

  • Selecting the best word for the situation
  • Connecting with Empathy
  • Writing with Style
  • Being an effective Listener
  • Diffusing stressful situations

And More!

 

Will the Course be Online or In-person?

GCS offers "Say This. Not That." in an easy to use on-line format suitable for most situations. In addition, we provide, on-site and web-based live training. The material can also be licensed for center use. All versions include videos, activity handouts, and resource guides.

 

How Long Does Soft Skills Training Take?

GCS’ on-line training modules are each designed to be completed in 30 minutes or less. They can be accessed at any time.

Live training usually takes 3-4 hours due to an expansion of the concepts and more hands on and group learning. Typically we split teams and provide two sessions during the day to keep the phones covered..

 

Can I Monitor my Team’s Progress?

Yes. GCS online soft skills training features a dashboard that allows your employees to track their own progression through the program. Also, it allows management to easily track the progress and results of each individual team member. You can even download the stats for training verification.

 

How Much Does Training Cost?

The cost of soft skills training is based on the type of training you pick. The online version begins at $259 for an individual with group discounts available.

Live training depends on the format (in-person or web-based), the number of participants and if additional topics are desired.  Email or call us for a quote or to discuss your needs.

 

How Much Does the GCS Online Soft Skills Training Cost?

Overall, the cost of the GCS online soft skills training will depend on how many team members will be taking the course. It is only $259 for one person with price breaks for additional users. Subscriptions and licensing are available as well.

 

I Have More Questions About Soft Skills Training. Can I Speak to Someone at GCS?

Of course! Feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 1-844-324-5427.

 


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