The wealth of information available to consumers on the Internet is creating better informed shoppers, which in turn is increasing the need for well-trained customer call center agents.
The wealth of information available to consumers on the Internet is creating better informed shoppers, which in turn is increasing the need for well-trained customer call center agents, retailers and call center operators tell Internet Retailer.
At !nPulse Response Group Inc., which handles call center operations for web, direct-response TV marketing and other direct marketing for Bose Corp.’s direct marketing group, Sears, Roebuck and Co.’s Sears Direct division, Philips Electronics and others, the length of training that call-center agents go through has doubled since the company started eight years ago, says John Stones, founder and executive vice president of the call center outsource company based in Phoenix, Ariz. “Buyers are becoming more informed and as a result, we have continued to improve our sales training program,” he says. !nPulse Response is the former Aftermarket Co. “It takes 14 days now just to get them to a base level to start handling phone calls,” he says.
Tech Depot, a unit of Office Depot Inc., puts agents through a 16-week training program that includes such basics as how to deal with customers on the phone, product information, vendor specifications as well as advanced training such as how to write account plans for customers and how to manage an account. “It’s much different from what it was four or five years ago,” president Bruce Martin says. “Then, an agent might have gotten a week’s training on how to use the system and it was off to the phones. But that’s not good enough any more.”
Continuing education is particularly crucial when selling technology products, retailers say. “The training never stops because with technology, there are always new products, techniques and integration issues,” says Monica Luechtefeld, executive vice president of e-commerce for Office Depot. “Our call center reps meet multiple times a week with manufacturers.”