Editor's Note: The post has been updated. Jump over to the more recent version.
Answering support calls for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Agents never know what a customer will say, and each call is different. That’s why the best way to train an agent for voice support is to take things slow. At Zendesk, new agents don’t answer calls for one to two months after they're hired.
Once live, phone agents do a lot at once: actively listen, soothe customers, create tickets, and research answers—often at breakneck speed. Agents should feel confident before flying solo, so here are a few tips to help ease them in:
- Spend time onboarding. New agents should receive standard onboarding and product training, followed by more intensive customer service training on the tools required to provide support.
- Begin with email. Before diving into phone support, agents must be adept at creating tickets, searching for product information, and using your customer service tool. For this reason, it's a good idea to have phone agents begin with email support. This gives them time to learn, research, and dig into your product and support tools. Their online tasks should come as second nature while they listen to customers over the phone.
- Listen in. Next, have new agents listen in on calls and shadow other phone agents to learn how they speak and respond to customers.
- Let the agent weigh in. Always check in with agents before putting them on the phone and don’t push. It’s important that the agent feels comfortable.
- Return voicemails. When the agent is ready, have them start by handling voicemails. Without the pressure of a live call, the agent can take time to listen to the message and figure out what the customer needs. Then they can research the answer before returning the call. Someone with more experience should be nearby or listening in to jump in with coaching or support.
Always give your agents the green light to put the customer on hold if they need more time to find the answer or to ask for help.
For more tips on getting started with voice support, read the complete guide to conquering your fear of phone support