What is Agent Onboarding?
The purpose of agent onboarding is to help your new hires become satisfied, contributing members of your customer service team as quickly as possible. It aims to keep your new hires invested in the company and provide them with valuable resources to help maximize their effectiveness.
Employee onboarding is a comprehensive, ongoing process involving both management and new hires that can last anywhere from three months to a year – from the interview stage,
all the way up till they have reached their full productivity-potential and are experts at the company. During this process, your live chat agents will learn the following:
What they can expect from your company
What the company expects from them
What resources are available to them
How management will support them
What are the Benefits of Installing a Live Chat Onboarding Program?
Research shows that nearly one out of three new hires look for a new job within their first six on the job. Among millennials, that percentage is thought to be even higher.
An effective live chat onboarding program will help your new hires become engaged with company culture and reduce the risk of quick turnover. It will also reinforce your company’s commitment to helping employees grow and foster a supportive relationship between new hires and management. The result? Increased confidence and job satisfaction amongst live chat agents, resulting in higher agent productivity and a low turnover rate – saving you the cost of having to recruit, hire, and train new agents, should your agents quit.
Customer service onboarding programs also prevent your new hires from being unleashed into your world of customer service unprepared. This can help prevent any major faux pas in your new hires’ first months and helps ensure that your customers receive superior service. An onboarding program can include KPIs that work well in conjunction with a typical probation period too – this allows you to establish clear expectations and goals.
Creating Your Own Live Chat Onboarding Program
To create your own effective onboarding program, be sure to take the following steps:
Contrary to what you may have heard, onboarding doesn’t start on an employee’s first day. According to Erin Perry, Vice President of Global Solutions at Cielo, a successful onboarding program begins during the recruitment and hiring process.
Your company can begin the onboarding process before a candidate even steps foot in your building by including ample information about the position requirements, your workplace, and your company culture in the “Careers” section on your website or on job boards. By planning ahead and making relevant information easily available to your candidates during the application process, you are also more likely to attract individuals who are aligned with your company’s goals and culture.
Prepare A Written Statement of Responsibilities
A good first step when hiring for any new role is to write down their responsibilities and provide them with a printout of it during the interview process to help avoid any confusion about their role. The candidate should fully understand and agree to the responsibilities that you have in store for them before coming aboard. Make sure to also give them another on their first day.
A written statement of responsibilities should include how your new agents’ performance will be assessed so that your new hires will have goals to work towards. This includes any key performance indicators (KPIs) and what the benchmark is within your organization.
Keep Your other Agents in the Loop
Nobody likes to show up to the office on their first day feeling out of place or unwelcome. Before your new hires come in, let your supervisors and current agents know that they are coming. By encouraging your current staff to give these new agents a warm welcome, they will begin to feel like an important part of the team – not an afterthought – from day one.
Once your new hires come in, introduce them to their fellow live chat agents and their supervisors. Point out who they can go to for help and ask these identified agents to lend a hand when needed. Another great strategy is to introduce your new hires to other relevant teams that they may need to interact with. Establishing these relationships outside of the immediate team is vital, both from an everyday working point of view, as well as to foster a unified culture throughout the office.
Make the First Day Count
By the time your new hires come in for their first day, several workplace elements should have already been taken care of. Here are some of the things that you should take care of before your new hires’ first day:
- Plan where your new hires will be seated; clear and set aside their desk. A new hire who comes in without a desk ready for them will feel like an afterthought and may feel uncomfortable as a result.
- Make sure that desks, seats, and monitors are appropriately sanitized and set up – this is important from a health and safety perspective.
- Set up their computer, login information, email, and live chat systems before they walk in to save time.
- Set up video chat and/or phone systems if necessary.
Once your new hires arrive, it’s time to make their first day count. Here are some of the basics that you should take care of and/or introduce your live chat agents to on day one:
- Fill out any first day paperwork that the HR team gives you such as payroll.
- Take new hires on a tour of the building. Show them where bathrooms are, the break room, the cafeteria, and other key features of the office.
- Clear up any parking doubts, explain how breaks work, and give any other relevant information.
- Give new hires an idea of what their first few weeks will look like, including a training schedule if you’re planning classroom training, so they know what to expect.
- Touch upon live chat customer service basics and provide resources to further this knowledge.
- Provide resources to help develop product and business knowledge.
- Introduce new agents to the system and start teaching them how to use it.
- Introduce new hires to their fellow agents, supervisors, and other personnel.
Taking care of these elements will make for a productive and successful first day and will get your new hires started on the right track.
Use a Buddy System
Two heads are better than one… especially when you’re getting ready to turn a new hire loose on your customers. Choose a responsible agent to buddy each new hire with and seat them next to him or her. Assign them with the task of assisting with orientation or
acclimation. This may initially involve your new hires shadowing your seasoned agents, and eventually will lead to the experienced agents watching while the new hires try the system out for themselves.
Using a buddy system also initiates the socialization process and helps your new hires become comfortable with someone on the team who they can reach out to in the future.
Always Give Feedback
From their first day on the job, you want to begin providing new hires with feedback. Correcting mistakes in real-time is vital to preventing any slips in customer service quality. It is also necessary so that your agents can learn the right way to do certain processes from the get-go and not need additional correction down the line.
Normalizing feedback is also essential so that your new agents don’t feel personally attacked by, averse to, or above any constructive criticism that you need to give them in the future.
Encourage Socialization During Breaks and Lunch
Socialization is an important part of helping a new hire feel acclimated with the team. In fact, studies show that the secret to happy, engaged, high-performing employees might be as simple as having close relationships with colleagues. According to a survey by Virgin Pulse, 40 percent of respondents indicated their co-workers as the top reason they love their company.
Part of your onboarding process should be helping your new hires begin to invest socially in your company. You can start this process during your new employees’ first few days by encouraging the other agents to create a friendly environment for new hires. This can be as simple as encouraging seasoned agents to invite the new hires to lunch or to chat with them during a break. Consider going the extra mile and having a team lunch to welcome them. These steps will help your new hires feel more at ease and give them more people to turn to should they need help with a live chat situation.
Use Games Smartly
During the onboarding process, games can have many functions. They can help new hires learn the names of their co-workers and become more comfortable socializing and interacting with them. They also make the onboarding process more entertaining for everyone.
Try spicing up your onboarding process with selective games, friendly competition, and a reward system to help your new hires get in the swing of things. Alternately, you can even try presenting the entire onboarding process as a game. Consider having certain goals that your new hires need to reach in order to “level up.” Once they reach these goals, you may want to offer a reward or verbal congratulations and/or acknowledgement.
Check the Metrics
Before new hires begin live chatting with customers, be sure to put them through a degree of testing first to ensure that they can handle queries appropriately. One way to do this is with a customer service training course and certification.
Once your new agents are ready to interact with customers on their own, you are going to need to implement quality control by periodically reviewing their live chats. You can view live chat transcripts in real-time as they are happening or go over each new agent’s live chat history. This is necessary to ensure that your customers are getting the best possible experience and that any mishap is corrected immediately before it becomes habit.
It’s also important that you check agent metrics to measure productivity. Are your new hires where they should be at this point in the onboarding process? If not, why is that? Is there something that needs to be addressed with a specific new hire? Or is it a matter of unrealistic goals that require a bit of re-evaluation on your end?
As Erin Perry, Vice President of Global Solutions at Cielo, wisely puts it:
“Your employees are going to get oriented whether you plan for it or not. But if you do plan it, it’s a lot more likely to be successful.”
By creating a prepared, well-crafted agent onboarding program, your customers, new hires, and your team will all feel the effect: right now, months, and even years down the line.