Weeks two to four: Core training program
Customer support training can’t just depend on one-off inductions. Support reps need a systematic way to put theory to practice.
Think back to your school or college days. How many hours could you sit still and listen to someone speak to you?
There’s a limit to how much you can passively absorb. Training programs are not usually tailored to individuals, so it may not fit their goals or learning style.
But training has its uses and its place. It’s great for new hires in their initial weeks, and for introducing your team to new product features, topics and approaches.
Good training programs accommodate both guided learning and private study. You can do this through mentorship and on-demand training materials.
If you want to bring active learning into your training culture, assign mentors to get your team up to speed.
Building a mentorship process from scratch
Mentoring can take a number of forms depending on your team or company structure, but it must happen regularly and be actionable.
Mentors should be able to point a finger at specific interactions and recent performance. Then they should use small-scale formats — 1-on-1 sessions, peer mentorship or real-time coaching — to give feedback and work on making tangible improvements.
Mentoring customer support agents in the early months allows them to quickly pick up knowledge and skills that they might miss if they’re were looking at a whiteboard, or reading a training manual.
Choosing the right mentor
Choosing the right mentor is vital to the effectiveness of the onboarding and training process. A mentor is there to answer any questions and provide daily support for the new team member.
If you operate 24-hour support, timezones can make the mentoring process difficult. But if teams are split across different timezones you can choose the right person from the day or night team to support the new staff member.
If this is your first international hire, ask your mentor to work a split shift so they’re available in the new employee’s critical learning hours. This will accommodate the new support employee and meet the demands of your support queue.
Create daily focus periods of interactive learning
Training new support employees is dependent on active learning. Watching videos, lectures, or reading documentation can only go so far.
New employees are nervous but ready to go. Don’t dampen their energy with training that rivals studying a dictionary!
Create active learning environments where recruits can interact with their mentors in real time.
If your product is complex, create daily focused periods so mentors can go deep into functionality. Don’t overwhelm support employees in their first few days! Crossed wires can do more damage than good when operating a complex product.
Beware of your mentor over-delivering information to your support team member with extended lectures and facts about your product or service. Ask questions to prompt thoughts by the new recruit about the product. Engage their curiosity and creativity – these make wonderful tools for active learning.
Conduct live or remote training sessions so you can answer all of the subject questions in real time.
One-to-one training is vital for new employees. Ensure they don’t sit in a room isolated and bemused by the software before them. They’ll end up resenting the company, when all they needed was a mentor.
In the core training, Kayako assigns a mentor to new staff to explore the basics of product functionality.
As Kayako is such an intelligent piece of software, we have to be smart with our product training. We go over one support channel at a time. We might start with email on day one, social support day two, and Messenger day three. We then co-assign them the matching on-demand video training.
These daily focus periods are important so our new staff member gets a better idea of how to work across each channel. This is critical to our diagnosing process.
Customer Success Consultant at Kayako
When to use training materials
There is a time when recorded material is useful. Humans are exposed to a lot of stimuli everyday. Consider the billions of commercials and advertisements you see on the web, TV, and billboards. There’s just no way you’d remember them all!
Consider one-to-one training sessions in the same way. It’s a lot of note-taking and information for a new employee to process. Here’s where video training can help build product knowledge.
It gives them a chance to rewatch clips, look closely at the content, and to better understand what is happening. Our focus as human beings doesn’t let us take in and process this much information at one time.
Kayako uses Grovo to train new support team members through video.
Our Grovo training takes new staff on a journey through a previous conversation to show how we tackled it. The training starts by revealing the problem the customer faces, and then we go about diagnosing it.
We focus on explaining what we are doing, and why, while recording what we are doing on screen.
In a support role you’re actively looking for issues that should be passed onto the correct teams. Explain what to look for, and the essential information to be collected. Then in a corresponding video you might show how to log an issue for the engineering team to be debugged.
Training within an orientation period gets you going. The true work towards a high performing support team happens in the first few months.