How a knowledge base helped a call center cross-train agents in one day
It’s challenging to know how many agents you’re going to need answering calls on any given day when you work in a call center.You can track patterns and do your best to predict call volume based on time of year, product launches, or other key indicators. But, no matter what you do, there are always those days where the call volume spikes and hurts your call hold time. Ugh!
Many companies choose to specialize agents in specific departments. This is because they need to become familiar with a large amount of information to do their jobs. And, of course, there is always one department that isn’t as busy as another. So you consider cross-training agents.
If you decide to cross-train agents, the challenge is then that you need to pull that agent off of the line for a few weeks while you teach them how to answer calls for a different area in your company. Now you’re down another person!
Is it worth it? You know hiring a new agent will cost more, especially if you primarily need help with unexpected spikes in different departments.
At ScreenSteps, we’ve seen many companies debate whether to hire or cross-train agents. Which will help them reach their call center metrics?
Using our knowledge base software, one call center was able to go from cross-training its agents in 1-3 weeks to as little as 30 minutes.
Below, I’ll share this Regional Medical Call Center’s story on how they simplified and shortened cross-training using ScreenSteps.
The roadblock making it difficult to cross-train
The Regional Medical Call Center manages more than 120 locations and 750 medical professionals. Across the company, the call center has 70+ reps scheduling nearly a million patient visits each year.
To handle the volume of calls, the call center has agents specialized by region. This is because the agents had to learn the processes for each location (which was often different for each physician).
They used an Excel workbook to help them complete the processes, but the problem was it was difficult to find the necessary information in the workbook and the workbooks were often outdated.
The management team realized they had a productivity issue. At times, they would have one region slammed with calls while another region had a mild day.
They wanted to be able to use agents from different regions to help out the region buried in calls, but agents were only trained in their region.
🔎 Related: How ScreenSteps Helps Call Centers
Before an agent could help with another region, they needed to be cross-trained. This involved providing them with the Excel workbook. Then they needed to memorize the location of the different bits of information so that they could find it.
Depending on how many physicians were in the region, the cross-training could take anywhere from 1-3 weeks. Management realized the call center team couldn’t be responsive when it took that long to cross-train.
They needed help in other areas for call spikes but didn’t want to hire new staff to cover it when other agents were underutilized.
The changes the call center made to make it easier to cross-train
Instead of hiring new staff, management discovered a solution to help employees cross-train faster.
They found a knowledge base solution in ScreenSteps. ScreenSteps allowed them to make documentation easier to find and shorten training times. That involved changing two aspects of how they handled its call center:
1. They switched to a searchable knowledge base
The management team decided that the Excel workbooks weren’t working for their agents. It was taking too much time for agents to find the information — and agents couldn’t always find the answers they needed.
In their own words, one call center manager said, “It was a mess.”
They decided to switch to ScreenSteps’ searchable knowledge base and work with our coaching team. Together we turned those Excel workbooks into 300+ articles on their ScreenSteps’ site.
Now agents use keywords to quickly pull up step-by-step guides specific to each physician. It is easier for agents to navigate the guides.
2. They adopted Zero Memorization Training
After transferring their information into ScreenSteps and optimizing it for search, the Regional Medical Call Center made changes to the company’s training.
They adopted Zero Memorization Training, which teaches agents to find the answers they are looking for in the knowledge base.
That means agents no longer need to memorize the different processes and procedures for scheduling appointments with different physicians. This simplified the information agents needed to know to complete a call.
Since the initial onboarding training was based on learning how to search the knowledge base instead of memorizing information specific to their regions, agents were able to pick up on how to handle a different region’s calls faster.
The results from adjusting how they cross-trained agents
Whereas it took 1-3 weeks to cross-train agents before the company switched to ScreenSteps, it now only takes days and sometimes less than an hour to cross-train. The exact length of time depends on the complexity of the region.
Last November, the call center asked two employees to cross-train for new regions. While these employees had been working in the Northeast region, they were now getting cross-trained to help with any volume spikes that happened in the state of Maryland.
Within one day of training, both of the agents were successfully handling calls for Maryland and neither rep had made any scheduling errors.
To date, the Regional Medical Call Center’s fastest cross-training record is just 30 minutes.
They even had one agent — who was handling calls for New York and New Jersey — start handling calls for Connecticut without any formal training. The managers granted her permission to Connecticut’s resources in the knowledge base. Then she followed the protocols she learned in her initial training to handle the calls.
Enable your agents to handle calls in different specialties
Do you want to break down the silos in your call center and help your agents diversify the calls they can handle?
This Regional Medical Call Center was able to help teams experiencing high call volumes by pooling its resources. They were prepared with a plan on how they could react to call volume spikes — and it didn’t involve hiring more agents.
The call center empowered its agents with ScreenSteps. Using the knowledge base, they made it easier to cross-train agents. This provided them the tools they needed to schedule appointments. ScreenSteps is easy to search so that agents can find answers quickly and handle calls efficiently.
Shorter cross-training was only one of the benefits this company enjoyed by adopting ScreenSteps. Learn how the call center used ScreenSteps to speed up training, even when they unexpectedly switched to remote training.