When you are building out a curriculum for new-hire training at your call center, you may read books or blog posts about doing scenario-based training. But, what kind of scenarios should you actually include?

Whatever types of scenarios you end up using, the key is that scenario-based training is progressive. You don’t give a baby a steak to chew before it learns how to eat mushy oatmeal. You want your agents to take on simple scenarios and then build off of each level. 

With ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company — I’ve helped companies develop scenario-based training in their call center to teach their agents how to use ScreenSteps. I always recommend that each role-playing exercise builds on the foundation of the previous phase.

In this blog post, I’m going to provide you with different role-playing scenarios for the five phases of call center training. First, I’ll explain what each phase is. Then I’ll provide multiple examples that you can incorporate as part of your scenario-based training curriculum.

Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on November 2nd, 2021

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Scenario-Based Training: Role-playing Examples for Call Center Training

Phase 1: Basics of the intake

The first scenario you’ll want to teach your new call center agents how to handle is the intake script. That is the most basic part of the call in a contact center. But, it’s also the most difficult for new reps to master because it often requires reps to control the call.

Just stick to the basics in this phase because, honestly, the basics are the hardest part for most reps. The key elements of an intake script are:

  • Thank the caller for calling
  • Identify yourself
  • Identify the caller
  • Identify the purpose of the call
  • Communicate to the caller what you understand the purpose of the call to be and get confirmation

So your role-playing scenarios need to include practicing those elements. Let your new reps practice that intake script 50x if necessary. That is often the scariest part of the call because the rep is wondering, “Will I be able to understand what this person is asking about?”

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Skills agents are practicing

Understand what you will need to practice in your scenario-based training. What type of situations will your agents encounter during the intake portion of the call? What do they need to know how to handle?

Some of those skills include:

  • Identifying the purpose of the call
  • Using empathy while also taking control of the call (not allowing the caller to digress too much)
  • Not being timid about asking for clarification
  • Gathering the correct information upfront
  • Communicating back what the call is about
  • Taking notes when necessary

The biggest challenge new reps have is identifying the purpose of the call. If they can do that, then they are 90% of the way there (assuming you have procedures to help them once they identify the call).

For this phase, as soon as the rep (1) identifies the user and (2) identifies the purpose of the call, the scenario is over.  

Scenario-based training examples for phase 1

Here are five Phase 1 examples that you can copy and paste into your training curriculum. Obviously, you’ll have to make some slight tweaks — changing any specifics for your company — but these examples should get your brain juices flowing.

Remember: these are just situations to role-play. If you want your agents using guides while doing these scenarios, you will need to write out call flows before training.

These examples are listed in order of easiest to a more complex intake script. 

  1. My account ID is 5454566. I have a question about when my next billing statement will show up.
  2. My account ID is 5454566. Can I get a refund for a purchase I made 3 months ago?
  3. My account ID is 5454566. I’m trying to figure out how to log in to my account and I can’t do it. I’ve tried my email, my wife’s email. Nothing is working.
  4. Account ID? I don’t think I have an account ID. Oh, sure I can give you my email address. It’s john@johndoe.com. I want to know how I can stop getting charged each month. (In this scenario, the caller wants to cancel. Keep being ambiguous until the rep figures out and articulates the purpose.)
  5. Account ID? I don’t have an account ID. I don’t have an email either. I don’t want the government stealing my identity. I don’t want to give you my phone number. Why do you need that? (Wait until the rep explains that they need to look them up in their system.) My phone number is 555-5555. I’m calling because I can’t get this channel and I need to watch my show tonight.

If you need more examples, listen to calls that your reps are currently taking and just copy verbatim what callers are saying. If they’re ambiguous, great! Make that a scenario. Your new reps are going to need to learn how to clarify what’s being asked for.

Important: It’s okay if reps struggle a bit with identifying the purpose of the call at first. As you move through the next 4 phases, reps will become more familiar with what callers may be calling about because you will go through procedures, tasks, etc.

Example intake script

Before practicing these scenarios, you’ll need an intake script. Here is a sample intake script in case you need one.

    • Thank you for calling Acme, this is ________. Can I have your account ID?
      • email address 
      • phone number
      • Physical address
      • If No, other options for looking caller up: 
    • How can I help you today?
    • Write it down: Communicate back what you understand to be the purpose of the call.

Phase 2: Straightforward procedures/questions

After mastering the intake script, you can start role-playing simple procedures and answering basic questions

Now, you’re going to begin listing off the things your reps will need to be able to do and respond to. This goes beyond the agent being able to ask clarifying questions. 

The scenarios can be related to Phase 1’s questions or unrelated. For example, an agent can practice walking through a procedure for paying a bill.

Skills agents are practicing

Depending on how you want your agents to handle calls, there are different skills to master. 

If you are expecting your agent to memorize each step in a procedure, you’ll want them to demonstrate they can remember everything.

Ideally, you’ll have documented procedures and answers for agents to follow. If you do, then agents will learn how to locate the correct procedure in the knowledge base, read it, and talk through it during this phase.

Either way, the goal is for your agents to role-play going through the steps of the procedure or answering questions. They need to be able to get through the tasks and provide basic information to the caller.

Note: There is no need for agents to actually perform the procedure in your systems at this point.

Example scenarios with simple procedures 

These are questions that customers will most likely ask your reps on a day-to-day basis. Some example scenarios to practice basic procedures include:

  • When do you close?
  • What are the ingredients for item #8?
  • When does the promotion end?
  • When will the next billing show up?
  • Can’t log in to account
  • Can I get a refund?
  • Cancel an account
  • Unable to get channel
  • Error code XYZ
  • Update an account with new email address
  • Add another person to the account
  • Remove a person from the account
  • Complaint
  • Update credit card
  • Change billing address
  • Change billing contact
  • Replace device
  • Machine won’t turn on
  • Machine won’t turn off

Phase 3: Using the systems

The next step is to help your reps practice using the systems in your call center

Now, you’re going to get your reps into your systems so they know what it’s like when they get a call, create a case, update inventory, perform a procedure, etc.

Skills to practice

This phase is asking the rep to handle the call while simultaneously filling things out and clicking through screens. It’s a bit of multitasking. You will have agents take action on the requests/answers the caller gives.

At the beginning of this phase, don’t make the trainees go through the entire call from the start to finish (e.g. from intake to finding the procedure to performing the procedure). Just call out some basic procedures and have your reps pull them up and perform them in the systems. 

Once they get the hang of navigating through systems, you can start to layer on the other things, like doing an intake and pretending to handle a caller while also clicking through your systems.

Note: Having written procedures that walk reps through all of the steps helps reps as they perform procedures. Even after training, the agents will have these guides for reference and use them daily.

Examples of tasks

There are many tasks to complete in a call center. Your call center probably has many more, but here are common examples of tasks to practice to get your list started. 

  • View the phone queue
  • Answer a call
  • Transfer a call
  • Put a caller on hold
  • Lookup a caller’s account in the database
  • Update fields for intake
  • Create a case/ticket
  • What to include in a case/ticket
  • Review a caller’s information
  • Exchange a product
  • Process a refund
  • Take notes during the call
  • Update record after the call is over
  • Update a customer record
  • Upgrade a customer’s plan
  • Downgrade a customer’s plan
  • Add a new person to the caller’s account
  • Remove a person from the caller’s account
  • Cancel an account
  • Provide office hours
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Cancel an appointment
  • Reschedule an appointment

If you have written procedures for each task, your reps should be able to follow those instructions step by step.

Phase 4: Complex questions and soft skills

Now, you’re going to begin throwing some curveballs.

In this phase, it is easy to identify what they want, but the process is a little more difficult. At this point, your reps are getting comfortable doing the intake, handling basic questions/tasks, and using your systems to execute those tasks.

Skills to practice

The reps know the straightforward process (e.g. changing a billing address). Now, they need to practice what to do if things aren’t as straightforward (e.g. changing the billing address to another address that already exists in the system and the system is warning them that there’s already an account with that address).

Your reps will also need to begin using soft skills to help the caller when things may not work in the caller’s favor (e.g. can’t get a refund). They will need to practice addressing concerns, delivering bad news, etc.

In these scenarios, you don’t need to worry about entering these into the system yet. Just let callers get used to handling calls that are a bit more difficult.

Note: Your written procedures should help your reps handle the curveballs. In previous examples, your reps did the straightforward version of the procedure. But now they need to pay attention to those notes and decision trees that take reps down those less common paths.

Example scenarios

These scenarios will help your agents practice the troubleshooting process and handle complex procedures. Some situations to role-play include:

  • Caller wants to change account owner, but they are not the account owner and the account owner is not available
  • Caller wants to change the billing address, but they are not the account owner
  • Caller wants a refund but is unable to ship the product back
  • Caller wants to exchange a product that is no longer available
  • Caller is asking for office hours but the hours don’t meet the caller’s schedule
  • The machine won’t turn off and the caller needs to send it in to get fixed
  • The alarm code needs troubleshooting
  • Caller wants to pay via credit card but their card isn’t working
  • Caller wants a specific product that is no longer available

Phase 5: Putting it all together

Now, you have all the pieces of handling a call at your contact center. Take callers through a complete call — intake to resolution — and ask them to use your systems appropriately.

Since you’ve already got dozens of scenarios, repurpose those and ask your reps to go through them from start to finish.

If you are the only trainer, you will likely be the one role-playing with reps. Start with one rep and have them go through the entire call, but ask ALL of the reps in training to go through the procedure and use the systems. By the end of the role-play, each rep should have a ticket or system update that you can review.

You can keep your reps on their feet by having one rep start the call and then you jump to another rep to do the next step.

You should have a call flow script or standard procedures that reps can follow to resolve 95% of the calls they will receive and instructions for what to do when they can’t resolve the call (the other 5%). 

How to prepare your call center and your agents for challenges

When you use scenario-based training as part of your call center training strategy, your agents are better prepared to handle any call that comes their way. As they role-play, they can prepare for the unexpected. They gain skills to manage difficult situations.

With ScreenSteps, we provide a one-stop shop for all of your call center’s documented call flows and procedures. Agents can easily find and follow the step-by-step instructions in just a couple of clicks. 

Are you looking for ways to improve your call center training? In this eBook, you will learn about common mistakes call centers make while training their agents. Plus, we provide solutions to each of those pitfalls. 

Download the free 18 Pitfalls to Avoid When Scaling Your Call Center or Customer Service Team eBook.

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About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success