The Ultimate Guide: 5 Common Call Center Mistakes That AI Training Can Eradicate

BY:  Rebecca Herson
March 11, 2024

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Call centers are under immense pressure to deliver consistent productivity and efficiency, and that pressure is growing all the time. Customer service, customer support, and sales representatives are expected to achieve high sales volumes, high first call resolution rates, and meet other KPIs for sales and customer satisfaction metrics. 

It doesn’t help that customer patience levels are low and expectations are high. Agents need to remain calm throughout stressful conversations and smooth ruffled feathers for demanding callers. The struggle is real, so it’s not surprising that mistakes and missteps can occur. High churn rates among agents and increasingly complex queries and products can result in frequent errors, which translate into dropped calls, missed deals, and rising customer frustration. 

In theory, training should prevent these errors from occuring, or at least ensure that they are a rarity. In practice, however, errors still occur all too often, harming your KPIs and your reputation. 

But call center training is not always as effective as it could be. A shortage of managers and experienced coaches mean that agents can’t get the role play practice time they need to master skills and knowledge. What’s more, not every manager also knows how to train others, and coaching can be so poorly targeted that those who need it may not receive enough support. The shift to remote work only made remote training less effective, and working from home means that agents have no one on hand to ask for advice in the moment. 

Fortunately, AI training can address many of these issues. Here are the five most frequent issues that arise in call centers, and the ways that AI training can help prevent or drastically reduce them, increase call center agent performance, and improve your key metrics. 

Inadequate soft skills

Many customer support and sales conversations go south because of poor soft skills, primarily communication. Agents who struggle to adequately describe the value proposition of a solution, explain the cause of a glitch, or simplify complex instructions can leave customers frustrated, irritated, and inclined to churn. 

AI training allows agents to rehearse every scenario with any type of customer, so they can polish their soft skills. AI coaches give instant feedback about wording, tone, and even body language. Since the AI role play partner is available 24/7, agents can immediately practice the advice they just received to encode it as habit. Human managers and trainers can also miss subtleties of expression that AI trainers will notice and correct. 

Practicing challenging conversations in a safe environment gives agents more confidence once they move onto live calls, and that confidence itself helps them express themselves better. Human-led training can be stressful, embarrassing, and/or pressured, which holds agents back from trying different possibilities and learning through free trial and error. 

A failure of compassion

Lack of soft skills results not just in crossed wires, but also in a perceived lack of empathy. Customers are looking for understanding as well as answers, but sometimes, agents come across as indifferent and uncaring. This can leave customers feeling ignored or unimportant, even when the agent successfully resolves their problem or answers their questions. 

Soft skills like active listening and expressing concern are tough to teach in a classroom setting or through educational videos. It’s also very difficult for managers and trainers to identify the precise changes that agents need to make to improve their soft skills. 

But AI training using smart role play personas allows call center agents to practice active listening until they succeed, without running out of patience or focus. This interactive learning helps agents to improve more quickly, and AI analysis can pick up on the tone and phrasing that conveys empathy to make actionable recommendations that strengthen soft skills. 

Inconsistent service delivery

Call centers and BPOs for industries like healthcare, insurance, and finance have to stick carefully to specific procedures and protocols when talking with customers. They might need to comply with certain industrial or legal regulations. Companies in other vertical industries might also require agents to follow certain policies to ensure consistent service delivery. 

However, these policies can be long, complicated, and hard to remember. Sometimes they even require agents to change the way they would naturally talk or explain something. Traditional training doesn’t always give agents enough time to practice for them to become fully familiar with the “right” way to conduct a conversation, so they end up learning on the job – and making mistakes along the way. 

AI training means that agents can practice conversations as many times as they need to and get feedback to make sure they are doing it right. With enough practice, procedures, disclaimers, compliance regulations, and industry-specific terms become second nature.

Patchy product knowledge

If your agents aren’t thoroughly familiar with the products or services they are supporting, they are likely to give inaccurate advice, and struggle to provide useful assistance to customers. This is especially common in industries with complex packages like insurance or telecommunications. 

Passive learning isn’t very effective at instilling product knowledge. In fact, students forget as much as 50% of new information within 24 hours, and 90% within a week. However, active learning using AI simulations stimulates more areas of the brain, helping significantly boost memory retention and ensure that your agents are fully conversant with your products, services, and solutions. 

Inappropriate reactions

Call center and BPO agents have to deal with all kinds of scenarios, including customers who are angry and unreasonable, and often under time pressure. Occasionally, agents struggle to manage the stressful nature of their work and end up reacting inappropriately to customers. This could take the form of expressing impatience or irritation, or involve overpromising something that the company can’t possibly deliver. 

Training using AI simulations gives agents the opportunity to encounter every kind of challenging situation and rehearse the best ways to handle it, all in a safe environment that gives them tips for how to do better. When they enter that scenario in a real life call, they’ll be better able to remain calm and already have an effective response at their fingertips.

Equip your agents to conduct superior customer conversations

With the help of AI training, call center and BPO agents can acquire all the skills, knowledge, and appropriate responses that they need to deal successfully with every kind of conversation. When they feel more confident about their ability to handle different types of interactions, their performance will improve, and so will your customer satisfaction scores and other KPIs.

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About the author

Rebecca Herson

Rebecca is head of marketing at Second Nature.

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