On the Fly: Why it’s Useful to Include Role Play in Call Center Training Programs

I’ve done my fair share of flying lately, so you’ll have to forgive me if it feels like my head is in the clouds for this one. It had been a few years since I’d set foot in an airport, and I was reminded of a few things. Number one? My personal heaven is an airport bookstore. Number two? There is no greater place to witness customer service do’s and don’ts.

flight attendant

As one of the newer Lessonly by Seismic employees, I’ve been paying a little more attention to customer service experiences than I had in the past—even while sipping my Starbucks latte during a long layover. So, I’ve come to a few aviation-related realizations about call center certification programs. Here are a few of them: 

Customer service agents are the flight attendants of the call center. 

Hear me out—like flight attendants, customer service agents have to carefully balance customer satisfaction with business interests. On an airplane, that means prioritizing safety and security, even when a customer is unhappy with how exactly that happens. In a call center, that means prioritizing things like first call resolution or average handle time, even when a chatty Cathy calls. Both of these roles require employees to strike a careful balance between two—occasionally competing—interests. Call center training certification can help agents hone this balancing act. 

“Attention, this is your captain speaking!” doesn’t always work the first time. 

How many times have you listened to a muffled airline announcement and actually understood every word? I’m going to bet it’s not that often. Instead, it’s more likely that you took note of what the flight attendants did around you and followed their lead. The same can be said for the call center environment. Customers take cues from call center agents—not from the bigwigs. And, they’ll probably have to be told a couple times. The good news? Call center management courses and software can help the “captains” manage their “flight attendants” so well that they practically fly on autopilot. 

Call center agents really have to “earn their wings.” 

It’s tough out there on the customer service streets—and skies! As a passenger, it’s usually pretty easy to tell when the flight attendant reading the on-board announcements is a seasoned vet or not. (Hint: They avoid the ums, pauses, and monotone rote-memorization.) The same can be said for call center agents. The seasoned agents listen better than they speak, reference the right resources, and roll with the punches.  

Of course, agents will learn a lot by simply doing the job, but do you really want them practicing on paying customers? The good news is that there are ways to give your agents the “flight time” they need before they hit the phones, so that’s where we’ll be flying to next.

flight heart

3 Reasons Why It’s Useful to Include Role Play

Role play improves listening skills. 

A call center 101 training newbie might assume that it’s all about the chit-chat, but good CS training emphasizes listening skills, too. One of the most powerful ways to train great listening skills is through role play. According to Forbes, less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or learning to understand and improve listening skills and techniques.. Body language, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues are all put to the test, and agents are able to practice the art of thinking on the fly, without the pressure of a paying customer on the line. 

Role play encourages creative problem solving. 

In the same vein, role play allows CSRs to put their resourcefulness to the test. Can they actually find the knowledge they need within a reasonable amount of time? Are they able to handle increasingly complex situations? Shockingly, only 32% of call agents receive training for problem solving skills, so any step in this direction is a helpful one. 

Role play builds confidence. 

Why does confidence matter in the long-run? According to a Mckinsey study, a confident, well-trained call center agent is 8.5x more likely to stick around for at least 12 months. And while free call center management training can be helpful in a pinch, you’re not going to get very far without personalized training that meets agents exactly where they are. Personalized call center training, online or in-person, signals to trainees that your organization actually cares about their development. And role play gives managers the opportunity to identify gaps, iron out wrinkles, and provide additional guidance that truly helps agents feel more seen, supported, and ready for the role. 

Let your Training Take Flight with Lessonly 

Prepare for takeoff—Lessonly helps customer service teams like yours improve NPS by 39% with more effective call center training programs. To get the lowdown on Lessonly, book a 15-minute demo with us. 

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