Do a Google search for call center training and you’ll see the same strategies, tips, and best practices on most lists. These approaches are valid, but true call center excellence comes from thinking outside the box.

For optimal success, you must go the extra mile and offer something different. Soft skills, microlearning, gamification, and personalized learning tracks are just some of the ways to amp up your call center training program for maximum results.

Strategy 1: Focus on Soft Skills

What It Looks Like

If you manage a call center workforce, you probably already know that agents don’t all come to the role with the interpersonal skills needed to excel. Things like active listening, problem-solving, empathy, and patience may come naturally to some, but not all.

Helping agents hone these important soft skills is essential to creating a positive customer experience on every call. It also helps your team members become better call center agents, which means they’ll have better long-term opportunities for career growth.

The good news is that these skills are not hard to learn, it just takes practice.


When your call center agents have mastered soft skills, they’re able to handle any type of call with ease. That’s why it’s important to build soft skills training into your agent development program.

Angry customers making unreasonable demands? Empathy will give agents the ability to help irate customers feel heard and understood.

Customers calling with unclear requests? Active listening helps agents read between the lines and quickly decipher the underlying issue.

Customers experiencing a tough issue with a product? Problem-solving skills help agents quickly identify the issue and troubleshoot to reach resolution.

The list of benefits is virtually endless when your agents have a strong grasp on soft skills.

How to Implement

You can incorporate soft skills learning opportunities into an existing agent training program or create standalone courses. Either way, it’s important to include key elements in your training to ensure success.

  • Establish a baseline: When you roll out a soft skills program, it’s important to know where each agent stands and what type of training they actually need. You can use call center quality monitoring tactics to help with this. In this case, you can start with just a scorecard to gauge areas of strength and improvement opportunities. The skills you measure on the scorecard should be relevant to your unique call center needs. Then listen in to agents on calls and score each element, often on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is excellent and 1 needs work. This will reveal the specific soft skills that each agent should focus on.
  • Gain agent buy in: Rolling out any kind of training program, especially one teaching intangible soft skills, requires you to educate your agents about the “why” behind the program. If they don’t know why they need to complete the training, they’re less likely to complete it or use what they learned. Be sure to explain the ways soft skills can help them excel in their roles and guide their career growth.
  • Make learning fun: Boring lectures or dry videos don’t do much to help agents build soft skills. Offer them learning opportunities that are interesting and engaging instead. For example, pair agents up and let them role play challenging agent/customer interactions with one being the agent and the other the difficult customer. Then switch their roles. There are countless ways to engage agents in group learning to practice and refine their soft skills. The ultimate goal is to take them away from their computers and let them engage face-to-face.
  • Set tangible goals: The most success comes when people have clear goals to work towards. Add a “goals” column to your scorecard and work together with each agent to identify what they want their score to be for a specific soft skill and the timeframe they want to accomplish it in. Then spend some time listening in on calls, and share the new data with agents to see how performance improved. For the overall team, set group goals for KPI improvement. When reached, celebrate!

Mistakes to Avoid

Soft skills training takes more effort than other types of skills training. It requires both agent and management buy-in to be truly successful. This means call center leadership has to stay proactive in motivation and encouragement. Letting soft skills training fall off your radar when other tasks take priority is an easy mistake to make.

You also need to recognize that not every agent is the same and account for these differences. Some will embrace soft skills training and learning activities, others not so much. Creating a collaborative and nurturing environment is important so that every agent feels seen and heard.

Strategy 2: Offer Microlearning Opportunities

What It Looks Like

Call centers are busy places, and pulling agents away from the phones to participate in long training sessions is not always possible or desirable. Microlearning breaks down training into bite-size pieces that agents can absorb in small increments of time.

Microlearning sessions are often less than 10 minutes each and focus on a single task or topic. Agents can squeeze these mini-lessons in between calls or during dedicated microlearning breaks that you schedule into their day. It takes the burden out of learning.


Microlearning allows busy call centers to focus on training without impacting workload. Agents can complete these mini-sessions quickly, avoiding learning burnout often associated with mandatory training sessions that last hours or even days.

Microlearning also helps agents refine their time management skills. They can be assigned a set number of modules and a timeframe to finish, letting the agent decide how and when to complete them. Since microlearning modules can be created and deployed faster than a full training course, managers can quickly respond to new training needs, too.

How to Implement

You can create microlearning modules from scratch or break up existing larger training courses into smaller pieces. Most call centers enlist the help of their quality assurance team and internal or external training teams to create microlearning modules.

Once the microlearning modules are ready, call center managers can quickly deploy them as needed. Sometimes everything rolls out at once for all agents. Other times managers assign microlearning based on individual agent needs.

Mistakes to Avoid

The key to microlearning success is to roll it out in a fun way and give agents the autonomy and tools to complete the training. No matter how short the microlearning session may be, if you expect agents to jump from call to call to call for their full shift, training just won’t happen.

Even the shortest lesson will feel impossible if agents don’t have some time during their workday to complete it. Be sure to incorporate downtime into the agent’s day so they can focus on learning rather than completing mandatory training on their own time.

Strategy 3: Use Gamification

What It Looks Like

Redesigning your training to be delivered in the form of popular gaming styles, like crossword puzzles or trivia questions, is one form of gamification. Incorporating recognition elements like leaderboards, badges, and points is another. The two can be used together, too.

Adding incentives, like bonuses, prizes, or even time off, is another way to amplify the gamification of your training program.


Gamification helps keep training fresh and fun, plus it boosts participation and increases completion rates. Gamification makes learning more interesting and appealing to agents.

Recognition is also a strong motivator. When agents can share wins and success with their team and managers, they’re more likely to embrace training opportunities.

How to Implement

You can use dedicated apps to make some or all parts of your current training programs more gamified. If you have in-house developer resources, you can also leverage those to gamify some elements of your training modules.

If you don’t want to go that route, implementing a scoring system tied to learning assessments is another way to easily gamify training. You can use these results to populate leaderboards and award prizes or incentives. Leaderboards can be as simple as a white board in the call center, prominently displayed and updated regularly.

Mistakes to Avoid

The biggest mistake to avoid when you go down the gamification route is losing sight of the forest for the trees.

Yes, learning is more fun when it looks like Trivial Pursuit or the New York Times crossword puzzle. But if the underlying purpose of the training is lost in the quest for bells and whistles, then gamification is not a good training investment.

Strategy 4: Deliver Training in Diverse Ways

Not every call center agent is identical, and the way they learn best isn’t the same either. Delivering training in multiple formats is essential to reach all learners. The goal is to deliver training that speaks to an agent’s unique learning style and preference.

What It Looks Like

When done well, your training will consist of variants of the same material, each in a different format.

You provide text-based options for those who prefer to learn by reading, video options for visual learners, and interactive experiences for spatial learners who prefer a more hands-on approach. It’s all the same concept and materials, just presented in different ways.


When you consider different learning styles and develop training to satisfy each one, you have better completion and success rates. Learners are eager to complete training, since it can be taken in a format that appeals to their natural learning preferences.

When agents are on board with learning, they absorb the information they need, build their knowledge or skill base, and perform better on the job.

How to Implement

When creating new training opportunities, ensure the modules are available in both text and video options. The most common way to do this is to create a video but make it easy for a learner to switch to text-only mode, as preferred.

You can also make live training opportunities available that cover the same information. This satisfies those agents who learn best when immersed in group activities.

Mistakes to Avoid

When you’re offering training in multiple formats, the biggest concern is losing quality as you repurpose the content. If you rely on text to convey a concept but the video doesn’t incorporate it, too, you have learning loss.

It’s important to verify that all key learning concepts are adequately explained within each type of learning opportunity.

Strategy 5: Create Personalized Learning Tracks

The most successful training is tailored to individual needs. This means every single agent in the call center has their own learning profile and assigned paths.

Managers meet with and assess each agent individually, talking to them about their career goals and aspirations. Training plans are developed based on these assessments and meetings. No two training plans should ever look the same.

What It Looks Like

When you adopt an individualized training approach, you’ll have a unique training program for each agent. Some essential courses will, of course, be present across multiple agents’ training plans, but no two plans will be identical.

Once these plans are in place, agents work individually to complete their assigned courses and reach their goals. This offers agents a highly personalized approach to learning, and one that best helps them strengthen skills, feel motivated to reach goals, and progress in their careers.


Happy and motivated agents deliver call center excellence. Your customer satisfaction and other KPIs will reflect it, too.

The same is true for agent retention. When a call center agent feels like they have career growth support from their manager, they’re far likelier to stick around for the long term. Reducing churn and maintaining a steady pool of well-trained and skilled agents is invaluable to your call center’s success.

How to Implement

This strategy starts with a one-on-one with the agent. Go over any existing assessment or scorecard results with them. Identify strengths and areas for improvement, then discuss the agent’s mid- to long-term career goals.

Once you understand where the agent is right now and where they want to go, you can build a training program together to suit their needs, goals, and ambitions. It’s this personalized attention that makes this strategy work.

Mistakes to Avoid

You have to meet the agent where they are right now. Not every agent is going to have supercharged dreams of goal crushing and promotions at a given moment in time. If you don’t understand that and try to shoehorn every agent onto the fast track, you will meet with resistance, lack of motivation, and attrition.

You also need to keep agents motivated along the way. If you set a personalized training plan but never follow up with coaching and encouragement at key milestones, agents may lose interest or quit altogether.

Strategy 6: Conduct Cross-Training

Call center agents flourish when they have a 360º view of the company. Letting them spend time learning how other departments do their work—and observing how those departments are impacted by call center activity—is invaluable to nurturing well-rounded agents.

Send your agents to spend a day or week working in related departments. Their call center performance will skyrocket.

What It Looks Like

Agents will step out of the call center for a defined period of time to job shadow or perform functions in other departments. Any department impacted by call center activity is where to send the agents.

This helps agents get a full view of how their job performance impacts others. It also provides an opportunity for agents to offer suggestions for improvements elsewhere that will help the call center operate better.


Knowledge is power. Agents given opportunities to enhance what they know about company operations become stronger in their own roles. They gain problem-solving and analytical skills they may not otherwise develop. Thoroughly understanding how things run outside the call center enables them to better serve customers and their colleagues, too.

How to Implement

Work with management in other departments to set up a job share program. While their team members may not put on a headset and field calls under your watch, your agents can shadow those team members in their own environment.

Whether the program is one-half day or something longer, cross-department collaboration works best when all of management is on board.

Mistakes to Avoid

Any cross-department training program requires buy-in from managers and executives. Failing to get everyone on board can jeopardize the program’s success.

It’s also imperative to clarify the goals and objectives of the program. You want agents to know why they’re participating, and what the expected outcomes are. Failing to offer any post-program assessment is also a mistake to avoid.

Strategies for Training Remote Teams

Managers of hybrid or fully-remote call center teams face unique challenges their counterparts with onsite teams don’t have. Some of these include:

  • Manager-agent relationships are harder to develop without face-to-face interactions
  • Misunderstandings are common
  • Time zones present coordination challenges
  • Virtual team members often feel isolated and disconnected
  • Team meetings feel artificial and are prone to technical difficulties

It’s not a losing proposition, though. In fact, even with remote teams, training should be mandatory. With a bit of extra effort and smart strategies, managers of distributed teams can make training and performance a success.

  • Engage with each team member individually on a regular basis to build camaraderie, set and review goals, and monitor progress
  • Schedule time for team meetings and training that focus on building relationships among agents
  • Make sure all agents understand team and individual goals
  • Closely track performance against these goals and keep agents updated on progress
  • Leverage call center software and remote support software aimed at helping remote teams thrive
  • Specialized training software can also make it easier to train a remote workforce

There are even some things that are easier for remote teams, especially when it comes to training.

  • Thanks to time zone differences, live training can be staggered without the need to close the call center while agents attend
  • Remote agents have fewer distractions than those seated near each other
  • Companies can pull from a wider talent pool with a deeper skill set, meaning less overall training is required