Last year, thanks to a bit of fortuitous Googling, I came across The Chat Shop during my job search. Shortly after applying for a role with the team, and completing their application and interview process, I began my new role as a Live Chat Agent.
Becoming a Live Chat Agent was a complete departure from anything I had done before…I had a lot to learn but my Team Leader guided me through the internal training process where I learnt the knowledge and honed the skills needed to succeed. In the last few months I’ve learned more about live chat services and communication than I ever could have imagined existed!
When a new agent joins the team, they undergo at least 100 hours of paid training as part of The Chat Shop Academy. Talented recruits are turned into highly skilled Live Chat Agents. Training doesn’t stop there however…each time an agent begins working with a new client they receive between 8 and 16 hours of training (depending on the complexity of their products and services) and Live Chat Agents also complete regular refresher training to top up their core skills.
After months of honing my chat skills as a Live Chat Agent, and delivering on important client and in-house KPIs, I was surprised and incredibly happy to be offered a Team Leader position. It was an opportunity that I gladly accepted…it was a chance to grow professionally and take on new responsibilities whilst managing a team of Live Chat Agents.
My new role has brought with it many challenges on both a personal and professional level. Moving back to full time work after over 3 years of working part time or not at all has been a daunting prospect. I’m now firmly of the opinion that getting 2 small children out of the house by 7:30am should be considered an Olympic event (albeit, one which I’d crash out of at the qualification stage).
As I’m sure any regular reader of our blog knows, communication really is at the heart of everything The Chat Shop does, both in our interactions with customers, and with each other. I consider myself really lucky that I work with people who are always willing to lend a hand if there’s anything that I need.
Learning the ropes on a new role can be challenging enough at times, but add in the fact that you’re 150 miles up the road from your colleagues and it presents a whole new set of challenges! I work remotely, so good communication between team members has been very important (as it is for everyone that works at The Chat Shop). We use regular one-to-ones, conference calls and transparent communication tools such as Slack to keep everyone on the same page – aiming for the same client goals.
Luckily for me, another of The Chat Shop’s agents was offered a Team Leader position at the same time as I was. We’ve been able to help each other through the Team Leader learning curve by sharing tips and tricks and offering advice when the other comes up against a new challenge. We’ll even send each other the odd virtual glass of wine, as well as a real one or two when I made the trip from deepest darkest Yorkshire to London to visit my head office colleagues!
The biggest changes that have occurred after transforming from Live Chat Agent to Team Leader have come in my daily work and the way that I view things. As an agent you are of course aware of your team’s performance but, naturally, tend to concentrate more on your own individual KPIs each week. As a Team Leader, your focus is pulled back to incorporate everyone’s individual performance and how that feeds into the team’s KPIs each week, which is one huge perspective shift! Corny as it sounds, there’s no I in team, and the performance of each individual member is so important to the success of the team as whole.
I must now take charge of the Live Chat Quality Assurance Process for my team. Quality Assurance is an integral part of providing a consistent, outstanding service here at The Chat Shop. Every day, I monitor 5 data points for each agent in my team (including response times and customer satisfaction). Each week, I monitor 20 quantitative metrics for each agent and a multitude of qualitative elements. Twice weekly I provide in depth feedback and improvement suggestions (along with support any time an agent needs it). The metrics gathered from this process are then tracked each week to ensure continuous improvement across the team.
Since taking on the role of Team Leader I’ve also come to learn the true meaning of the word busy! It’s no mean feat successfully juggling putting in hours on live chat (need to keep those skills up to scratch!), keeping my team updated on new information from clients and training new and existing Live Chat Agents. I also need to make sure that my team is continuously improving and their progress is being reported accurately and regularly (who knew one person could need to track so much information?!)
But I wouldn’t have it any other way! My working week flies by these days, and I get real satisfaction from helping my team members be the best that they can, so that we can really deliver for our clients.
If you’d asked me six months ago, what’s the best decision you’ve ever made? I’d have said starting to work as a Live Chat Agent for The Chat Shop. Now, that comes second to taking on my new Team Leader role. I love starting work every day knowing that I’m helping the agents in my team, helping to grow The Chat Shop as a business and helping our clients to grow their businesses.