How To Balance BOTH Customer Service Agent Training AND Competing Demands

How To Balance BOTH Customer Service Agent Training AND Competing Demands

The Importance of Prioritizing Agent Training in Contact Centers

Customer Service leaders continue to face a paradoxical challenge – balancing the high volume of customer demands with the need to provide ongoing agent training and development. While it is important to ensure that agents handle as many calls as possible, neglecting their learning and development can negatively impact service levels and agent retention too.

So why do some contact center managers not make agent training a higher priority? I asked a few leaders and discovered that they view agent training as unnecessary and that the time spent on learning and development programs takes away from handling customer calls. Additionally, they see agent training as a one-time event rather than an ongoing process (indicating they overlook its importance.)

On the flip side, many best-in-class leaders believe agent training is an important investment and advocate for BOTH learning and development programs AND balancing contact center demands, especially during talent shortages. This approach yields better results for agents and, ultimately, customers too.

5 Strategies For Effectively Training Agents When Teams Are Stretched

  1. Incorporate Microlearning into Agent Training Programs: Provide bite-sized information that is easier to absorb and retain. Also, increase efficiency by using technology such as E-Learning Modules and Virtual on-demand training to complete at their convenience.
  2. Create a Mentorship Program: Provide ongoing coaching and support to allow agents to continue developing their skills and knowledge. Also, encourage cross-training. Allow agents to have a broader understanding of the contact center’s operations, leading to increased collaboration and a more cohesive team.
  3. Schedule Training During Non-Peak Times: Create learning opportunities during slower periods to minimize the impact on customer service operations.
  4. Utilize Gamification Techniques: Make training more enjoyable and effective by incorporating rewards and recognition into learning programs.
  5. Create a Culture of Learning and Development: Establish a supportive workplace through regular coaching, feedback, and incentives initiatives.


Investing in agent training is essential for improving customer satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. There are real ROI benefits that become visible over time.

Aent training does not need to be an either/or situation but rather a “Both/And” win-win opportunity.

Learn about the benefits of “Both/And” mindset and ways to thrive with multiple knotted tensions happening at the same time.

Check out my conversation with Wendy Smith, a Professor at the Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware. She has done extensive research on strategic paradoxes and how leaders and senior teams can effectively respond to contradictory yet interdependent demands. I believe it relates to contact center investment decisions too.

I encourage you to get Wendy’s book co-authored with Marianne Lewis, as you’ll quickly understand our brains love to make either-or choices, and that we choose one option over the other. Yet, there’s a better way through Both/And thinking!

Golden Ticket to Customer Experience Event

Golden Ticket to Customer Experience Event

Win Golden Ticket to Invite-Only Customer Experience Event on 2/16/23. 

Are you a customer experience professional looking to take your skills to the next level? Then you will want to take advantage of an opportunity to attend the exclusive CX Executive event.

Hosted by 3 Tree Tech, this event brings some of the industry’s top leaders to share insights, network, and explore the latest trends in customer experience.  

And the best part?

One lucky subscriber to my DoingCXRight Newsletter will win a golden ticket to the customer experience event and get FREE event registration, airfare, and hotel accommodations.

Who is eligible to enter?

Customer experience executives and leaders interested in advancing CX skills and taking their brand to the next level. This offer is not eligible for people outside the USA.

Why attend? 

Not only will you have the chance to hear from top industry leaders and network with peers, but you’ll also have the opportunity to gain valuable insights and knowledge that you can apply to your own work. This CX event is the perfect platform for learning, growth, and professional development.

When can you enter the free giveaway? 

Right now, until the golden ticket drawing takes place on February 9. 

Where will the customer experience event take place? 

The CX invite-only forum is an in-person event held in Portland, Oregon, at the tech team’s HQ. (Food and beverages are not just provided, but delicious.)

How can you win the golden ticket? 

Entering is easy! Subscribe to DoingCXRight (form below) by February 9, and you’ll be automatically entered into the customer experience golden ticket drawing.  

NOTE: I’ll share your contact info with 3 Tree Tech so they can pick a name and notify you of winning. Offer is available only to people in the USA!

More info about the customer experience event. 

The customer experience event will feature speakers from Fortune 1000 companies that have proven to be change agents within the technology space. In addition, you will hear from speakers presenting concrete steps they took to drive change to bring better visibility, improve risk mitigation, increase the adoption of automated frameworks, and other topics. This event is invite-only.  

Details about 3TreeTech event >HERE




SVP of Customer Experience

Michelle has over 20 years of marketing experience and 13 years of product development and account management experience. She’s been transforming customer experience for organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Martinez is a pro at understanding how customers make decisions and rely on you to solve their problems. She loves to work at the intersection of all things customer experience – product, service, brand, technology, analytics, marketing, and more. She knows when you get that right, it becomes your most significant growth driver.



Lead Product Manager - Contact Center Technology

Tim has over 20 years of professional experience crossing telecom, insurance, and most recently retail.  His cross-discipline background covers project/portfolio/product management, finance management, operations strategy, and technology strategy.  A common thread throughout these experiences is how to sell and prove the business case around optimization initiatives.  Moving from core system IT investment to Robotic Process Automation to most recently, contact center optimization Tim has influenced C-suite leaders and understands the pragmatic realities of rationalizing and proving a success.With the pivot from core system to customer service, Tim has become customer-obsessed and roots product vision in reinvented customer experiences…without forgetting there is still a dollars and cents story to tell as well.  Tim is excited to share stories about how putting the customer first drives bottom-line value.

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Contact info will be shared w/ 3 Tree to choose winner

By subscribing here, you are permitting Stacy to share your email with the sponsor for a chance to win the golden ticket. There will be one lucky winner selected on Feb 9.


The Rise of AI Robots in Customer Service: How Humans and Bots Can Co-Exist

The Rise of AI Robots in Customer Service: How Humans and Bots Can Co-Exist

As technology advances, we have become accustomed to interacting with automated solutions like IVRs and chatbots for customer service. These systems have streamlined many processes, allowing us to get answers and support quickly and efficiently when companies follow CX best practices. However, the paradigm is changing, whereby it’s not just humans contacting customer care departments but also AI robots acting on behalf of humans too.

DoNotPay, for example, is launching an AI robot that interacts with customer service agents through live chat or emails to negotiate bills, cancel a subscription, pay parking tickets, and more. So what are the ramifications? At a minimum, employee and agent communication skill building and training need modification. “Robot CX” is becoming a real thing.  

 CX Best Practices When Interacting With AI Robots

  1. Don’t make assumptions. Take time to understand the capabilities of the AI robot. Many chatbots are built on top of existing rule-based systems, which means they are limited in the types of conversations they can handle. So, be aware of what it can and can’t do to manage expectations and reduce frustration. As emerging technology rapidly advances, get educated, so you are always prepared and ready.
  2. Be Impeccable With Your Words: Use concise and simple language. Avoid negative terms, sarcasm, jargon, and technical phrases that the AI robot may not comprehend, leading to longer talk time and aggravation. Likewise, be mindful of legal compliance. The same regulations apply whether conversing with a robot or a human. Everything is trackable so never let your guard down.
  3. Don’t take anything personally: AI robots are not human with emotions. Interacting with bots can be stressful and a test of patience. So, remember that the perceived lack of empathy or understanding is not personally against you. Stay calm and composed. Take deep breaths.
  4. Always do your best:  Focus on delivering meaningful customer experiences, whether human or robot. Robot CX is a strange concept, but it’s a reality, so adopt the changes, or your competitors will outpace you.

Note to reader: If you have yet to read my favorite book, The Four Agreements, I recommend you do so, which is the basis of my above recommendations. The Four Agreements is life-changing for personal growth and incredibly valuable for leading business transformation, as I explain in my other article.

People must approach conversations with an AI Robot as if they are interacting with a human customer.

The lines are getting blurry as to who is on the other side of the customer call or online chat. So, always be friendly, helpful, informative, and impeccable with your words. Likewise, avoid taking anything personally or making assumptions. And do your best when negotiating or solving an issue. Get educated on AI robot capabilities and adapt problem-solving strategies.

While I’m expressing views about human-to-bot interactions, there will soon be robots handling complaints and questions from another bot. Will they argue? Will they get frustrated like humans? It’s kind of funny to imagine, yet, challenging to comprehend too. Time will tell. Buckle your seatbelts as we’re in for an interesting journey.



Avoiding Customer Disruptions: Lessons Learned From Southwest Airlines’ Cancellations

Avoiding Customer Disruptions: Lessons Learned From Southwest Airlines’ Cancellations

Southwest Airlines experienced a wave of mass cancellations, causing frustration and inconvenience for many travelers. I predict universities will use this as a case study for years to come, highlighting customer experience lessons, including how it takes a lifetime to build a brand, an excellent reputation, and a moment to destroy it!

Some Reasons For Southwest Airlines’ Massive Disruptions

According to many news publications, Southwest Airlines cancellations were caused by a combination of factors, including increased travel demand, a shortage of pilots due to the pandemic, and nationwide storms impacting the airline’s ability to operate as usual. While these issues were beyond the control of the airline, there were also factors within the company’s control that likely contributed to the chaos, such as poor planning by leadership, inadequate workforce management, outdated technology, inefficient digital tools, and lack of communication and transparency with employees and customers.

An Avoidable Factor For Massive Customer Dissatisfaction

Customer service’s lack of prompt support is a considerable factor that worsens the situation. According to the CNN article, people have reported being unable to reach an agent at Southwest’s customer contact center to rebook flights or locate lost luggage.

Employees have also indicated difficulties in communicating with the airline. This has caused a ripple effect, leading to further frustration and inconvenience for travelers. According to Captain Casey Murray, the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association president, “we’ve been having these issues for the past 20 months, and it has to do with outdated processes and outdated IT.” I can’t help but wonder how this happens with a brand known for intentionally being so customer-centric. Will the company ever regain customer trust and loyalty? Time will tell.

Ways You Can Reduce Customer Experience Disruptions:

1. Regularly review current technology in place to ensure everything is operating efficiently and effectively and invest in new tools to handle emergencies as they arise. Don’t be short-sighted!

2. Proactively manage customer expectations and communicate timely updates across multiple digital channels. It helps to reduce negative emotions and anxiety that linger for a while.

3. Plan ahead, hire sufficient staff or outsource to skilled talent to handle peak seasons. The gig economy is booming, and I predict it will continue to be a workforce trend for a long time.

4. Invest in customer service systems and resources to address concerns or complaints promptly and provide assistance or compensation when necessary. Empower and educate agents to rectify problems when mistakes happen. If you don’t have enough people, lean on Business Processing Outsourcing Solutions (BPO), such as a virtual flex platform provided by Liveops.

In conclusion, the mass cancellations at Southwest Airlines serve as a reminder of the importance of planning ahead for unexpected challenges and investing in the right technology, digital tools, and human resources. By doing so, companies can mitigate the impact of disruptions and maintain the customer confidence needed to stay in business and thrive.

Thought Leader Views:

Daniel Pink writes about the “POWER OF REGRET & how looking backward moves us forward.” I bet Southwest airlines have tons of regrets now, as it caused a colossal customer experience problem!
I asked the 7x best-selling author his perspective: will the company recover? Were the issues avoidable? Listen below to our conversation. More at
Differentiating Customer Service vs. Customer Experience and Trends

Differentiating Customer Service vs. Customer Experience and Trends

Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right Podcast - Hosted by Stacy Sherman
Doing CX Right podcast show on iHeart Radio with host Stacy Sherman

Customer experience & customer service are both important. Yet, they are not the same.

Stacy Sherman and Max Ball, Principal Analyst at Forrester, discuss the differences and leadership best practices so you are doing both right for long-term success.  Additional topics include:

  • Where user experience UX sits within customer experience and customer service and the value of user experience in designing new products and services.
  • Important trends, such as gig CX and chatbot deployment, impacting how people feel about a brand and the likelihood to stay, recommend, etc.
  • Ways to leverage AI, artificial intelligence, to understand the voice of your customer beyond surveys and improve contact center and agent efficiencies.
  • A sampling of AI platforms and solutions that you may want to look into, keeping in mind that this show is vendor agnostic. Also, a case study on the financial benefit of deploying AI and reducing customer friction.
  • Leadership tips and best advice given and received

Listen, learn and pay it forward.

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About Max Ball

Principal Analyst at Forrester. Spent a significant amount of time at a number of great companies, including Genesys Telecommunications, Edify Corporation, and IBM. Max is a strategic thinker who likes rolling up his sleeves and getting things done, a dynamic presenter, and a passionate evangelist. His experiences span across:

13 years of Product Marketing and Product Management experience
4 years of Sales Engineering and Sales Management experience
6 years of Training and Training Management experience
4 years of Professional Services experience

Learn more: Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®‬

An award-winning certified marketing and customer experience (CX) corporate executive, speaker, author, and podcaster, known for DoingCXRight®. She created a Heart & Science™ framework that accelerates customer loyalty, referrals, and revenue, fueled by engaged employees and customer service representatives. Stacy’s been in the trenches improving experiences as a brand differentiator for 20+ years, working at companies of all sizes and industries, like Liveops, Schindler elevator, Verizon, Martha Steward Craft, AT&T++.   Stacy is on a mission to help people DOING, not just TALKING about CX, so real human connections & happiness exist. Continue reading bio >here.