Training is an essential component of call center operations. It is important at all levels and is often the secret weapon for getting poorly performing centers to “Top Drawer” status. Research at BenchmarkPortal suggests that when building or reviewing training initiatives, focus and attention should be given to two specific areas: measuring value and outcome, and modularization.
When considering value and outcome, managers should look for a return on the investment (ROI) of the time that agents are taking away from the productive work of handling customer calls, i.e. are you getting your money’s worth? Before managers take a group of agents off the phone for training, it is important to know what behavior changes, and what changes in outcome are expected. Therefore, trainers must be able to document changes in the performance and behavior of agents, and develop training initiatives that target metrics and behaviors that are measurable. In some cases, the ROI of the training initiative may be realized in a cost reduction by decreasing average handle time and/or transferred calls. It may increase first call resolution or caller satisfaction – also important goals.
All too often training becomes too cumbersome, too boring, and too much information for agents to retain at one time, especially in new-hire agent training. It is unrealistic that the agent will retain everything from week two in a 6-week training program. For these reasons the modularization of training becomes a prime solution. Simply put, modularization means putting training into bite-sized pieces. A key for successful modularization of training initiatives is to put the training where it fits.
When developing training, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it necessary that the training be conducted in a classroom?
- Can it be web-based?
- Can it be provided through e-learning modules?
In addition to an overall reduction in time of delivery, modularization has many benefits, including:
- Redundancy: once training modules are created, content can be repeated as needed.
- Maintenance: it is infinitely easier to update and/or correct modules than entire courses.
- Availability: through e-learning and web-based modules, agents can learn during times that are to them the most convenient, comfortable, and conducive to learning.
- Efficiency: modules are often easily distributed, especially when a trainer or proctor is not required. This means that larger audiences are available to receive the training.
Other aspects of building efficient and effective training programs include:
- Managers should deliver modules on corporate history/culture during new-hire training;
- Develop profiles for trainers – it’s not always the best agent that makes the best trainer.
- Avoid using e-mail correspondence as a method of training delivery. It doesn’t always work.
- Get agent feedback on the value of the training presented. Measure their direct response upon completion of the training, and then 15- to 30-days post completion to evaluate their retention and their perceptions on the effectiveness of the training learned.
Training is a process. It requires a plan that includes an understanding of needs, goals and requirements, and a strategy for its successful accomplishment. Remember to give ample consideration to these basic success factors: who shall deliver the training, a trainer, subject matter expert, manager? What content shall the training include and what are the expected outcomes in terms of performance and behavior: reduced handle time? Increased customer satisfaction? When, where and how shall training occur? Consider all the options for each learning need: instructor-led classroom, web-based, live video conferencing, webinar. A thorough review of your training approaches and materials can result in a happier, more productive center.
Tip of The Week: Understand why training is needed and what the training is supposed to accomplish. Document your content, processes, and delivery methods. Be consistent.
This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamál Webb. It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with Dayne Petersen, entitled “Call Center Training”. To listen click play below:
CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore. “Caramels” distills key moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.