Ongoing learning is vital for professional success and growth. As in many other industries, the contact center provides the opportunity for education in two main ways – through informal mentoring and through more formalized training and e-learning. Through the combination of these methods, team members can gain valuable skills and insights to better perform for the center and for their own professional growth.
Mentoring is a unique and valuable part of professional growth. The structure allows employees and management to establish bonds within the team to pair strengths and weaknesses. One major advantage of mentoring is an informal approach where team members may feel more comfortable asking questions in peer-to-peer environment, and it provides a big opportunity for “soft” skill development around closing and transitioning skills and general communication issues.
On the other hand, e-Learning provides more measurable education opportunities and allows for team members to understand exactly how they are progressing. Assessments give visibility into agent performance and can provide motivation for improvement as well as positive reinforcement for successes. Using both of these approaches brings a rich learning experience to team members and emphasizes the importance of continual learning.
Keep these simple rules in mind for teaching in the contact center, and the experience will be a positive one!
- Form a bond. Mentoring is most effective when the parties involved feel comfortable to ask questions, make mistakes and engage in open dialogue. As the mentor, work on identifying a common interest for quality that you share with your mentee and interlace personal questions into work-related issues.
- Make it an on-going process. Learning isn’t scheduled. Try to instate an open-door policy as a mentor and welcome questions. Learning opportunities present themselves throughout the workday and organically during discussions. Also, don’t allow e-Learning opportunities to become sparse. Take advantage of downtime and encourage ongoing self-education and peer-to-peer sharing.
- Measure Performance. Measurement is critical to evaluating the overall success of the contact center, and it’s equally important for individuals to understand how they are personally performing, particularly in the case of e-Learning and more formalized evaluations. In order to make improvements, team members must have visibility into their individual performance. Tracking progress gives a sense of accomplishment and provides a realistic snapshot of where improvements are needed for both managers and team members. And don’t forget to point out positive milestones; positive reinforcement goes a long way!
- Customize it! Every organization and its needs are unique, so why would we treat them with a generic solution? When adopting learning programs, take into account best practices, but also look beyond template or canned programs that don’t reflect the organization’s culture or unique needs.
- Use Tools. To help make the lessons you’re teaching more real, take advantage of tools available. Simple exercises like demonstration calls or role playing can provide a big benefit to agents and make the experience more relevant. Whether it’s a formal training or on the fly mentoring opportunity, consider what tools at your disposal may help illustrate the point.
- Everyone Needs a Teacher. Even teachers need teachers! Don’t neglect your own education just because you’re helping others. Take advantage of reading materials, training courses and mentoring with your own superiors to continually advance your own knowledge and skills, and to become a better teacher yourself.