Training is an integral activity in contact centers, whether that be new hire onboarding or ongoing training and development of agents. However, with so many other business priorities, training doesn’t always get the love and attention it deserves. Even in those organizations where training is a cultural cornerstone, providing meaningful, engaging, and effective training is still a challenge. We’ve touched on some simple ways to improve your training program in the past, and have some additional tips to take your training program to the next level.
Visible leadership commitment to training
Leadership needs to “walk the talk” when it comes to training. Leaders often verbally communicate the importance of training, but their actions contradict that sentiment. Often in contact centers, trainings are scheduled but then cancelled and pushed to the side the moment things get busy. While meeting short-term customer demands are an utmost priority, developing your agents to support your customers in the long-term is equally important. Contact centers should make training a priority, and occasionally decide whether a one-day dip in Service Levels is worth a longer-term performance return. One way to help mitigate this time-allocation tug-of-war is to factor in some extra shrinkage when scheduling to ensure you have enough agents scheduled to cover those agents who will be in training. Another consideration is to have multiple shifts for trainings, thus minimizing the impact of those agents off the phone at training.
Ensure opportunities for quick application of learnings
When it comes to training, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Thus, to ensure that training concepts “stick” in your agents’ behaviors and processes, look for opportunities for quick application in daily work. Did agents just attend training on a new ticketing system? Assign them homework to create a ticket in the new system within the next business day to ensure that they really learned how to do it. Also, depending on the topic, another way to drive application is to incorporate components of the concepts or processes learned into the quality evaluation forms used to assess performance.
Integrate new topics and themes
Sometimes corporate training can make you feel like you’re living in the movie “Groundhog’s Day” – the same exact topic, but just on a different day with a slightly different spin. It is inevitable that you will need to train on the same topic again, especially given contact center turn-over and compliance requirements. However, try your best to incorporate new themes, examples, or training approaches to make it feel less redundant. Also, if there are more tenured folks that have already mastered the concepts, don’t require them to attend unless truly necessary.
Don’t assume you know what training they need
Although you probably have a good pulse on the contact center’s training gaps, don’t make assumptions on what training is needed. Poll your staff to understand which concepts or processes they are struggling with the most, and train on those items first. Additionally, engaging the team in your curriculum plans fosters engagement and buy-in for the training.