Agent training shouldn’t stop as soon as the new-hire orientation and initial training period is complete. Contact center training is an ongoing evolutionary process. The goal of any contact center’s ongoing training program is to provide training for the skills necessary to perform the job, plus training for skills necessary to enhance ongoing performance.
In developing an ongoing training program, it’s useful to define what employees need to know and what they should be able to do at defined progress milestones. For each milestone, a checklist should be developed that outlines critical knowledge and skills so that training gaps and performance issues can be identified.
Some typical questions you might ask at each milestone:
- What additional information does each agent need to know?
- What policies and procedures could affect job performance?
- What behaviors should be reinforced?
- What specific tasks can be assigned to allow for growth?
- Is it time to expand the level of authority and empowerment?
- What feedback is required on each agent’s performance?
- What training objectives have been met or not met?
At some point your staff will move from an “initiation” phase to a “competence” phase. This transition occurs at different points for different organizations. Some centers may have a 90 day training period followed by another 90 day initiation phase. Agents in other centers may only receive a two week training period and then be fully competent in their call handling capabilities after another few weeks. Regardless of how long it takes, there is some point when agents discover how things really work and have developed the competencies required for the job. It’s at this point they can work productively most of the time. During this phase, agents also begin to offer suggestions on how their performance can be improved.
Even after agents move into the competency phase, there still needs to be ongoing training for specialized skills based on their job functions. For example, agents responsible for selling may benefit from advanced training, consultative selling or advanced closing techniques. Also, in addition to expanding abilities in their current roles, there may also be opportunities to learn new skills or enhance general skills such as time management, stress management, telephone and email best practices, vocal skills, and written communications skills.
It’s estimated that approximately 25% of employees leave their job due to a lack of training and learning opportunities. E-learning has, in recent years, revolutionized the educational sector and transformed the way in which we look at knowledge and skill acquisition. More than ever e-learning techniques in the contact center provide an effective medium to deliver ongoing training. The cloud has commoditized e-learning. Today, a comprehensive curriculum of e-learning can be accessed online for a fraction of the cost of in-house training. Providers, like TCCS, will even let you evaluate the content as a free trial before taking the plunge. This new affordability means that all contact centers can and should be leveraging the advantages of cloud e-learning for ongoing training in the contact center.