ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Rev Up Your Call Center Training and Development Initiatives

More than a billion dollars ($134.07 billion) – that's the amount ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) estimates U.S. organizations spend annually on employee learning and development. This amount reflects direct learning expenditures such as the training function’s staff salaries, administrative learning costs and non-salary delivery costs (including activities performed by an external resource), according to ASTD's "2009 State of the Industry Report."

Customer satisfaction studies indicate that first contact resolution and knowledgeable employees are high on list of elements required to build strong customer relationships. And these same elements can only be accomplished if the employee has the tools, knowledge and skills to easily and effectively respond to those customers' inquiries. In addition, employee engagement studies also indicate that the "opportunity to grow and development" is a key ingredient in creating a "great place to work." So what this (not to mention the cost associated with losing customers and/or employees) indicates/suggests is that the development of your employees is a wise investment.

So how do you ensure you're getting the most from your investment?

Often we get caught up in the "new and improved" and/or we keep doing what we've always done...so how about we go back to basics. Remember the 3 R's of that very first learning experience we had...reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Well, how about we apply a different set of "Rs" to the learning we do at work as adults to help us ensure that we get the most from our training programs and processes.

Here are seven "R"s that can rev up your training and development initiatives along with some questions you and your center can use to boost the success or leverage the success and effectiveness of your agent training (new-hire and existing):

The "R" Questions to Ask Yourself/Your Center

1. Reinforce. What they learn in training is only effective if it is applied on the floor.

  • How is that learning reinforced on the floor?
  • Are your supervisors/managers held accountable for reinforcement? If so, how?
  • Do your supervisors/managers attend the training programs their teams do? (Have all supervisors/managers attended new hire training? How about any ongoing training?)

2. Refresh. Along with reinforcement; they may need a "refresher" on the subject matter -- this is especially true of new-hire training.

  • How often do we provide agents with "refresher" training?
  • How much time passes before agents have the opportunity to apply what they learned? (For example, we tell them about a particular process to follow on a call type; then they don't actually get that call type for 2-3 weeks after the training.)

3. Report. Report on the success of the training process/program. how do you measure training...activity (how many training programs they've attended) or results.

  • How do you measure training?
  • Are we going beyond reporting on "activity" (number of individuals trained and/or how many liked it) to reporting on results (the impact of that training on customer satisfaction, revenue, etc.

4. Remember/review adult learning principles. Adults have different learning needs than children, and our learning events need to consider and address the various adult learning principles (see Adult Learning Principles in the chart below)

  • Do we offer a variety of methods to deliver training?
  • In our classroom training, do we have a variety of learning activities to address the different needs of learners?

5. Revitalize. New tools, techniques and options in the learning space are available all the time.

  • When was the last time your training programs/processes/tools reviewed, updated and renewed?!

6. Recognize/reward top performers by having them do parts of your training

  • Are there opportunities to recognize top performers in your training processes? (For example, conduct lunch-and-learns; assist in training reinforcement; assist with development of training activities by providing input/feedback; job aids, etc.)

7. Reach out to your business partners to ensure that our programs/processes also meet/reflect the organization's initiatives/goals. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of being an afterthought -- "Oops! We forgot to tell you that we put the contact center’s phone number on a direct mail piece." Know that whatever we can do to break down those silos between various functional areas is a move in the right direction.

  • Do you/How can you utilize your training initiatives to Not assist you in meeting the needs of your center and the organization by involving your business partners?
  • What opportunities exist to involve internal (QA, WFM etc.) and external (Marketing, IT, etc.) functions in your training process?

Adult Learning Principles
1. Learn faster when there is WIIFM (what is in it for me?)
2. Prefer to learn at their own pace
3. Prefer training that has "real-world applications"
4. Like to participate in the learning experience
5. Judge the usefulness training by past experience
6. Learn more effectively from peers & recognized experts
7. Learn more efficiently when their unique learning style is predominant
8. Favor a variety of sensory modes for learning
9. Learn more effectively through hands on exercises
10. Monitor their own learning and discover their own answers
Source: "How to Create a Good Learning Environment" (ASTD Info-Line)

We invest heavily in training and development to ensure customer, employee and organization/shareholder satisfaction. So let's be sure we are getting the highest return on that investment by taking the time to reinforce, refresh, report, review, reach out, recognize, and revitalize our training processes!

Rose Polchin is a Senior Consultant and Certified Trainer for ICMI. [email protected]