Published: May 24, 2012 | Comments (1)
Contact center agents must be well versed in the products and services they assist with, no matter the industry. E-learning provides an array of benefits for getting agents up to speed.
Contact centers differ widely depending on the industry they serve, but they all share one common feature: agents must be well-versed in the company’s products and services to provide superior service to its customers.
Customer Demands and Static Learning
Agents in both outbound and inbound contact centers must anticipate customer requests through training on proprietary and general content. While outbound agents can narrow the range of customer questions based on the offer they are promoting, agents receiving inbound communications typically require a higher level of education due to the variety of customer requests.
But traditional training can be very costly, especially if it is organized in block sessions, or statically, because the agents are not answering phone calls during that time and are completely unproductive.
The Benefits of E-Learning
E-coaching, or e-learning, has become increasingly prevalent for contact centers both as a training instrument and in combination with classroom instruction (blended learning). E-learning can be accessed anywhere and anytime, so agents do not need to show up at a fixed time or location. Virtual contact centers with agents working from home can educate their staff in a flexible manner depending on individual needs and abilities.
In addition, new information, perhaps based on modifications to a product, or even on-the-fly analysis of customer reactions to a campaign, can be easily disseminated and reviewed at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Economics of E-Learning
E-learning content is easily produced and can take many different shapes such as text, images, audio streams or even videos. Once generated, it can be accessed as often as required and without the need for a personal trainer. The system also minimizes down time for agents because they can access the e-learning based on the call volume and other demands on their time.
E-learning also facilitates the supervisor’s job because it helps them verify if the agent accessed the information and how well it was understood. Agents can also learn more efficiently, according to their individual needs and weak spots, unlike learning in groups where agent knowledge levels differ, and an instructor must bring everyone along according to the lowest common denominator.
E-Learning Processes and Components
Until now, identification of training needs was assessed manually, either through side-by-side coaching or agent monitoring. Supervisors or coaches would review and assign instruction to each staff member according to their interpretation of the agent’s needs.
Today, this process can be supplemented automatically, without direct interactions that can occasionally result in misunderstandings and wrong decisions; or sometimes be affected by personal relationships. However, only a few workforce optimization solutions in the market currently provide this comprehensive capability through sophisticated speech analytics that automatically identify the specific training needs of each agent.
Integrated solutions that feature conversation recording, quality monitoring and resource planning go one step further by planning agent activities through workforce management, and ensure that the right agent in the right place handles the right calls at the right time. In addition to scheduling the required e-learning instruction according to the training needs identified either manually by the supervisor or automatically through artificial intelligence, the results of these courses can be verified in an ongoing process to ensure the training was successful.
Optimizing agent training in contact centers can create a continuous loop of learning with communications recording and speech analytics to assess the ever-changing weak points of each agent. Allowing agents to train when the volume of calls is lowest minimizes down time and increases individual productivity. Supplementing the assessment of supervisors provides a backup system to ensure agents are properly evaluated and, with workforce management, are properly assigned. The whole process works together smoothly and ensures the best possible quality of customer interactions.