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How to Train Tenured Agents on New Techniques and Technologies

At Ubiquity Global Services, a business process outsourcing (BPO) organization operating in the US, El Salvador and the Philippines, we dedicate a lot of time to learning and development and specialization in industries of expertise. One of the challenges of the increasingly multi-channel contact center is getting more tenured agents up to speed and onboard with new technologies, products, or services.

Tenured agents often require a different training approach, as they are already experts on a product or set of products. Unless the topic is entirely new, it’s essential that the training remains interesting, moves quickly enough and doesn’t begin with basics that will make it difficult to hold participant’s interest. Like any instruction, the efficacy is determined largely by the engagement of the participants. We have found that using a lot of simulations and activities helps to foster participant engagement, ultimately resulting in a shorter learning curve. 

As we train tenured agents, we don’t focus on service basics or product knowledge. Instead, we focus on giving agents a toolset to deal with specific situations that are targeted to improve the experience and make customers feel valued. We spend a lot of time simulating these situations and having agents practice the skills, making them their own. It’s important for agents to speak with their own voice and own the content they’re presenting to customers – instead of sounding scripted.

Recently, one of our clients expanded the distribution method for one of their product lines. For products distributed by this new channel, there was a new set of processes that needed to be followed. To ensure maximum operational flexibility, as the sales volumes for the product were largely unknown prior to launch, we elected to train our entire existing agent base on the new product line.

But when it comes to tenured agents, specifically, what steps can you take to ensure successful training?  I would offer up the following advice:

1. Simulation works best:  Allow agents to practice the skills, and make them their own. Show, rather than tell. It’s important for agents to speak with their own voice and own the content they’re presenting to customers – instead of sounding scripted.

2. Focus on development: Our agents know they have a career at Ubiquity Global Services. They feel valued and heard and know we are invested in their development and their future. When training new skills, it’s valuable to focus on the enhanced responsibility set being given and the importance of their growing skills to their career development.

Bildung Blocks is the name for our comprehensive approach to employee development. Bildung is a German word that, while difficult to translate, speaks to self-cultivation, education and formation. These are principles we embody in our development program.

At a tactical level, all of our employees receive daily education from their manager. This is very practical education, focused on development of skills. All employees also receive weekly business reviews with their manager to discuss their career development. We also offer a wealth of training on various topics throughout the month that agents may attend at their option.

3. Provide reviews and feedback – daily education and weekly reviews work best for us. Agents are always developing their skills and receiving feedback on their progress. This daily iterative feedback dramatically improves upon the more standard approach of leaving training entirely to the training room and quality assurance processes.