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.


Make Training Count: Build Training Into the WFM Schedule

Continuing my series, Make Training Count: 10 Tips to Increase ROI, here is my ninth tip:

Make sure the WFM team (in partnership with leadership) has effectively built training into their staffing plans (shrinkage) and that appropriate guidelines and thresholds for when to move/cancel training are built into the real time recovery plan.

When we aren't meeting our service level or accessibility goals, what is the first activity to get moved or canceled? Usually, training. Training tends to be an easy target to get time back when we need it. While canceling, moving or shortening training may seem like the right thing to do "in the moment" to ensure that the customer can get through to us, a look at the long term effects might reveal a different story. Most training is designed to improve job-related skills, such as to teach about new products, better customer service skills, relationship building, compliance etc. So, what long-term impact or risk does canceling that training have on the customer, the employee or the organization? Does that long-term impact or risk outweigh the short-term ones?

We know that in the business world, especially one that is as dynamic as the contact center, plans and schedules may need adjustment. The question is how often are these changes being made? If the answer is "way too often!”, then it is time to take a closer look at why.

Let's start with the obvious question: Why did we have to cancel training in the first place?

To find the root cause, here are few questions you can explore:

  • Was this just a one-time event that couldn't be planned for in advance (e.g. surprise ice storm) or is this a regular occurrence?
  • If it is a regular occurrence, then we need to take a look at what, when and how we are building our training and other shrinkage activities into our staffing models and scheduling process.
  • Are we realistically accounting for all the things that keep our representatives from being part of our customer-facing staff?
    Brainstorm, keep digging and when you've identified all the potential root causes, start sorting them:
  • Which causes are out of your control? For example, freak weather patterns that caused a surge in calls so training had to be canceled.
  • Which causes are within your control? For example, by effectively managing your team's adherence to schedule so that we don’t lose extra time and then have to get it back from training time.
  • Which causes appear to be out of your direct control, but you may have indirect influence to change? For example, if Marketing didn't tell you again about sending out a direct mail piece with the contact center's phone number on it. This might appear to be "out of your control" however, you can work with Marketing, or any of your business partners for that matter, to educate them on the contact center and how you can better assist and support them when you are part of their planning process.

Now you've got a place to start! Again, we all know there will be times when canceling training is the only option…the goal is to make that the exception and not the rule!