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Measuring the Effectiveness of Training

Two main challenges make it difficult to measure the effectiveness of contact center training:

Change - The constant evolution of the contact center environment, including changes to procedures, goals, and turnover of existing staff means that there is little continuity and no baseline to compare one training session to the next. Even a quantitative metric can become impossible to calibrate if the previous training class was learning an entirely different set of functions from a different group of trainers. When it is time to hire another group of new staff, things may have changed so much that it would be meaningless to say whether one training session was more successful than the other. The effectiveness of training in a fast-moving environment, therefore, can only be judged based on whether it produces agents who meet the current needs, regardless of how they may compare to people hired in the past.

Training effectiveness

Ambiguity - There is a temptation to view every agent's performance, all quality scores, and all KPIs as a referendum on training. While training is the foundation for the agent's success, not everything that ultimately goes on in the office can be directly attributed to training. A sudden change in quality or handle time a year into an agent's tenure, for example, probably cannot be attributed to a failure or success of their initial training. Too many other variables in the business impact the agent's ultimate performance to isolate training as the cause of (or solution to) every trend. It can also be hard to separate agents' individual struggles from the efficacy of the training/trainer overall.

To overcome the obstacles of change and ambiguity, and identify something meaningful about the effectiveness of training, focus on measuring trends and observing specific behaviors during training and within a particular timeframe after training. This article will suggest four ways to measure training, looking at one quantitative and one qualitative approach each during and after the training takes place.

Measuring Training Effectiveness

During Training

Assessment - Quizzes and tests can serve as a precise numerical measure of what information trainees are retaining. They are most effective when they mirror the kinds of questions or functions agents might see in the wild, rather than those meant to trick them with minutia. Even if processes change and the questions on the assessment are not the same from one class to the next, you should expect to see about the same difficulty and therefore about the same success rate across training groups, which can help you calibrate the success of the training.

Engagement - A less formal way to determine if a training session is effective is observing whether everyone is paying attention and staying involved in the training itself. You don't have to wait for assessments or quality monitoring to tell you who is engaged and retaining information during training. Keeping the session lively with interactive games, questions, and different kinds of individual and group learning activities is not only a great way to engage all learners but can itself serve as a means of real-time feedback.

After Training

Time to proficiency - This aggregated metric looks at all the metrics that an individual agent is held accountable to (handle time, quality, calls per hour, number of mistakes, etc.). You should expect these to trend towards the experienced staff norm within a specified ramp-up time. Individual agents are all different in their ramp-up time, but if the overall group average is wildly different, either faster or slower than what you expect, that's a sign to explore what happened in training.

Surveys -Ask questions about what they wish had been covered more thoroughly, what they feel confident doing, and their feelings about the efficacy of training. This can happen through formal surveys or informally through coaching or mentoring sessions. Asking people about their training experience is a good supplement to the actual reported numbers as they ramp up, and can provide valuable context to the quality and productivity numbers being reported.

Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures will help to combat the challenges of change and variable ambiguity as you calibrate the effectiveness of your training. Assessments and time-to-proficiency will help you to isolate specific, measurable areas where training can be improved, while observation and conversation can help to keep training relevant to what agents need to do here and now.