Published: February 16, 2021 | Comments
"Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit." –C. William Pollard, Chairman of Fairwyn Investment Company
I recall eight years ago when I spoke to my mentor, Erik Boshuizen from the International Board of Certified Trainers (IBCT), about a challenge I was facing as a trainer. The call center management team had asked to reduce the class duration from four weeks down to less than three weeks since they needed the trainees on the phones to assist with high call volume.
Boshuizen thought this was a huge mistake.
"You can bake a cake for the required time, which is about 40 minutes or so, or you can also bake it for 20 minutes,” he said. "When you bake it for 20 minutes, you're serving a 20-minute cake that doesn't taste right or falls apart."
This conversation helped me understand the importance of allowing the learning process enough time to enable the trainee to absorb the information and be able to transfer skills and knowledge learned into the job. You cannot rush a training or skimp on aspects of it and have things turn our right.
The Right Ingredients
Some of the essential ingredients of good training are a combination of the following:
Instructor-led training (ILT)
ILT sessions are the best way to deliver learning to an audience. I use stories to keep the class engaged and provide a more significant impact on the lesson learned.
Web-based training (WBT)
I schedule WBT courses close to an ILT session, which covers similar ILT session components. It's an excellent practice to re-introduce trainees to the same information in various methods.
These come in the form of knowledge checks, retrieval games, crossword puzzles, scavenger hunts, practice sessions, to name a few.
This is my attempt to review a previously covered topic as a whiteboard exercise that summarizes the key facts. This session is very similar to a mind map.
If I'm demonstrating a navigation step, I will have the class follow the steps with me, and then we practice a few more examples before progressing on to the next section. These demonstration sessions also help me reiterate information covered during an ILT or WBT session, such as finding the amount a caller needs to pay within the account balance field.
Here, we pay consideration to a few main areas while reviewing the call, including the level of customer service, the steps to authenticate a caller before an agent can divulge account-specific information, and the accuracy of the information provided.
This is where it all comes together - the information learned, call scripts, and navigation.
There's nothing better than learning from the real thing, where the trainee spends time with a seasoned agent to initially listen to calls, which gradually moves to the trainee taking calls, with support included.
All of the ingredients mentioned above take time. Though it's possible to make adjustments to accommodate the class, based on either the trainees or trainers' feedback, I do my best not to skip out on any steps that add value to the learning experience and information retention.
When you invest the time to get training right the first time, check for gaps in knowledge, and fill those gaps, you're going to have fewer callbacks and frustrated callers. Further, from a human resources perspective, agents that transition too soon from the training class to the call center without a full grasp of the required skills and knowledge end up feeling frustrated, which leads to 75% of the trainees leaving in the first two months. The amount of time and financial resources put into vetting candidates and training now becomes a dead investment, and still leaves you needing to fill seats to assist with call volume.
So it pays to not cut corners. If you’re going to train new employees, you might as well do it right.