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Crawl, Walk, Then Run: 3 Training Tips to Boost Agent Performance

Published: June 13, 2013 | By: Matt McConnell

The cat is out of the bag. Sixty-nine percent of contact center leaders say agent training positively impacts customer satisfaction. Yet, despite its effectiveness on quality and performance results, 46 percent of the same respondents don’t train their agents frequently. Notice a disconnect?

Most of the traditional methods used to manage agent performance just aren’t working anymore for contact centers. The ongoing operational demands, combined with the budget restraints and resource limitations have left many coming up short when it comes to developing and effectively training their front line. And many contact centers find themselves delivering the same cookie-cutter training for their entire workforce. The result is uninspiring training sessions for agents and lackluster results for your dashboard. Instead, consider a “crawl, walk, run” approach to maximize performance results using personalized agent training.

A contact center’s journey to achieving a high-performance culture isn’t an easy feat – it’s marked by milestones. Take your agent performance from its first wobbly steps to running at full speed using the “crawl, walk, then run” method below.

Crawl back to the basics.

By its nature, training should be targeted, but it’s difficult for managers to create digestible content that doesn’t require half-day sessions due to scheduling limitations. After all, you want to be sure your agents are able to take in as much as possible. However, adult learning theory affirms that short lessons have the best chance at retention. This concept is clearly important in a fast-paced environment like the contact center where the unplanned nature of calls gives agents less control over their day than most. So, remember to focus on first things first. A 15-minute learning break allows a short break for targeted information that is used on the next call for maximum reinforcement.

Walk the walk with personalized training.

Even if training is provided frequently, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t provide maximum value. If the center and the agent invest time in training, it should meet the needs of both. An agent does not want to be trained on something that isn’t relevant to their needs, and the center doesn’t want to train an agent on an area at which he or she excels if there is another area that needs improving. Basing individualized training on performance meets the targeted criteria and provides the highest value.

According to recent data, we retain 5 percent of what we see/hear, 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent with a visual and 30 percent with a demonstration. Create quick quizzes at the end of training sessions to help agents retain more information and “walk the walk” by giving them ample opportunity to apply their new skill set.

Run circles around your performance goals by finding time for training.

Too often training is an infrequent occasion as opposed to a consistent, systemic part of the contact center operation. Many centers provide agents with access to a learning management system or knowledge base with the hopes that agents will go get the information and knowledge they need. Considering the enormous pressures to meet service levels, it isn’t hard to figure out why so much of what is scheduled doesn’t occur and why agents don’t often take the initiative to get the information they need when they need it. Yet dips in call volume occur when agents have little to do. The underutilized asset in this equation is this down time between calls. Pushing training to your agents during these small pockets of down time is the only way to ensure training happens frequently.

A Last Word

Performance-based training gives you the ability to deliver the right training to the right agent at the right time. By embedding a measurement system that shows how much, who is getting training as well as its link to performance, constant improvement through training becomes systemic.

This article was originally posted on the Melissa Kovacevic’s Customer Service blog.


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