One of the most vital components of any contact center is the training department. No matter what kind of center you operate, it’s critical that those interacting with customers possess and maintain a solid understanding of the overall business, as well as its practices and procedures. Having an in-house training team provides a myriad of benefits to any center. Having a dedicated team of trainers on your payroll is a cost-effective way to bring agents up to speed and continually be improving their performance. Being constantly available not only helps them build and maintain solid rapport with the staff they are training, but also provides you with flexibility to respond quickly to knowledge gaps and changes to customer service protocols.
Training is an important investment to make in your workforce and development of future leaders. So how does one go about creating an effective and efficient training team? There are no foolproof blueprints that apply to every situation, but there are definitely some pointers that everyone should keep in mind when building this vital and important team.
Outline Your Needs
Because every business is different, each contact center will have its own set of goals and desired outcomes. You can’t achieve success if you don’t know what success is. Some example goals that are commonly used within training organizations include:
- Comprehension scores (i.e., test/quizzes)
- Taking this one step further, you could complete a comprehension assessment every few days after training
- Initially, focus less on overall quality and more on core competencies
- Class surveys to capture engagement and quality feedback (even daily surveys for longer term training)
- Quality scores for first few weeks out of training
Define what will be required of your new training team. Once you have answers to these questions, it’s time to think about how you can measure the results. This allows you to create baseline performance standards and compare outcomes to expectations so you can continue to make tweaks that align with your goals.
Staffing the Department
Should you promote trainers from within your organization or hire externally? There’s no right answer to this question. However, you should always remember that an employee who is great at DOING a job, isn’t always the best at TEACHING others to do it. So what should you look for in your potential trainers? A good trainer will be a subject-matter expert (SME) in the area for which they will be training. This gives them context and confidence in the topics they are delivering to their audience. Great trainers are patient and have great communication skills, too, which allows them to make the material relatable to their trainees.
Create the Infrastructure
You know what your goals are; now you need to think about how to achieve them. Do you have all of the right tools and software you’ll need? Once you know how the training material will be delivered, you must determine the content of those materials. It’s important to get input from all relevant stakeholders in the creation of that content. If you’re implementing a third party’s program, this is especially critical. For internal projects, make sure to get input from the project manager, supervisors, the trainers themselves, and any other relevant internal departments.
Train, Evaluate, Adapt
Once you’ve got all the basic components in place, the next step is to start training folks. No training will ever be perfect, especially with a freshly built department. After each training class, seek feedback from agents, supervisors and trainers on how the process can be improved. Measure the outcomes of the class on the production floor. Use the data you acquire to make changes and continually improve the process. This step is vital to reaching optimal performance of the new department.
Keep in mind that every contact center is different and has its own unique set of goals and needs. This list should provide a helpful outline to begin planning your new department. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you find out what works for your company. It’s important to always analyze results and adapt along the way to make sure your individual needs are being met.