Why Training Matters
Illustration by Adam Mullin

Wait a minute, if it’s 2015, shouldn’t we have flying cars by now? Much to the disappointment of Marty McFly from “Back to the Future,” I’m sure, there are lots of things we haven’t quite perfected yet. And while I think we should at least have hoverboards so we can pick up a delicious dehydrated pizza, I will put that thought aside to focus on a very real modern update that can help contact centers reach their 2015 goals. I’m talking about setting goals for your employee training program that will also achieve the larger company goals your organization has set.

Recently I was working with a contact center client that was experiencing low customer satisfaction rates. They thought changing the profile of their new hires could fix the issue. Because I had worked with this company for some time, I knew the quality of their hires was in the top 10% of the labor pool, so I suspected that other factors were at work.

This particular contact center conducted post call surveys to measure customer satisfaction. I asked the managers what they considered to be their top priority, and their answer was customer satisfaction. I asked if they had used the results of the surveys to measure the success of the training, and if they’d modified the training to meet their goal. Their answer was, “Our training is six weeks long, so it’s very good.”

Needless to say, the length of a training program is not an indicator of its effectiveness. Training is more than providing learners with the basic job skills for the position, it is an opportunity to align and realign the workforce with the goals of the organization. Measurement starts by understanding how training furthers these overall goals.

There are several components to a successful training program:

  • Learners are enabled to carry out the activities required by their position.
  • Training is clearly and measurably aligned to business goals.
  • Goals are reached in part through measurable training activities.
  • Training is easily modified to accommodate new goals and new tools.
  • Training, measurement, modification, and retraining are incorporated into a continuous improvement process.

 

Prioritize and Measure

Every contact center has metrics that indicate success or failure, but some contact centers fail to promote those for their staff. If agents are told that average handle time is most critical, then in the next sentence told that customer satisfaction or first call resolution is most important, how can you expect your agents to know what they need to do to be successful? Whether it’s average handle time, first call resolution, customer satisfaction, or customer effort, it’s important to have a short list of your top priorities—in order—that everyone can understand.

This short list will help determine the real focus of training, which might be surprisingly different from your current program. First, identify and share your priorities. In the case of my client, I met with the senior leadership to identify what they considered to be their top priority. Note, not a list of priorities, but the ONE priority that was above all else. They settled on one priority and we were able to create a training program customized to meet this overall goal.

Effective training is your first and best tool for driving your business toward its stated goals. A good program meets the following criteria:

  1. Goals and expectations must be clear from the top.
  2. Training must contribute to increased organizational performance.
  3. Success only occurs if there are positive outcomes.
  4. Non-contributing initiatives must be stopped.
  5. Advance planning and measurement is required to ensure all agents understand the value to clients.
  6. Training modules must match up to an organizational goal.

It is Q1 of a new year, and a fresh opportunity to take your contact center business to new heights. Examine your current training program and ask yourself how the achievement of those goals can move your overall business objectives forward. It might be a while before we have airborne cars with barcode license plates, but at least we’ll be busy in the meantime doing what we do best.

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