Training programs for home-based agents, especially new-hires, should include ongoing personal contact with a support team member—a supervisor, team leader or senior agent—who they can turn to for a quick response to questions and issues.
The Hertz Corporation has experimented with both onsite and remote training for its U.S.-based work-at-home program since its launch in 2006. Today, its new-hire training program consists of a combination of premise-based and remote learning, says Tricia Wisehart, (retired) senior director, Reservations Sales Operations.
Hertz’s work-at-home program includes customer care, service and sales staff that typically live within driving distance of its Mobile, Ala., and Oklahoma City contact center sites. The Mobile site is 100% virtual, and the facility is primarily used for training and meetings.
New-hires attend two weeks of premise-based training, which consists of both instructor-led and virtual training. Afterward, agents are sent home to complete the rest of their training, again, consisting of a combination of instructor-led and virtual training via WebEx and GoToMeeting.
A “buddy program” for new-hires—both home-based and premise-based—helps to ease them into the company culture. Buddies are in daily contact with new-hires, and are on hand (virtually) to answer questions or offer assistance. The center relies on conference lines and a unified communications and collaboration platform for access to real-time communication via chat, video and collaboration tools.
Practical pointer: Wisehart recommends incorporating an onsite lab as part of the final training process for new home-based agents. At Hertz, the lab is a separate room, away from the center’s main floor. Once agents have completed their training, they go into the lab to work for a few days. Agents must set up their own equipment using external Internet connections (not connected to the corporate network) and take calls in an isolated environment. The work-at-home lab ensures that agents are comfortable using the equipment and gives them a taste of what it’s like to work alone before sending them home.