A successful contact center training program must arm customer care Communicators with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver a stellar customer experience. It doesn’t happen by magic. Manager-trainers/coaches must strategically design the training program so that it optimizes the commitment of funding, time and effort necessary to create and implement it.
To help you maximize the opportunity, avoid the following five roadblocks when developing your training program:
- Vague objectives: Specific goals and objectives should be established—documented in writing—at the outset, as they are the very foundation of the training program. Make sure they encompass the knowledge and skills that participants ought to take away at the end, and be sure to present them to participants at the start of the session. These goals will guide a logical sequence of activities for the program, as well as provide the basis for assessment of the training’s effectiveness.
- Unsupportive learning environment: Be sure the training space is welcoming and ready. Warmly greet participants as they enter. The room should be of an appropriate size to accommodate the number of trainees—neither too large nor too small (remember how Goldilocks suffered in this regard). Make sure everyone is comfortable: Consider room temperature, accessibility, lighting, travel arrangements and facilities (e.g., restrooms, Wi-Fi and parking). Choose an area free from distractions and where everyone has a good view of trainers and training materials. Check acoustics to be sure that everyone can hear the presenters.
- Limited resources: Training materials should be abundant and up to date and, especially, mimic what will actually be used in the work environment. All equipment, hardware and software should be current and fully functional. Ensure that the training materials match expected outcomes. For example, training on a software tool may require hands-on access to the software or at least clear screen shots delineating the software elements. Participants should also be given training materials to take back to the office for reference.
- Overreliance on lectures: Change up training methods to keep participants engaged and learning. Encourage discussions around the training materials, and use exercises that allow trainees to practice skills, like role playing, Q&A and quizzes. People learn in different ways, so be sure to employ visual (e.g., black or white boards, videos, PowerPoint presentations and overhead projectors), oral (e.g., storytelling, jokes and lectures) and written materials (e.g., manuals and worksheets). Keep in mind the age and experience levels of participants and match them with methods and tools used for training.
- Little assessment or follow-up: Once employees return to the workplace, are they able to apply what you’ve taught them? Training program success is measured by how well it has affected employee performance toward the stated goals. A training program is a work in progress, and evaluation is critical to improving it over time. For assessment, consider pre- and post-knowledge and/or skills testing. Also measure employee reaction to the program, since approval indicates engagement and absorption of the information being conveyed, and disapproval guides improvements. Employee feedback should be collected immediately following the training. Use a standardized form, perhaps one that uses a numbered rating system but also includes open-ended questions and space for comments.
Training is an important part of overall contact center performance. Make sure to optimize it by avoiding these five roadblocks.