How good is your Training: Take the Quiz

How good is your Training: Take the Quiz
By: John Cockerill
Understatement of the day -Training is important. Just about everyone says so. But like the weather everyone talks about but few do anything about it.
Here is a quick test to gauge the health and effectiveness of the training in your center.
1. Is there a formal and documented training plan (a curriculum)? If yes, does it cover or contain:
a. Induction and take-on of new agents?
b. Ongoing training and upgrade path for agents after induction training?
c. A list of quizzes and tests?
d. Training tied to processes and employing process maps?
e. Employ actual call recordings and screen shots?
f. Criteria for graduating from training or becoming qualified to complete assignments with new skills?
g. Is there a list of all systems used by agents and associated practice or transactions to prove proficiency?
2. Are all training materials up-to-date?
Here’s a quick method for checking. Is there an electronic copy of all materials used? Does the last date review, version number, and by whom appear on all documents in the binder or given to the agents? If no, then they are likely out of date or at best need to be review by someone knowledgeable. Call centers are a high change environment. If there is no date on the material assume it is out of date and get it verified.
3. Are frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) used in the center?
If so, check how many have been added or updated in the last 3 months. Can the existing agents answer 20% accurately without referencing the material? Are these posted on the organizations website for callers to self serve?
4. Is the training designed for adult learners?
Adults need to have practice close to the subject delivery. Quick and accurate feedback to adjust performance is critical so errors don’t accumulate. Design sessions into 40 minute delivery blocks with 20 to 30 minutes of immediate practice, role play and feedback. Provide summary sheets for review of key points to aid memory.
5. Are all the subjects reviewed with and by the agents in an optimum cycle?
Best practices suggest a simple review cycle of: immediate, 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days will increase retention of material by over 80%. Repetition of practice is important, just like mommy said. Practice does make perfect.
6. Do all systems have a training module or sandbox?
If not, the agents will have to work with live data. Not a good idea if quality of data is valued in the organization. If they are working with live data, is that done in a manner that enables each transaction to be held for review and approval by someone who is expert in the work?
7. What is the drop out rate during training and how does that compare to the center turnover rate?
A turnover rate that is high and where there is no drop out rate the training simply passing out problems to the floor where dealing with them is more expensive and troublesome to the organization. This is also an indicator that the training is not really equipping the agents to meet minimum position expectations. Where you experience drop outs in the training is also important. Watch the number that drop out just before or after tests. This is fear of failure, for those who drop out to avoid the test and fear of reality for those who fail the test and then drop out.
8. How many sample calls and transactions are in the training library? Do they cover all transactions, most transactions or only some? Are there both good and bad examples? Can you see screen shots as well as the audio? How many practice responses are expected during the training?

Using samples in class sessions means less time on the floor when doing side by side training. It also means being able to show good and bad calls of similar transactions to demonstrate the behaviours and practices wanted in the organization.
9. Is there an analysis of recruiting and training quality done recently?
Turnover and agent quality scores from monitoring by date provides insight to any center as to the effectiveness of the recruiting and how well training is doing by cohort of new agents.
10. How much time is allocated for training of existing agents?
QA/QM coaching doesn’t count. Real training in one on one session, groups or classes of new material, tests etc. Is it accounted for in the annual budget? Is there any provisioning for training in the forecast and scheduling?
11. What linkages exist between the training, new learning and compensation?
As agents move along the continuum of learning, gaining experience in the work and center there needs to be recognition for the effort and acquisition of expertise. Changes to compensation is one method along with public credit of that expertise.
12. Finally and this is the litmus test. Do other departments want the call center staff?
If yes, something is right. If not, there is likely a lot of work to do. Many organizations today require staff to spend their initial time in their center(s). Other departments often find that they don’t have to spend as much on training money and time when they steal staff from the call center. This ‘poaching’ is a compliment to the expertise and systematic approach to grooming new and existing people for roles in any organization. Don’t fight it. Rejoice. And consider charging the departments back for that training and lost productivity. Some firms do with good success.
This list of a dozen questions won’t give a complete audit of the training process but will provide a quick insight into whether or not it needs your attention.
Remember it is difficult to hold an agent, supervisor or manager accountable for success if the measures of success and how to achieve them are not presented in a clear and simple manner. That is what a good training program provides.
Yes training is important. An effective training program is imperative.

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