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Improve Training Efficiency


According to researchers Miner and Mezias, training could be the main contributing factor to an organization’s success. This quote takes on even more significance when looking at a contact center where the training of agents plays a key role in the customer experience, first contact resolution and reducing average processing time.

Companies invest heavily in the development of their employees. On average, companies are investing $705 annually, per employee, or 1.8% of their total payroll [1]. In contact centers, basic training lasts between 2 and 6 weeks, and agents spend a further 5 or 6 days of additional training per year [2]. Naturally, following the training, an increase in performance and efficiency is expected!

However, a survey of 258 organizations shows that only 47% of employees actually apply the new skills after the training! [3] This percentage decreases to 12% after six months and to 9% after one year. Thus, the content and information are disseminated during the training, but are not integrated and applied by the participants. It is almost as though the training had not taken place at all!

 

Rethinking current training methods

 

In a contact center goodwill is often no match against unforeseen everyday occurrences and other business priorities. Training can therefore be regularly postponed, shortened or even canceled. To reduce the impact and cost of the time spent in training, we sometimes try to group a large number of employees together in a room for one big presentation or providing online training sessions. But what is the impact?

Edgar Dale questions the effectiveness of traditional training in his model. According to him, two weeks after receiving training where the participants had a passive role, they retain a maximum of 50% of the information presented.

By involving the participants, they will retain up to 90% of the information presented.

The training model that is typically used in contact centers does not promote the retention, and consequently, the application of new skills.

 

Experiences Cone by Dale

 

3 points to increase the effectiveness of your training

 

1. Maximize the perceived value of training sessions to motivate staff

Agents who do not see the relevance of the content presented will have little incentive to retain the information and to apply it later [4].

To increase staff motivation to attend the training, it is important to target the benefits that the agents will obtain by applying the teachings. For example, This may be a gain in overall efficiency, the reduction of an irritant or increased sales. Training can thus be an integral part of the quality management process and the performance management process. Link the goals of the agent to the training objectives.

When the gain does not represent a source of personal motivation, try adding value by showing how the training fits in with the development of new skills that can help to reach business goals.

 

2. Give life to your training to increase the transfer of knowledge

The training features have a major impact on learning, retention and the application of
knowledge. [5]

The training must include a large amount of interaction between participants. These exchanges will facilitate the understanding of the information presented and promote the creation of new skills.

The training should include workshops on how to implement new ideas through the use of concrete examples. For example, the similarity between the examples and actual work situations will allow agents to better assimilate the information. Practice scenarios allow agents to test their level of understanding of new ideas by placing them in a situation where they can receive immediate feedback.

 


Training Through Action

To optimize learning and the transfer of knowledge, LOEM has adopted the training through action method as its Agent training program and assists organizations in adapting their own internal training.

Depending on the nature of the knowledge that is to be transmitted, two methods can be used: workshops that put into practice (role playing, simulations) and experiential training (awareness activities).

This practice encourages the involvement of participants and allows for the knowledge to be generalized to different situations, and this in a fun learning environment.


 

3. Provide support to facilitate the application of new skills

One of the major obstacles to the application of new skills is the fear of making mistakes and overall failure. Proper support from managers [6] and peers [7] plays a crucial role in helping overcome those fears.

Give the agents the opportunity to practice their new skills immediately after the training. In contact centers, for example, it is possible to assign agents to cases or specific calls that will allow them to apply these new skills.

The agents must also be able to count on resources to support them in case of need. Providing a safety net that will allow them to apply the knowledge without risk! Simple and clear documentation, such as a fact sheet or a post-training follow up, will help participants to remember the key elements for applying their new skills. Also, let them know that you are available to support them or clearly indicate who is able to do so.

 

In Brief…

 

Do Not forget to :

  • Give value to training by identifying the gains that participants will obtain by applying the knowledge;
  • Energize the training by encouraging exchanges, using concrete examples (related to actual work tasks) and practice workshops;
  • Properly support agents following the training and create situations whereby they can apply the knowledge quickly and without consequence.

Avoid :

  • Providing incomplete training or content that is improperly adapted for the target participants;
  • Presenting too much content to an excessively large group of participants at once, or training online;
  • Leaving the agents to assimilate the new information on their own and forcing them to figure out how to apply it in the context of their work.

 

François-Léo

François-Léo Gasse, M.Sc.

Contact Center Business Analyst


 

Sources

[1] Conference Board of Canada (2013)

[2] Dimension Data global call center benchmark (2015)

[3] Conference Board of Canada (2007)

[4] Burke et Hutchins (2007)

[5] Roussel (2011)

[6] Bates, Holton et Seyler (1996)

[7] Cromwell et Kolb (2004).