How to Optimize Contact Center Training for Performance
When done correctly, contact center training can directly impact your agents' performance from day one. From onboarding to ongoing performance, contact center training influences your bottom line and customer experience. In the latest episode of the Future of Contact Centers podcast, our experts shed light on why traditional contact center training needs to evolve to shape modern contact centers. Classroom and cohort-style training is no longer required and oftentimes may hinder your agents' ability to meet customer needs proficiently. In this recap, we share some best practices from our work in GigCX and ways contact centers can adopt these methods to improve their agent training.
Challenges with Traditional Contact Center Training
- Lengthy Training Durations: Traditional contact center training programs are notorious for their lengthy durations, often spanning several weeks or even months. This extended timeframe can pose significant challenges for both trainees and trainers alike. As the training process drags on, trainees can lose interest and motivation, leading to a decline in the effectiveness of the training program or, worse, turnover before they even get started.
- Rigid Schedules: One of the hallmark features of traditional training is its strict adherence to a 9-to-5 schedule. This rigidity can be problematic for contact center agents, particularly those working off hours, seasonal timeframes, or on flexible schedules through GigCX. If you’re looking to hire agents to work nights but require them to train during the day–this may result in conflicts with an agent's schedule as they are choosing to work within a schedule that works for them. The rigid schedules of traditional training can clash with these expectations, making it difficult for agents to participate effectively.
- Attendance Pressure: Traditional contact center training places a heavy emphasis on attendance, often enforcing a zero-tolerance policy. This non-negotiable stance can be particularly challenging for agents who may have irregular schedules due to personal commitments or other work engagements. The pressure to maintain perfect attendance can lead to stress and attrition–increasing barriers to finding great talent.
- Lack of Engagement: Traditional training sessions typically involve long lectures, PowerPoint presentations, and videos. While these methods can be effective in small doses, they often fail to maintain engagement over extended periods. As training sessions stretch into weeks or even months, trainees may become disinterested and disengaged, diminishing the overall effectiveness of the training.
- Cognitive Overload: Research has shown that the human brain's working memory begins to decline after just 20 minutes of a lecture-style presentation. Traditional contact center training sessions, which can extend for several hours each day, week after week, may overload trainees' cognitive abilities. This cognitive overload can hinder their ability to retain and apply what they've learned.
Why E-Learning and Self-Paced Training Makes Sense for Contact Centers
- Flexibility: E-learning and self-paced training offer a solution to the inflexibility of traditional training. Agents can complete their training modules at their own pace, aligning with their schedules and commitments. This flexibility is especially crucial when leveraging a GigCX partner to build your on-demand workforce, where agents value the autonomy to choose when they work.
- Customized Learning Styles: E-learning modules can be tailored to cater to various learning styles, including kinesthetic, auditory, visual, and linguistic preferences. This customization ensures that agents receive a personalized learning experience that resonates with their individual ways of learning. Whether an agent prefers hands-on activities, auditory cues, visual aids, or reading and writing exercises, e-learning can be augmented to accommodate their needs.
- Technical Training: E-learning platforms can seamlessly incorporate technical training components, such as quizzes, reading materials, and step-by-step guides. Agents can acquire the necessary technical skills to excel in their roles without the need for classroom-based instruction. This approach ensures that agents are well-prepared to navigate the software and tools essential for their work. It also enables agents to seek relevant information to pass quizzes and assessments. The practice of sourcing information is a valuable skill that often helps them perform better when servicing agents.
- Progress Tracking: E-learning systems provide a structured framework for tracking agent progress. Supervisors and trainers can easily monitor how trainees progress through the modules, ensuring they complete their training at an optimal pace. This oversight helps ensure that agents are adequately prepared for their roles before they transition to live operations. It also provides a clear indication of who the best-performing agents are so you can appropriately staff to meet service levels.
- Cost Savings: Adopting e-learning and self-paced training can result in cost savings for contact centers. Traditional training often involves billing clients for training hours, which can be a significant expense. In contrast, e-learning allows contact centers to waive training fees associated with renting physical space for training and paying agents for unnecessary classroom downtime.
- Problem-Solving Skills: E-learning encourages problem-solving and hands-on engagement, which are essential skills for contact center agents. Rather than passively absorbing information, agents actively engage with the content, fostering critical thinking and adaptability. This prepares them for real-world challenges they may encounter in their roles.
- Continuous Learning: Training is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. E-learning facilitates continuous learning and upskilling, ensuring that agents stay up-to-date with industry trends and client-specific requirements. Contact centers can easily update and expand training modules to address evolving needs, fostering a culture of lifelong learning among agents.
Overcoming Misconceptions about E-Learning
Contact center clients sometimes assume they must convert their existing training materials to fit the e-learning format or revamp their training entirely to train a GigCX workforce. However, if you rely on partners like ShyftOff, we work with our clients to handle the conversion process to seamlessly transition to the e-learning environment.
Many contact centers also believe that e-learning may not be as effective as in-person or classroom-style training because they aren’t able to receive real-time support while learning. At ShyftOff, we believe in supporting agents through digital channels and ensuring there are trainers available virtually to answer questions in real time as agents work through self-paced training.
We also intentionally design e-learning to ensure the agents thoroughly understand the materials and are prepared for their roles. We adopt a pass or fail approach meaning the agent has to pass the quiz or assessment with 100% completion in order for them to move on. We also closely monitor how many times they fail, as this is a key indicator of their potential to perform client tasks if staffed. Agents must demonstrate a high level of proficiency to advance, guaranteeing that they are well-equipped for their responsibilities.
Ensuring Agent Success
In order to ensure the success of e-learning, contact centers must implement practical elements to support and enhance agent readiness. For example, knowledge base resources and trainers should be available virtually to support agents while learning. In short, agents need to make it as seamless as possible for agents to find or seek support through the learning process.
As mentioned above, this can include developing an environment on a private forum or through a tool like Slack where they can seek insights and support from other agents through their training journey. Designating time or spaces for optional huddles and technical setup assistance enables agents to confidently start their roles, especially if they are new to self-paced e-learning.
By embracing these modern training methods, contact center operators can provide their agents a flexible, engaging, and effective learning experience. This approach ultimately leads to improved agent performance, reduced attrition rates, and enhanced client satisfaction, making it a win-win solution for all stakeholders in the contact center industry.
For more insights on optimizing your contact center workforce, you might be interested in the following resources from our blog:
- How Does GigCX Find the Right Talent for GigCX?
- Three Must-Have for Successful GigCX Agents
- On-Demand Contact Centers Are the New Gold Standard
Interested in augmenting your contact center operations with GigCX?
Contact our team to get started.