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5 Signs of a Great Contact Center Training Program

Nearly every contact center prioritizes employee training. But are they doing it correctly?

Agents are widely viewed as the heart of the customer experience.  They represent the brand when interacting with customers.  Their happiness, as the old adage goes, directly drives customer happiness.

It should thus come as no surprise that agent training represents a pivotal priority for contact center professionals.

In a recent CCW Digital survey, contact center leaders identified “training and coaching” as integral to their operational strategies.  A whopping 94% say coaching” is a paramount investment priority for the next two years, with 62% identifying their interest as “urgent.”

Indeed, organizations value training.  But are they getting it right?

That question is particularly pivotal as the contact center undergoes a paradigm shift.  With transactional matters shifting to digital, self-service channels, live agents will be tasked with handling more nuanced and complex matters.  They will need to be more prepared, confident and empowered than ever.

They will need to be better trained than ever.

This is not simply a focus for the front line; leadership will also need to grow in its ability to set strategy, mentor employees and drive performance.

Mindful of the need for great leaders in this new customer management normal, we are proud to introduce CCW University.

We also partnered with Chief Academic Officer Troy Mills to reveal the 5 signs of a great contact center training program:

It is consistent across the organization

Training typically involves multiple instructors.  It often spans different departments.

The guidance must, however, be completely consistent.  In order to foster the best possible talent, and in turn foster the best possible customer experience, training must be uniform across the organization.

Each trainer, regardless of department, function or internal division, must share the same messaging about the customer experience – and the role employees play in driving it.

“How consistent is the message,” asks Mills when evaluating training programs.  “Do you get the same answer regardless of which people you ask?”

When we advocate for consistency, it is important to note that we are talking about the core of the message.  We, mindful of differences in communication and learning style, are not advocating for a rigid script.

The key, therefore, is to ensure all trainers have a clear, aligned understanding of the customer experience.  Why does it matter to the business?  And can each department optimally contribute?

Trainers who understand these fundamental issues can tailor their language without compromising the message.

It features trainers who "walk the talk"

The best trainers do not merely approach the customer experience from a theoretical perspective.  They have hands-on, real-world experience.  And they are constantly acquiring more experience.

Far too many organizations isolate the “trainers” and “operational leaders.”

This, for starters, creates a problematic rift within the organization.  Operational leaders do not respect these “academic trainers,” whom they feel lack a true understanding of the job.  The trainers, meanwhile, view their role strictly in intellectual terms.  They focus on sharing information and have no insight into – let alone accountability for – how well their trainees are actually performing.

Practical experience, more importantly, makes trainers better at their jobs.  They can better prepare agents for the realities of their roles.  They also have direct insight into what is really happening within the operation.  They can spot problems and opportunities and then adjust their training accordingly.

It is fast and flexible

There is no “pause” button when it comes to the customer experience.  When facing an unexpected challenge – be it a short-term event or a paradigm shift – the organization does not have a few weeks to figure out how to respond.  It needs to respond immediately, all while maintaining the same commitments to customer centricity and operational efficiency.

Training plays a pivotal role in ensuring preparedness.  Great training programs, accordingly, possess an incredible amount of speed and flexibility.

In the event of an unexpected event, trainers, working in concert with other departments, are expected to understand the change, craft the right message and then deploy the message in a way that allows teams to effectively communicate with customers.

“The speed and efficiency of that process is what gauges how well-run the training team is,” declares Mills.

In addition to agile individual trainers, a great training program establishes taut processes for adapting to change.

“They have to have the operational processes to handle the unforeseen circumstances,” says Mills. “When something changes, they must ensure everything gets done quickly and efficiently.”

It is part of a business-wide commitment to learning

The best organizations recognize that training is not a task-based initiative.  They know is not strictly for front-line agents or their immediate supervisors.

These organizations instead embrace training as an overarching, broad initiative that spans all job functions and all departments.  They commit to a corporate-wide “university” model.

Employees are obviously trained on the specific skills and systems they will use on a daily basis, but they are also coached on broader company values.  This learning is ongoing -- it does not end when the employee is "competent" at a specific task.

This creates unity across the different departments.

It also fosters career progression:  the ongoing learning prepares employees to rise within their teams, while the broad alignment facilitates transitions to new roles and departments.

It reinforces learning through gamification and interactive modules

The goal of training is not simply to share information.  It is not simply designed to help new employees pass a “test.”

It is to spur continuous employee development, which in turn spurs continuous improvements in performance.

Training cannot, therefore, be restricted to one-off classes.  The organization must focus on reinforcing the knowledge on regular (and frequent) basis.

Gamification and interactive modules help engage employees in the material.  They emphasize – and incentivize – the notion of continued learning.

Instead of viewing it as a “nuisance” that takes them off their phones and away from their desks, employees will embrace training as a way to consistently hone their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses.