New hire training is an important part of call center operations. It equips your employees with many of the tools necessary to excel at their jobs. It also can help to improve customer satisfaction, reduce attrition, and increase revenue. Any one of these outcomes is valuable in its own right, but combined, they show the undeniable advantage a company possesses when it has a well-run and supported training program.
Over the past decade, call centers have undergone a substantial transformation. Much of this change has to do with new technologies that have been leveraged to better serve both the customer and the company. One such change is the creation of virtual training.
These training tools can be deployed across the entire contact center enterprise, whether the agents work in a call center or in an at-home environment. With this new class of learning and employees, adjustments must be made by the employer, including new paradigms for training. Fortunately, some companies are embracing these changes, producing agents of the highest caliber using a virtual (or blended) training model.
The traditional training model generally involves new employees sitting in a classroom-like environment with an instructor or instructors leading the sessions. This works very well when agents report to a single facility on a set schedule. The integration of new techniques and technology, as well as the continued dominance of the traditional call center agent, has allowed this model to continue to thrive.
Virtual training models, on the other hand, involve no central physical meeting space, and may not even be bound to specific meeting times. Training is done via computer portals, with instructors interfacing with trainees remotely. Sometimes, the interaction is live, and sometimes it is not. A blended model, as the name suggests, blends these approaches and provides limited in-person training, while focusing on virtual interaction and opportunities when trainees are not in the same physical location.
You might say, “So what? Training is training. At the end of the day, someone either knows the information or they don’t.” I would disagree. Due to the shifts that have been required as a result of the rise of virtual agents, we have learned more about what works in training, regardless of model, and how to best utilize that knowledge to enhance training and achieve better outcomes.
For example, virtual training exposes trainees to a technologically immersive environment, which allows them to become proficient in the systems they will eventually rely on more quickly. This can lead to a shorter adjustment period once a new agent is placed on his or her team. Additionally, virtual training frequently allows trainers to more quickly identify strengths and weaknesses of individual agents. This permits more time for focus on these individual traits, thereby making for a more well-rounded agent.
Virtual training also allows for greater access to subject matter experts (SMEs), providing an exceptional opportunity for trainees to learn from the best. The fact that these SMEs might be 3 or 4 time zones away no longer matters. And with virtual training, one facilitator can run a training session for new hires across the globe. This reduces both facility and staff costs, while still providing an outstanding training experience. We have also seen that virtual training can result in higher assessment scores, as well as a decrease in overall training time.
Many organizations are now using a blended training model, combining the best aspects of traditional classroom-based training with the recent breakthroughs in virtual training. As these models continue to evolve, make sure your BPO partner is leveraging all resources at their disposal to provide you with the most well-trained agents possible. Your customers, your employees, and your bottom line will all realize the benefit.
Kevin Cline, Expert Global Solutions‘ Director of Virtual Learning, has worked in the accounts receivables industry for 22 years, 21 of which have been with EGS. As Director of Virtual Learning, Kevin oversees the company’s learning management system, virtual classroom and internal SharePoint sites, ensuring the blended online learning process delivers a rich and highly impactful experience for all EGS associates.