Remote training is the future, even when agents are back onsite - ProcedureFlow - Manitoba Customer Contact Association

Remote training is the future, even when agents are back onsite - ProcedureFlow

One year ago, nearly all contact center training went remote. 

The pandemic forced companies to close physical contact centers. Agents across the globe began working from home. Training went virtual on a moment’s notice.

Now some agents are coming back onsite. Other contact centers are experimenting with a new blend of onsite and work from home agents.

Yet many contact centers plan to continue remote training. It turns out that going remote forced a much-needed modernization of contact center training.

Why is remote training so effective?

Remote training costs less and is a more effective way to train contact center agents than the old classroom-style approach.

Training is more effective the closer it resembles the real job or task. There are several aspects of classroom-style or in-person training that are very different than the actual job:

  • Agents can see the trainer, but they can’t see customers.
  • Agents can quickly get the trainer’s attention when they need help.
  • A trainee can talk to a customer while a trainer uses the computer.

 All of these inadvertently prevent agents from becoming more independent.

Agents must develop strong listening and reading skills because they can’t see their customers. When agents need assistance, they have to rely on various tools such as an internal helpline or a knowledge base because a supervisor isn’t always immediately available. And agents must talk to customers and use their computer at the same time.

Remote training is often faster and more effective, because it helps agents quickly become self-reliant.

“We will not go back to classroom-only, human-only instruction,” said Neal Topf, President of Callzilla, an outsourced contact center. “The cost reduction and efficiencies are too attractive to ever return to pre-Covid ways of doing business.”

Selena Bira, Unemployment Eligibility Team Leader with the State of Maine, adds that agents typically enjoy remote training as well. “Companies are finally realizing the added benefits of employee satisfaction as well as work life balance.”

What remote training changes will remain permanent?

Many contact center leaders realized that remote training forced them to abandon wasteful methods they used onsite. One example was shortening lessons.

“When we conducted training in-person we would structure it so that we would change topics and modality at least every 90 minutes,” said Matt Beckwith, Director of Customer Experience at Clark Pest Control.

“With the move to training over video conference, we realized that we need to change it much more often than every 90 minutes in order to keep everyone engaged with one another and with the material.”

Shortening lessons better mirrors the fast-paced contact center environment. It also requires contact centers to create more self-help resources that remain valuable even after formal training ends.

“We created more how-to videos for trainees and gave them more time to review them on their own,” said Beckwith. “Since we were no longer in-person, these videos really helped reinforce the material at times when it was more difficult for a trainee to spend time with the trainer.”

That doesn’t mean agents are completely on their own.

Cassandra Ward, Director of Customer Care at Equifax, requires agents to be on video during training to keep them engaged. “This helps us immediately see who may have questions or concerns.”

Ward added that video conferencing allows agents to make connections with their peers, even when they’re not in the same location. “It is a very efficient way to engage agents from various locations rather than segregated classes.”

Remote training methods can still be used when all of your agents are onsite.

A UPS contact center outside Las Vegas, Nevada eliminated most classroom training several years ago. Agents started at their workstations from day one and completed most of their training from there.

This helped newer agents start building relationships with the team they would be working with and quickly identify coworkers who could assist them with challenges.

How to make a permanent switch to remote training

Many contact center trainers were initially apprehensive about remote training, but have found they can do it well. “We have successfully educated three rounds of hires now, and it gets fine-tuned each time,” said Selena Bira with the State of Maine.

A training program becomes easier to sustain once you become accustomed to it.

There are a few ways to make remote training even more effective. One is to align your training with your quality monitoring process. The goal should be to train agents to consistently deliver a quality contact.

Contact centers that compare existing training programs to quality standards often discover large gaps in the training that can be easily fixed.

Another essential technique is relying on your knowledge base instead of asking agents to memorize vast quantities of information.

Traditional classroom training focuses on helping agents memorize policies, procedures, and product information. All that information is easily forgotten, causing agents to struggle with the transition from the classroom to live contacts.

A good knowledge base eliminates much of that memorization and allows agents to get up to speed more quickly. You can challenge agents with a customer question they’ve never encountered before, and they’ll still get it right so long as the correct answer is quick and easy to access.

Help make easy access to information a reality for your team with the help of ProcedureFlowTalk to our team to learn how you can improve your remote training with scenario-based learning and make your employees experts faster.

View more updates on the call center community here.

MANITOBA CUSTOMER CONTACT presents

October 5, 2022