CSR and the Training Cycle

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In my last post on call center agent coaching, I mentioned the importance of employee development, and creating an atmosphere in which it’s a constant, ongoing focus. A commitment to call center employee development benefits both front-line personnel and the company. It’s a sure-fire way to consistently improve service, sales and customer satisfaction on the business side (bottom-line improvements), while also raising employee morale and retention.

Employee development happens to be a core principle behind CSR’s philosophy. Done right, it gives us the tools to help clients improve the effectiveness of their customer service and sales organizations. It’s a critical tool for call center operators serious about improving operational efficiency and outcomes.

All too often, development programs for front-line employees are sporadically implemented. As a result, such programs are often viewed as single opportunities. But call center employee development is more than just one training class and it can’t exist in a vacuum. Employee development, and training in particular, works best when it’s an ongoing process, embodying the mantra that “you never stop learning.”

Best-in-class QA programs that place an important emphasis on employee improvement (e.g., training, coaching, and programs such as Rewards & Consequences) shouldn’t neglect other aspects of QA, such as quality monitoring, tracking, goal-setting and analysis.

The Training Cycle
Developing employees is intrinsic to all of the performance-generating programs and services CSR offers, and is rooted in the popular HR model of the Training Cycle, which encompasses four distinct phases. The success of the Training Cycle is wholly-dependent on the implementing all four parts, since leaving out even one element of the training cycle will allow the process breaks down.

Here’s a brief summary of the key components of the Training Cycle:

  • Performance Standards: Companies need to develop and clearly document the anticipated practices and skills needed by front-line or support staff to complete the task.
  • Monitoring & Assessment: Call center supervisors should collect and routinely analyze data to determine current, historical or projected future status. Assessment is the key to identifying those areas where the employee needs improvement, and those in which he or she shines.
  • Tracking: The supervisor or call center manager should document the employee’s progress and determine future expectations at regular intervals.
  • Training: It isn’t enough for call centers to craft new expectations, they must also be communicated clearly to staff. Employee training provides the ideal forum to reinforce the KSAs needed to achieve peak performance.

How much emphasis does your call center place on employee development?