Ideas to Streamline Agent Training
Look to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Instructing New Employees
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Last month we looked at ways to streamline answering service agent hiring. Now that they’re hired, the next step is to optimize their training. For this initiative, we have two potential goals. One is to train better, and the other is to train faster. Ideally we want to do both.
To address the speed element, we can look for ways to streamline training from both the company standpoint and the new hire perspective. When we streamline the trainer component, we reduce training costs and decrease trainer hours. When we streamline the trainee component, the new employee becomes productive faster and does so at a lower cost. This reduces the chance of them getting bored or frustrated during training and quitting. It also allows them to generate revenue for your answering service faster.
Here are some techniques to streamline agent training:
One-to-Many Instruction: The more agents you can train at the same time by one instructor, the more efficient that trainer will be. This has the highest potential at larger answering services that hire and train more employees. But smaller answering services that typically train one agent at a time, can still look to employ one-to-many training opportunities. Even if one trainer instructs two trainees, it will double the trainer’s output. But what about classroom-style environments with an instructor training four, eight, or even twelve employees at one time?
Though some aspects of training may require one-on-one instruction, look to minimize those instances whenever possible. This allows you to maximize the instructor’s effectiveness with one-to-many training scenarios.
Recorded Lessons: Look for segments of training that are highly repetitive. Record the instructor giving that lesson. Then have future trainees watch the recording. This is a one-time investment that you can use repeatedly for many new employees for months or even years. Just be sure to periodically review the recording to make sure the information hasn’t changed. When the recording becomes out-of-date, make a new one.
Self-Study Opportunities: Not every part of agent training requires an instructor. New employees can conduct some aspects of training by themselves. This may include reading training materials or engaging in hands-on interactive instruction. Though you might need to develop some of these tools yourself, you may be able to get others from your vendor or user group. Whenever possible, adapt what’s already provided instead of making your own.
Fast Productivity: Does your answering service have a high-volume account or a group of accounts that are easy to serve? It might be worthwhile to structure training so that your new hires can handle just this one high-volume account or a group of easy accounts quickly. This will let them gain experience early in the training process. And it will allow them to be productive much faster.
After they’ve taken these specific types of calls for a while, they can return to training and prepare to handle your other accounts. Not only does this benefit your TAS by having these new hires handle billable transactions quickly, it also benefits the employee by giving them a break in their training and letting them take calls—which is what you hired them to do.
Summary: Streamline agent training to save money, improve results, and produce productive employees faster.
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The 4 C’s of Customer Experience
By Tra Williams
Remember the old saying that if you never expect anything then you’ll never be disappointed? Well, that might work on blind dates and birthday presents, but in business, expectations are impossible to avoid. Fortunately, if you properly position your business in the minds of your customers, you can mold their expectations in ways that are consistent with the service and value you provide.
There are four foundational elements that define your customers’ expectations. Mastering all four is the key to exceeding your customers’ expectations every time and retaining their business.
1. Culture: Who you are is the key to what you should do and how you should do it. Potential customers begin to build a mental profile of your business the moment they become aware of it. They make assumptions about what to expect from the culture they observe. Subtle and not so subtle clues convey information and frame the expected tone of your interaction even before your initial contact.
The key to mastering this element is to maintain consistency between the service you provide with your branding and messaging.
2. Credibility: An impressive depth of knowledge is nothing without parallel performance and vice versa. Your customer makes assumptions about your credibility because of and sometimes despite your performance. Knowledge of your industry isn’t enough. Past performance isn’t enough.
The key to mastering this element is to know why and how, not just one or the other.
3. Capacity: Revenues will not materialize without the infrastructure they require. How you execute at a smaller level creates expectations with customers of your ability to execute at a larger level.
The key to mastering this element is to realize that preparation creates opportunity.
4. Command: Your command over the process should eliminate customer effort. Customers expect results without effort on their part. If a customer must call multiple times and talk to multiple people to yield results, your process has failed, and you have likely lost that customer’s business. On the contrary, effortless results yield ongoing business.
The key to mastering this element is clear communication of a well-defined and effortless process.
Conclusion: Customers choose businesses that consistently meet or exceed their expectations. Your culture, credibility, capacity, and command define whether you exceed their expectations and gain a customer for life or fall short and send them to a competitor.
Tra Williams is a speaker, business consultant, and author of the upcoming book Feed Your Unicorn. For more information, visit www.TraWilliams.com.
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Quotes for the Month
“Every student needs someone who says, simply, ‘You mean something. You count.’” -Tony Kushner
“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” -Peter Ustinov
“Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.” -unknown