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Training: You Reap What You Sow
by: Mark Pereira

“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually means less.” Mother Teresa

I recall eight years ago when I spoke to my mentor, from the International Board of Certified Trainers (IBCT) that I had a challenge. The call center management team asked for shorter classes, reducing the class duration from four weeks down to less than three weeks since they needed the trainees on the phones soon to assist with the call volume.

Click to view the infographic

Different training techniques to achieve your training objectives

An Infographic

This infographic emphasizes the concept of using different training techniques to achieve the training results.

I still recall his response, “You can bake a cake for the required time, which is about 40 minutes or so, or you can also bake it for 20 minutes, at the required temperature.”

“When you bake it for 20 minutes, you’re serving a 20 minutes cake that either doesn’t taste right or falls apart.”

This conversation has always pushed me to continuously keep adding value to trainees and allow the learning process to take its time, enabling the trainee to absorb the information and be able to transfer skills and knowledge learned into the job.

Training classes that I’ve taken on have all the components needed to do what is expected of them successfully. Some of the main ingredients that I’ve added to my class are a combination of the following:

Training Techniques I use

Various training techniques to apply 

1- Instructor-led training (ILT)

ILT sessions are the best way to deliver learning to an audience. I use stories to keep the class engaged and provide a significant impact on the lesson(s) learned. If you’re using PowerPoint, please make sure to use pictures, keep sentences short, and fewer bullet points on each slide. Another tip here is to add engagement with your learners, I add some element of engagement for every six to seven slides if face-to-face but if virtual, I add some engagement for every four to five slides.

2- Web-based training (WBT)

I schedule WBT courses close to an ILT session, which covers similar ILT session components. It’s an excellent practice to re-introduce trainees to the same information in various methods. I’ve noticed that it helps with retention.

3- Retrieval methods

In the form of knowledge checks, retrieval games, crossword puzzles, scavenger hunts, practice sessions, to name a few. Some of these can be a bit frustrating as the agents recall the Information covered.

4- Nutshell sessions

this is my attempt to review a previously covered topic as a whiteboard exercise that summarizes the key facts. This session is very similar to a mind map.

5- Demonstration sessions

If I’m demonstrating a navigation step, I will have the class following the steps with me, and then we practice a few more examples before progressing on to the next section. These demonstrations sessions also help me reiterate information covered during an ILT or WBT session, such as finding the amount a caller needs to pay within the account balance field. If the session is done virtually, I initially demonstrate the steps and then ask a learner to share their screens with the class and demonstrate the steps.

6- Recorded calls

Here, we pay consideration to these main areas while reviewing the call. The level of customer service (how the agent sounded), was the health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA), a term used to describe the steps to authenticate a caller before an agent can divulge account-specific information about a caller’s medical records, completed to satisfaction. We also look at the accuracy of the information provided. During these sessions, we ask learners to take out their quality assurance (QA) checklist to verify if the call has all the required elements to pass, or did it fall short of a few.


6- Roleplay

Roleplay is where it all comes together, the information learned, call scripts, and navigation. I first start with a structured script, one for the trainee playing the caller and another for the agent. After the class has completed the initial 12 scenarios, they create their scenarios.


7- Mentoring

There’s nothing better than learning from the real thing, where the trainee spends time with a seasoned agent to initially listen to calls, which gradually moves to the trainee taking calls with support.

All of the ingredients mentioned above take time, which we must not rush. Though it’s possible to make adjustments to accommodate the class, based on either the trainee’s or trainers’ feedback, I do my best not to skip out on any steps that add value to the learning experience and retention.

Going back to the title of this article, you reap what you sow. When you invest the time to get training right the first time, check for gaps in knowledge, and fill those gaps, you’re going to have fewer callbacks and frustrated callers due to inaccurate information given out by newer agents on the call center floor.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive tool to gather feedback from your class, I use MS Forms, I create a survey and send it out to the class via email or instant message (IM). MS Forms also had the capability of creating a QR code for the learner to provide feedback using their phones.

Further, from a human resources perspective, agents that transition too soon from the training class to the call center without a full grasp of the required skills and knowledge end up feeling frustrated, which leads to 75% of the trainees leaving in the first two months. The amount of time and financial resources put into vetting candidates, and training now becomes a dead investment and still leaves you in the same position the call center was before – filling the seats to assist with call volume. To add some weightage on the importance of efficient training, Gallup estimated that employee replacement costs could be 150% of the worker’s annual salary or more.

Take your time to get it right

Final Thoughts

So, take your time to get it right, don’t cut corners, and have quality assurance (QA) reviews often to reinforce Information learned in the classroom.

“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” –Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company.

by: Mark Pereira
Mark Pereira (USA) is a Certified Professional Trainer and a results-driven professional with visionary competencies to spearhead efforts in program development, program delivery, administration, and call quality service. Mark is highly skilled in developing training programs based on identified skill gaps through surveys, financial analysis, performance measurement programs, and auditing, as well as through senior-level program oversight. Demonstrated expertise in organizational management, managing multiple projects simultaneously, effectively balancing goals and objectives, and financial management. E-mail: mark_nick85@yahoo.com

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