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to close performance gaps, managers should also keep all of the organ- isation’s performance benchmarks in mind when designing training. If CSRs focus too much on one metric, such as call handle time, it may drive down performance in a different area, such as customer satisfaction.

Targeted training for new hires

Metrics also provide useful bench- marks when training new CSRs. Contact centre managers might look to metrics to indicate when to train new employees on specific skills, so as not to overwhelm them with too much information all at once. Metrics can also indicate which skills new CSRs are struggling with and may need extra training on. If managers keep year-over-year

data, they can look at historical data sets of different graduating classes and plan interventions accordingly at career landmarks, such as 30, 60 and 90 days, or 100, 250 and 500 calls. Historical data and corresponding benchmarks give managers insight such as, at 100 calls, employees are still struggling with calls to change features on a customer account. Managers can then assign training modules to new hires based on those benchmarks. If they cross- reference the historical trend with the new CSR’s’current performance data, they can target the training even further and assign the module only to new hires who still struggle with customer account changes. Supervisors can also look at data

from a new hire’s classroom training to see where that CSR may have struggled. Ten, if the CSR continues to have trouble on the floor, the supervisor can assign targeted training modules to reinforce skills as needed.

Just-in-time training

Year-over-year data provides excellent guidance into when certain types of customer needs or queries may peak, such as during an enrolment period for retirement benefits, and what CSRs need to know to efficiently and effectively help customers. Accordingly, managers can roll out just-in-time ( JIT) training to ensure that CSRs are receiving the right information exactly when they need it. One specific spike or event can

necessitate multiple JIT training modules. If customers have three months to complete an enrolment process, at the beginning of the period CSRs may receive JIT training on the general enrolment process. Near the end of the peak period, supervisors may roll out a completely different JIT training to help customers who are nearing a deadline and need help weighing options and making up their minds. Tese are two completely different types of call situations and need to be handled differently. In short, JIT training ensures that

CSRs have the latest, most accurate information at their disposal to handle customer needs and queries. Although often driven by metrics, this type of training has little to do with CSR performance. It is usually rolled out in response to external events such as natural disasters, shifts in the political landscape, policy changes and the like.

A balanced approach

Data-driven metrics, then, provide guidance. But the necessity of human interaction in training cannot be overstated. CSRs will remember far more from the people

is that it bypasses the supervisor. When supervisors are kept out of the feedback and training loop, they lose track of their employees. Tey lose the ability to understand each CSR’s training history, skillset and personality and it becomes virtually impossible for them to coach their workforce. Te best approach for training

CSRs is a hybrid model that combines the best of human training and supervisory skills, backed by the power of metrics. CSRs retain the human touch needed for effective contact centre training; they are, after all, dealing with people. Machine-learning simply cannot teach human empathic response and the softer skills that go along with being a CSR.

Putting it all together

As demonstrated, metrics play an important role in guiding contact centre managers. By constantly tracking data, managers can look for trends that indicate training opportunities. Trends are driven by a variety of factors; some are due to CSR skills, performance and deficiencies, and others are due to external factors. Once managers identify the drivers

While trends and drivers are important to explore when looking to close performance gaps, managers should also keep all of the organisation’s performance benchmarks in mind when designing training

they interact with day-to-day than from papers they study or even the interactive simulations they take. As contact centre managers rely

more heavily on data to inform when targeted training should be rolled out, there is a risk of too much automation. Imagine, for example, a CSR sitting in front of a dashboard that indicates a significant fall off in call completion. An automated system may sense this trend and ‘push’ a training module to reinforce call completion skills. Te CSR then has to complete the training and indicate on the dashboard that it has been completed. Te whole process would potentially happen without any input from a supervisor. Te problem with this model

behind the trends, they can decide the appropriate actions to take and rollout training targeted to the individuals who need it. Te combination of targeted training overseen by involved supervisors creates a customer service workforce ready to tackle the most complex issues that callers bring to them on a given day. When CSRs feel confident and prepared, employee morale stays high, and in turn, perfor- mance goals, whatever they may be for a given organisation, will be met.

Doug Taylor is programme director and Andrew Anderson is lead instructional designer at HighPoint Global. Go to www.highpointglobal. com for more information.

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