Effective training is critical to the success of your contact center. Often completed within the friendly confines of a contact center building, the idea of moving to a virtual model, delivered to a group of work-from-home agents, may seem daunting.

Have no fear! With some careful planning and the right tools in place, your training program can actually take a huge step forward regardless of where your agents are located. Let’s discuss.

The Essential Tools

Have you ever shown up to a new job and on day one the company was still setting up your computer and access to all necessary systems? Before we talk about the tools for conducting the training, it’s essential that everything is set up and ready to go for your agents on day one.

Video Meetings

Next, you need a platform that supports video meetings for a number of reasons. According to Sheri Kendall, Training Manager at Wayfair, “You need to set expectations with learners at the beginning of training that this is a ‘video on’ classroom. It communicates that their presence is required.” Video is instrumental in building a level of comfort and camaraderie among classmates, leading to richer collaboration and interaction.

Furthermore, the video on requirement adds a layer of accountability so agents aren’t tempted to conduct other business, like scrolling through social media. Multitasking is code for tuning out and not learning.

Kendall also notes that features like group chat, hand raising, and mute all help the training run smoothly. In larger classes she brings in a co-trainer to help maintain order, muting people as needed. The co-trainer also monitors the group chat and watches for hand raises so no learner questions are missed while the lead trainer is speaking.

Another important feature of your meetings platform is screen sharing. This allows the trainer to display slide decks and videos and show agents how to navigate the various tools required to do their job. It’s a good practice for trainers to keep their camera on while sharing their screen to maintain that connection with their class. Learners can also share their own screens to demonstrate proficiency in the various required tasks.

As you are preparing to use this tool, Kendall strongly advises thorough practice and testing ahead of time so the class isn’t sitting around while you figure things out.

Live Voice and Screen Monitoring

Once initial training is complete and agents are ready to interact with customers, live voice and screen monitoring allows new agents to observe tenured agents. New agents can both listen to calls and see screen activity as if they were sitting right next to their peer. They can also use 1:1 messaging to ask clarifying questions.

At some point in this process, the two agents switch places and the experienced agent observes as the new agent interacts with customers for the first time. Whisper and barge functionality allow the tenured agent to guide the new agent along and even join the call if things go awry. New agents also receive coaching as they navigate the various tools required to do their job.

5 Tips for Engaging Learners

Now it’s time to talk about some of the components of effective training. Your goal should be to keep learners engaged so they gain the required knowledge and skills to perform their job with quality and proficiency. These are good practices to incorporate regardless of location.

  1. Regularly break up the talking head on the screen. Kendall recommends never talking for longer than ten minutes without involving learners in some way. This could be simply asking a question or inviting feedback.
  2. Plan interactive activities. Engage learners by inviting them to participate in role play exercises. Encourage collaboration, breaking them up into groups to solve a problem. Kendall plans one of these activities at least every fifty minutes to get people moving around.
  3. Test knowledge often. Insert quick knowledge checks or quizzes to make sure that the information is being retained and can be practically applied. These don’t need to be more than a few questions.
  4. Gamify the experience. Allow agents to accumulate points for correct answers to quiz questions or participation in activities and cash in for a prize at the end of each day.
  5. Encourage chat participation. Use the group chat feature in your video meetings platform or create a group in your collaboration tool, asking learners to share feedback and resources on relevant topics. This is a great way to keep learners engaged and helps maintain the dynamic of a classroom setting.

Measuring Training Success

Training represents a significant commitment of time and resources so it’s essential that it achieves your goals. But how do you know if training was successful? Here are some ways to measure the effectiveness of remote training.

  • Post-training evaluations - Using a survey, ask learners to rate the quality of the training including both the content and the instruction. This creates accountability for the trainer and gives them an opportunity to improve for next time.
  • Monitor agent quality - Plan on focusing more quality management effort on new agents than you do with your tenured agents. The goal following training is to monitor an agent’s ability to do their job, addressing opportunities for improvement through feedback and coaching.
  • Monitor proficiency - Average Handle Time (AHT) is the amount of time it takes agents to resolve customer issues. Rather than pressuring agents to cut corners to reduce their AHT, use it as a proficiency gauge. As agents more efficiently navigate their tools and gain knowledge they naturally require less supervisor assistance to solve problems. As AHT moves within a reasonable range, also ensure that quality moves in a similar, positive direction.
  • Agent attrition rates - Training is a big part of that first impression with new employees and may impact how long they remain in the job. If agents are staying longer it’s likely you’ve done a good job of training and empowering them. If they are leaving for other roles rather quickly, there may be an opportunity for improvement.

Building the Content

One final objective in remote agent training is building out the content itself and determining how long training will be. It’s more than likely that you will have a predetermined amount of time for training and you need to maximize every moment of it.

As you build out that content, follow the guidelines in this article to keep your learners engaged and ultimately achieve your training goals. Save time by working with software vendors who have already built out agent training for their tools. At 8x8, we provide free, prebuilt training directly to your team through 8x8 University.

If work from home is new for your contact center, I recommend reading this eBook titled How to Set Up a More Productive Remote Workspace. This will ensure everyone is prepared for a productive, engaging training.