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Tales of a Call Center School Dropout

Posted on  11 May 10  by 

Comment (1)

It’s college graduation time, and that means the inspirational commencement speeches will start to circulate in the press—providing tips on everything from wearing sunscreen to pursuing your passions.  Most college grads will, I’m sure, feel confident their four years of studies have prepared them well for whatever life offers them.  Boring Presentation

On the flip side, what about the folks who shunned the classroom for a  “real world” education?  Turns out that some of them have been pretty successful too.

Time Magazine recently published a list of the Top 10 College Dropouts, pointing out that several wildly successful individuals never got their diplomas.  Some names on the list are predictable: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, to name two.  A few others were news to me: Tom Hanks left school to become a theater intern, and Harrison Ford abandoned his philosophy studies to try acting.

Certainly the reputations of these people makes one at least momentarily pause to reconsider the time and expense of higher education as a necessary component of success.  What is it about experiential, non-classroom learning that drives similar outcomes?

And how could this relate to the time and expense of call center training programs?  Certainly, there are some things that all reps must learn.  Legal and compliance items come to mind, as well as basic systems or product knowledge.  But is it necessary to onboard your new hires for months before they even hit the floor?

One company we work with shared with us their approach to training, which helped them shorten onboarding time from seven weeks down to just two to three weeks while reducing turnover, absenteeism, training costs AND agent errors.  Good stuff, right?  Did I mention they save £1,400 (about $2,000 USD) per new hire?

This company found that their long onboarding time, which taught all possible skill sets (things like systems, products, policies), was overwhelming reps, and a lot of knowledge was lost since some skill sets were rarely used.  Plus, reps didn’t know how to integrate each skill set into a call.  But when those calls did come in, the reps—who didn’t remember what to do, but knew that they SHOULD know—were afraid to ask for help. They often guessed and gave the customer wrong information. 

To solve the problem, the company identified the 10 or 11 call types that were driving 80% of their call volume and just trained new hires how to handle each  call from start to finish, integrating skills in as necessary.  And this training is truly on-the-job: in the morning they sit on calls with experienced agents and in the afternoon they learn about one of the call types they listended to in the morning.  Then, in short order, the reps are released onto the phones and assigned an experienced “buddy” to help them on call types that aren’t covered in the top 10. 

Tell me, how long do you keep your reps in the classroom?  Is it worth it?  How have you successfully trimmed down the time and expense of call center schooling?

CCC members, check out the full story behind Friends Provident’s successful training overhaul.

Comments from the Network (1)

  1. Steve Bly
    on May 13, 2010
    Respond

    There is a place for new associate classroom instruction-Company policy, compliance, etc. as was mentioned in the article; but maturity, the ability to stay patient and trained on the customer issue and not the customer (who may be irate at times) as well as remember the customer is responsible for the call beginning (issue, tone, etc.), whereas the customer associate can and should be responsible for the call ending with patient, consistant, professional, solution based, service. That combination of qualities in an associate is rare and seldom taught in a classroom. I have been in Management for some time now and when I come across those traits, it’s always refreshing to see and hear!

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