Your workforce is the backbone of your organization. Every customer interaction, every bill paid, every element of your day-to-day operations has a person responsible for it. When those people are given the tools they need to succeed from the start, your business thrives.
Effective training is critical for any business, but it’s especially important in customer service outsourcing, where the designated team represents the client’s brand and image. So, what are some of the essential elements of an effective training program? This was a question Windham’s human resources department examined closely, and with the support of the executive team, developed a comprehensive, effective approach to training our call center teams. Their efforts ultimately paid off, and landed Windham a Top 125 Training Award for 2018 from Training Magazine.
Here’s how our team did it:
- Use the expertise on hand
Firstly, Windham capitalized on the resources we already had – in this case, a management team with years of customer service outsourcing and call center training expertise. We relied on these subject matter experts to help us create and refine our curriculum, from in-class training materials to role-playing to tests that would effectively measure each employee’s retention of the principles they had been taught. Rather than deal in the abstract, we made sure that the scenarios we used during training came from real-world examples our teams had addressed in the past.
- Recognize that one size does not fit all
Different people have different learning styles, and an effective training program is one that leverages that core aspect of adult education. Some employees learn better in a classroom environment, while others need a more hands-on approach to retain what they’ve learned. Our training program took all of that into consideration and provided a multifaceted approach to call center training and educating customer service outsourcing teams.
- View training as an ongoing process
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Although often misattributed to Socrates, this philosophy is a driving force for our training teams, who recognize that the training process doesn’t have neat endpoints – nor should it. Our teams not only provide initial training for our new hires, but also focus on continuous improvement throughout each employee’s career at Windham.
We use customized score cards and deep auditing to identify areas where our groups are succeeding, as well as weaker areas that could be addressed by strengthening our training materials. This approach not only reinforces the initial training employees receive, but also provides clear pathways to advancement. We are far more likely to recruit from within for openings on our management and senior leader teams, as our employees have received in-depth training and already know Windham’s culture much better than an outside hire would.
- Engage, develop, and retain
One of the most important ways that our teams improved our employee training was to explore new ways to engage our personnel beyond just training. In 2015, we launched an internal program known as Dream Maker, designed to provide employees with tools and techniques to help them reach their financial goals.
In the ensuing three years, we have expanded this program to include a more robust financial education program called Financial Avenue, which includes structured, online courses to increase financial literacy among our workforce. These initiatives are designed to foster greater employee satisfaction while helping our employees achieve better control of their financial futures. A broader goal is that customers of Windham’s clients also will benefit from employees’ personal knowledge and experience in managing financial matters.
The Leadership Development Program, which started in 2017, is another employee enrichment program that has seen great success. The program is designed to provide training and professional development for members of management, whether seasoned leaders or newly promoted team members. Training is organized by role and core competencies, and includes skill building for driving performance, reducing attrition, and inspiring high-quality work. This further investment in professional development ensures we have a strong pipeline of future leaders for the organization.
When your organization is focused on the bottom line, it’s an understandable instinct to regard training as a luxury, rather than the necessity that it really is. The benefits for companies that invest the time and resources to develop a solid customer service training program, however, far outweigh the initial costs. Increased retention rates, fewer errors, and higher levels of customer satisfaction all stem from well-trained personnel.
The value of a multifaceted call center training program cannot be overestimated. By investing in your training group, you are communicating to your entire workforce that they matter, and that the company wants to give them the tools they need not just to succeed in their job, but to thrive in their career.
Want to experience the benefits of a well-trained customer service team for yourself? Learn more about our customer lifecycle solutions!