Training the key to continued success in contact centres

To ensure contact centre agents are equipped to provide a positive customer experience, the role of training cannot be overlooked, says Jed Hewson, Co-founder and Joint CEO of 1Stream.

Cape Town, 23 Jan 2017
1stream Press Office
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Jed Hewson, Co-founder and Joint CEO of 1Stream.
Jed Hewson, Co-founder and Joint CEO of 1Stream.

As businesses, both large and small, become more digital and move into the world of online, the modern call centre is often the initial, and in some cases the single point of customer contact. But to ensure contact centre agents are equipped to provide a positive customer experience, the role of training cannot be overlooked, says Jed Hewson, Co-founder and Joint CEO of 1Stream.

The value attributed to corporate training has been on the rise, with businesses in the US increasing their spend on training to more than $70 billion dollars, according to Forbes.

Skilled and motivated staff equals business efficiency

Modern contact centres take an omni-channel approach that includes e-mail, chat and social media, as well as the more traditional phone call. This means that in addition to having in-depth knowledge of company products and compliance needs, agents need to have a high level of competence to handle multiple customer interactions and deliver quality service.

These needs can be met through a three-stage training programme, including:

* Induction providing basic information needed to perform the role effectively;
* Assessment offers an opportunity for "top up" training to improve performance and quality scores; and
* Ongoing development provides the necessary information on new products and updated compliance needs or company policies.

Not only do training and development improve staff satisfaction and retention, but for businesses, more skilled and motivated staff means overall business efficiency and profitability. What's more, technology has vastly improved the way in which training can be implemented and used to improve service for the future.

The role of technology in training

Contact centre agents' performance is often monitored by listening to recordings. With the correct tech, it is possible to score an agent on an interaction and automatically schedule the necessary training through a workforce management system. The training can then be directly delivered to the agent through an e-learning platform.

Gamification systems can also be incorporated and used to engage the agent in the company culture. The transparency provided by gamification platforms allows agents to manage their own performance scores, measuring their own success and planning their career within the call centre.

Reporting and analysis can also be revolutionised through the use of technology. Standard reporting tools are being replaced by business intelligence (BI) tools that offer fast and more comprehensive results. Modern BI tools present reports in an easy-to-read format and enable the inclusion of information from outside of the contact centre. This allows a competent analyst to not only measure an agent's performance, but relate this back to the agent training scores, the person who trained them and even prior agent experience before joining this contact centre.

The solution in the cloud

The biggest challenge to the successful deployment of technology in a contact centre is skill. In most cases, e-learning systems, gamification platforms and BI tools need user competence and continual review. The reality is that the technology is usually only as good at the person managing it.

The recent shift for technology to be delivered as a cloud offering has gone some way to resolve this skill gap especially in the contact centre space. Cloud providers have a vested interest in making sure that deployment of their technology is successful, often offering continual online support and administration. The benefit for the contact centre is access to best-of-breed technology and support at a fraction of the cost of owning the technology themselves.

Jed Hewson

Jed Hewson is the co-founder of 1Stream, a pioneer and leading provider of cloud-based contact centre technology in South Africa. He has worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years, and his expertise lies in call centre technology and the communications and call centre space. Working as a Technology Director, Jed helped pioneer the voicemail and unified messaging industry in South Africa, including delivering SA's first contact centre using VOIP over ATM. Jed's experience in the contact centre industry includes: multimedia contact centres, design - build - operate - transfer of contact centres; multi-country managed services and the first hosted call centre platform in SA. On a personal note, Jed is a passionate cyclist.

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