Archive for the ‘Call Centers’ Category


Uploaded by takomabibelot

 I’ve seen this technique growing over the years.  The surefire way to reduce customer complaints is to make it impossible to complain.  I first experienced this on an international flight.  When everyone got off the plane, there was no one there. 

Just the other day I called a company about a small problem and they put me in the cue.  The recorded message said, all I’d have to do is wait 30 to 60 minutes for the next agent.

There are others where the only place you can get information is on their website, but if it’s not there it just keeps recycling you back to the home page.

What’s nice about this approach is you can show upper management a proven reduction in customer complaints.  “We must be doing something right.  Nobody’s complaining.”

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Uploaded on by bealluc

Education and training is all to often built around knowing, understanding and sometimes awareness.  As a result, the typical test is a paper and pencil test that is often nothing more than multiple choice.  This is all fine and good in an academic setting where if you add a little more sophistication you take knowledge and use it to compare, contrasts and differentiate. 

However, in a business environment these kinds of learning objectives are really irrelavant.  In that setting, you really don’t care what people know, what you care about is what people can do.  It’s how they use knowledge to perform complex tasks or even multiple tasks at the same time.  For example, salespeople don’t need to know the features and benefits of their products.  Instead they need to be able to describe products in a way that motivates the customer.  They need to be able to assess customer needs and find the best product fit.  

So the next time you write an instructional design document, cross out the words know, understand and aware of and replace them with what students can do with that knowledge.

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When you’re doing things like needs assessments and other types of trianing research, the question is how many should you do?  Or is there a number that makes the research valid?

There are really two key considerations.  First, you want to include enough people to make sure you involve the key stakeholders.  You don’t want to leave anyone out who has the ability to sabotage your work.  In this case, more is better.

Second, you will find that after you’ve done a number of interviews that you start to get the same answers over and over again.  At that point, you have enough to make the study valid.  You’ve basically covered the range of responses.

Remember that interviews are different than surveys.  You’re looking for more indepth answers and a complete range of responses.  Usually at around 25 to 30 interviews, you should have what you need.

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I work with a lot of companies that have a problem of having many new hires not really ready to work.  They lack basic work skills including things as basic as how to dress for work. 

 The solution lies in the community colleges.  Many of them have work readiness programs designed for just this problem.  In fact, companies will often send new hires to these classes before their first day of work. 

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Here are two very traditional new hire orientations.  First, you put new hires in the classroom and then have each department head come in with a PowerPoint presentation and talk for an hour.  I’ve seen this go on for up to five days.

 The second method is to have new hires go to each department and get a short presentation on what that department does.  It’s a little less formal and you get to see the department.  I’ve seen this last for up to two weeks.

So, when you ask new hires how they liked this orientation here’s the typical response.  (You actually don’t need to go to the expense of doing this survey here’s what you always get.)  “That was really interesting but I don’t remember much of it.” or..”it would have been more helpful after I’d been here a while.” or..”I couldn’t stay awake.”

These methods are actually more like a hazing than anything of substantial value.  It’s too much, too soon and delivered in the worst possible way.

What’s the alternative? 

First of all, the information is valuable.  However, it’s probably different every time it’s presented and it doesn’t have a context.  So what we do is try to capture that information and put it into some type of reference material.  Could be online but doesn’t have to be.  Then new hires read or go through that information over a period of several weeks and then they get an opportunity to meet with departments for informal discussions or maybe some job shadowing.   In other words, it’s spread along a Learning Path.

Here’s an easy way to capture this information.  The next time you go through your traditional orientation tape record it and then transcribe it.  Now with the PowerPoints you  have all the information you need for a good writer to put it together.

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It seemed that everyone liked the first two Terry Tate videos.  Now Terry has to go through sensitivity training.

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I’m doing more consulting these days which means we have a lot of brainstorming sessions and working through documents.  As an alternative to filling the room with unreadable flip charts, I’ve started to do all the recording of information in something like Microsoft word, projected onto a screen.

 This allows us to easily change and rearrange information, delete stuff and best of all read it.  If you’re attached to a printer, you can also continously print out copies for all attendees.

 Finally, when you’re all through you can email everyone the work from the session.

 We’ve also done this during training when teams work on case studies or other things that require a presentation to the class.  In every class there are always several people who have laptops.  The teams then create their report outs and presentation on their laptops.  Then use a flash drive to gather up all the reports so you can show then from the computer you are using to project your PowerPoint.  It’s really an upgrade from flip charts.

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You’re Invited!!
Please join us for a free 30-minute web conference on December  Dec. 19th at 11:00 am ET or Jan. 10th at 2:00 pm ET.  Meet with myself and Steve Rosenbaum, author of the best-selling book Learning Paths and learn more about how to dramatically reduce ramp up time for new employees. 
Learning Paths is a proven methodology that can help any organization reduce time to proficiency by more than 30% in as little as 30 days.  Learning Paths has been tested by major corporations in seven countries with more than 400 functions and 20,000 employees. 
To sign up, send us an email at infoCAN@learningpathsinternational.com or call  905.271.7272.  Please tell us which session you plan to attend and how many people from your organization will be joining you.  Email confirmation with call details will follow.
Web Conference:  Learning Paths:  Get Employees Up-to-Speed in Record Time
Session 1:  December 19th at 11:00 am ET
Session 2:  January 10th at 2:00 pm ET
For more information about Learning Paths please visit our website at
www.learningpathsinternational.com.  You can also email us for a free Learning Paths Whitepaper

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What I’ve seen in most call centers is that trainers come up through the line.  The start as agents move to leads to supervisors and then to trainers.  This gives them a good background in what happens on the phones and how to talk about the technical aspects of the job.

However, few have any formal background in training and development and I’m usually surprised that they have not reached out to the training community to find out what’s going on.

 Other than reading my book, I always suggest that they start by getting involved in the major training and performance improvement associations to try and find resources and a mentor.  It’s helpful to find associations with good local chapters that you can be part of at a very minimal cost.  The two I suggest that everyone starts with are the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD.org) and the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI.org). 

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There is a lot of talk about whether talk time is a valid or useful measure in call centers.  There are good and not so good arguments on both sides.  However, in a training environment, talk time can provide some useful information.  Here’s how..

As agents become more confidence and competent there speed naturally picks up.  You can see it and hear on every call.  They navigate screens faster.  They know where to find information.  They give better advice.  They talk more naturally and fluently.  The calls of experienced agents will be faster than the calls of inexperienced agents.

During training, what I like to do is put talk times on a quality run chart.  On a control chart .   Then I look at the normal distribution of call times from experienced agents and set both upper and lower control limits.  When new agent’s talk times fit within these limits, I’m no longer concerned about talk time.  Some agents will have much higher talk times.  To me this indicates that there are areas they haven’t mastered and are therefore too slow.  A little analysis and observation can help spot these.

The trickier ones are those who are too fast.  This can mean agents may be skipping things they don’t know well or even things like blind transfers.  Again, a little watching and listening should reveal these. 

By identifying the outliers on the control chart, you can be much more focused with your coaching.

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