QATC Survey Results
This article details the results of the most recent QATC quarterly survey on critical quality assurance and training topics. Over 50 contact center professionals representing a wide variety of operations provided insight regarding new hire training programs.
Number of Agents
The largest number of participants is from call center operations with fewer than 50 agents. However, the balance is widely dispersed across all ranges. This mix of respondents provides a broad spectrum of call center sizes.
Training Days for New Hires
The number of days needed for new hire training varies widely among the survey participants. Thirty percent indicate that the training is 11 to 20 days while 26 percent utilize more than 30 days. At the other end of the spectrum, 22 percent have training periods of 1 to 10 days. The complexity of the contacts, the technology in use, licensing requirements and other factors play a significant role in determining how much training a new hire must have. In some centers, a new hire is taught how to handle every kind of contact before moving to the floor. In other centers an agent may learn only the most basic type of contact, move to the operations floor for a time and then return to training for additional contact types. This can give the agent time to build confidence in a relatively simple process at first, building to more complex interactions over time. It also allows the center to ensure that the new hire will perform well, have good attendance and adherence, and find the work satisfying before making further investment in training.
Number in Training Class
When asked if the center holds training classes as needed regardless of size or waits for a minimum class size to build, almost three-quarters (72%) indicate that they have the classes as needed. This is especially true of smaller centers where the attrition may only require one or two new hires at a time. It is certainly more economical to hold a class for a group where feasible but that may not be possible if there is not a significant ongoing need.
Dedicated Training Facility
Respondents were asked if they have a dedicated training facility for the call center. Approximately three-quarters (74%) indicate that they do have such a facility. Once again, size of operation may be a significant factor. If the facility is in relatively constant use for either new hire or ongoing training, it is likely to be cost-effective to dedicate the space, technology, etc.
Dedicated Call-Taking Area
Survey participants were asked if they a dedicated “nesting” area in their center where new hires take their first calls. Sixty percent indicate that they do have this area set aside while 40 percent do not. It can be helpful to keep the new hires together as they take their first calls so that the trainer/supervisor can be close at hand, but this may not be possible in a smaller operation.
Delivery Methods for New Hire Training
Respondents were asked which types of methods they use for new hire training and multiple responses were accepted. Classroom and on-the-job methods were the most often selected with elearning and distance learning less utilized. However, with the recent shift to home working due to the corona virus, many organizations have adapted their training to remote delivery methods. While some centers may have had a small contingent of home-based agents before 2020, this situation greatly accelerated the need to adopt this way of working and training.
The respondents are evenly split in terms of offering a welcome package to new hires. This can be an effective introduction to the company, the center and help to make the individual feel welcome and answer frequently-asked questions. It also ensures that a checklist of items has been completed for the new hire rather than a piecemeal approach to making sure the person has everything they need to be successful.
Training Devoted to Product/Service Knowledge
Respondents were asked to indicate what percentage of new hire training is devoted to learning the products and services offered by the organization. Approximately one-third (35%) indicate that they spend 41 to 60 percent of the training time on these topics. One-quarter indicate that they devote 21 to 40% of the time to products/services. Only 12% use over 80 percent of the time for this while 8% use 20 percent or less of the training time.
Training Devoted to Computer System/Phone Training
Respondents were asked what percent of their training was developed to computer system/phone training. Over one-third each (39% each) chose 1 to 20 percent or 21 to 40% of the time. Only 6% total indicate that this effort is more than 60 percent of the training.
Training Devoted to Service and/or Sales Skills
More than half of the respondents (55%) indicate that they spend twenty percent or less of their training time on service/sales skills. However, a third (33%) indicate that they spend 21 to 40 percent of the training time on these skills.
Other Aspects in New Hire Training
Respondents were asked to select other aspects of their new hire training and multiple options were accepted. The most frequently selected topics were call center operations and staffing/scheduling issues. A welcome by executives and vocal skills were included by about half of the respondents while written skills and competition were the least selected topics.
Respondents were asked if they included a socialization aspect in new hire training where trainees get to know supervisors and other team members. Only 12 percent indicate that this is not included in the training. For many people, the opportunity to interact with and make friends with coworkers is an important part of the job. In addition, the relationship with the supervisor can make or break the job satisfaction. Ensuring that these aspects of socialization take place can improve employee retention and satisfaction.
Minimum Required Scores
Respondents were asked if the trainee was required to meet a minimum score on training tests prior to being placed on the phones. Over half (58%) indicate that they do require minimum scores while 42 percent do not. It is important to ensure that the new hire training curriculum is standardized to ensure that each person is given the same information before applying a test of knowledge as a criterion of success.
This survey provides insight into the processes used for new hire training. There is significant variation within the contact centers that responded to the survey, in part due to the range of sizes from under 50 to over 500 agent operations. However, there are opportunities for improving the training programs to ensure higher retention and success of the new hire agents. In addition, the recent move to more home-based agents will require significant adjustments to the ways that these personnel are trained.
We hope you will complete the next survey, which will be available online soon.