Posted by Marsha Eisnor
Contact centers are often prone to transition. Whether it’s an in-house contact center moving to an outsourced environment for the first time or a migration of business from one outsourcer to another, knowledge transfer can be a big risk factor for both a successful transition and steady state operations. While any standard training program can communicate information and ensure agents have the knowledge and skill set to sufficiently function in their job, there is often a level of tacit knowledge experienced employees possess, which is only gained through years of experience. This is the information that is most difficult to instill within the standard training curriculum but which is essential to achieving an exceptional customer experience.
Here are some guidelines to ensure optimal agent training and the effective transfer of tacit knowledge:
- Seed the Program with Seasoned Employees— At the core of your customer experience management are contact center agents who possess functional knowledge as well as insight, confidence, and a deep understanding of the business they are supporting. Seeding the business during transition with agents either with direct experience of the program or with experience in similar programs helps set the bar higher throughout the launch. Additional mentoring of new employees by those who are more seasoned, can help mitigate the risk of high attrition and performance issues. Applying contact center expertise to a new environment shortens the learning curve for new hires with no production experience.
- Facilitate Hands-On Product Experience— To truly understand a business, outsourced agents need to experience it. In some cases, unobtrusively visiting local facilities, retail stores, processing centers, or other major hubs, either in person or virtually through video tours can be facilitated to ensure that practical knowledge that cannot be captured through standard classroom training is effectively communicated.
- Actively Monitor the Program— By actively monitoring the program once it goes live, contact center team leads ensure they are able to identify trends in metrics that could be related to a lack of tacit knowledge. Coaches, team leads, trainers, and agents should work collectively to determine potential root causes for any negative trending metrics, as well as to gauge perceived knowledge gaps within the program.
- Use a Knowledge Base or Call Libraries— Where knowledge gaps are identified, a knowledge base platform can ensure that fixes are well documented and that the information is easily accessible to all agents. Call libraries, which are collections of calls representative of ideal service delivery, can also be used. To augment training and coaching efforts, leverage call libraries either from the outsourcer or the internal operations team to help the agents understand what “good” sounds like and how an ideal call flow should progress.
- Use Job Aides – Whenever an issue is identified that has a level of tacit understanding associated, “Made Simple” job aids can pass on information that may not have been covered in training or that may be causing agents issues. These job aids should be based on research gleaned from identifying “top impacts” at both a CSAT and compliance level and then investigated to ensure that information is correct.
- Use Proficiency Passports— Proficiency Passports help break down the achievable functional knowledge, and also the harder to transfer, tacit knowledge and skills into achievable levels. By working closely with key stakeholders in the program, achievable knowledge/skills sets can be compartmentalized into “bite-sized pieces,” helping agents become proficient in “levels” gaining knowledge, confidence and more intangible true understanding along the way, which is then transferred to Proficiency “Passports.”
Providing agents with program-driven task and knowledge checklists helps establish the benchmark skills and abilities they will require in manageable stages, allowing them to work towards a progressively complex goal of full knowledge and skill transfer. By working more tacit elements into agent training (such as confidence in speaking to a specific topic) agents are coached indirectly to understand the key insight they need to deliver customer experience excellence. The end result is a truly optimized customer experience.