Agents who work from home present different benefits and challenges for call centers. Workers who are physically in the call center have the opportunity to learn from walking around the center or listening in on a neighbor. Remote agents can miss out on this opportunity and experience.
Call Centers can use different methods when managing remote agents. The first challenge is deciding whether to train them remotely, bring them into the office or make a combination of both. Many approach this problem by remotely providing online training. If you choose to go this route, there are many things you need to consider to fine-tune it to remote agent needs.
Online training should be able to simulate real situations and give a peripheral learning experience so the agent can get a better idea of what they will face. It must include everything that on-site agents are taught and be readily available by instant messaging, conference calls and built into the website or desktop.
Make Sure the Technology Is Reliable and User Friendly
Remote agents must rely on these tools to maintain communication and service and can't simply walk over to their supervisor with an issue. Meaning, if they need extra help, they should have a library of accessible material and online trainers and supervisors must be available to help out home agents with any challenges and feedback.
Current remote agents are one of your best sources. Get tips and feedback from them as they are a great training resource for your new agents.
Use coaching sessions to help with best practices and communication between the agent and supervisor. This, combined with a learning application is a highly effective program to better equip remote agents. The application should monitor any improvements and new skills as well as automatically target training based on agent needs. Frequently measure your performance results to know the overall effectiveness of your remote call center training. A highly effective training plan means you must understand what your training objectives are and that they are aligned with what you want to achieve.
Make Sure the Training Covers More Than the Basics
Include the latest best practices, techniques, conflict resolution, policies, etc. Training should be part of your agent's entire career at your center and should not just be formal, but informal too. Include them in agent-only forums, social networks and coaching programs. Even with all the best training tools, you may find it necessary to require them to come to the office every so often to help you stay in touch with their training needs.
Finally, make sure your supervisors are getting the right education. They have a large influence on agent performance and turnover. Continuously train them in management, mentoring, and coaching.
Training this emerging type of workforce is something that companies are still learning to manage. With its low cost and high productivity, call centers must take on the responsibility to create training programs that recognize the value and potential that this special group has to offer.