Customer service agents are the unsung — and often unseen — heroes of large scale organizations. They are impressive jack-of-all-trade employees — equal parts customer service agent, problem solver and sales rep — who are constantly on the phone with customers answering questions, putting out fires, or trying to sell upgrades and new products. Their work environment is busy, crammed with cubicles and constantly abuzz with phone chatter and the clicking of keyboards.
It’s a high velocity, high output, highly demanding position. Customers want quick access to a friendly and professional agent and expect an immediate response or resolution. As a result, service center management strive to minimize waiting times and call or chat times and delight customers on each and every contact. And, with pressure to transform the traditional call center into a revenue center, they try to retrain and retain employees.
Customer service center agents go through an intensive onboarding program to be “call ready.” Time to productivity is crucial, especially in a typically high turnover environment which cannot afford any downtime.
But once employees are onboarded, the time made for training diminishes to intermittent scheduled classroom sessions, brief team huddles, or new information shared via email, intranet or pop-up notifications. This is largely driven by the fact that all center employees are hourly workers and once employees clock out, there are no professional development expectations outside of work.
Because agents need to be trained on such a vast array of topics — such as product knowledge, sales skills, complaints handling, procedures, compliance, technology and so on — and master a lot of information quickly, traditional forms of training aren’t always effective as a standalone exercise. Compounding this problem is the fact that customer service centers are often based in satellite locations, away from the business, sales, marketing and operations teams in head office locations. The lack of face-to-face contact only adds to the learning challenge.
How can organizations provide customer service agents with a modality of training they can fit into their day and help them retain the critical knowledge they need to deliver great customer service?
The Solution: Microlearning
Because customer service center agents don’t have the time to be trained using traditional time-intensive methods, organizations need to rethink how to best equip them with the knowledge needed to be successful in their roles. And while technology has helped make training easier — like uploading documents, videos and other training materials into a learning management system (LMS) or intranet — these self-serve resources don’t help employees actually focus on and remember the most important information.
The best way to retain information is through microlearning, which is a form of continuous training that breaks down macro information into small, bite-sized pieces of content that is delivered repetitively over time. This form of learning, versus classroom training or one-off training exercises, is scientifically proven to increase knowledge retention and drive durable behavior change.
The aim of Qstream’s mobile microlearning platform is to combat the Forgetting Curve, which is a scientifically proven concept that shows 79% of new information is forgotten within 30 days. Qstream combats the Forgetting Curve with two microlearning principles: the Spacing and Testing Effects. Using these principles — and engaging learners with continuous testing over spaced intervals of time — has led to an improvement in knowledge recall by as much as 170%.
Why Employees Love Microlearning
Employees don’t typically enjoy participating in training initiatives. That’s not an indictment on frontline managers, training leaders or chief learning officers as much as it is based upon the fact that classroom training can be a one-way, theoretical information overload rather than job-specific and contextual. There is value in this modality but without reinforcement, the Forgetting Curve risk is high. Microlearning, however, is different on several levels.
The first — and most important for high-volume workers like customer service center agents — is that microlearning can be completed in the flow of work. Qstream's lessons or challenges can be completed within 2-3 minutes on a desktop, tablet or phone. This allows learners to engage no matter where they are and doesn’t force them to leave their desk.
Qstream also plays into a human’s natural competitiveness by using game mechanics, which create an engaging learning experience and induce collaboration between team members. By mimicking the effects of digital game experiences, Qstream provides instant feedback on responses, imparts a sense of accomplishment, and rewards achievements through points and individual or team leaderboards. These factors are proven to amp up engagement, with Qstream clients experiencing an average participation rate of at least 90% over the last decade.
Microlearning Insights for Managers
Microlearning doesn’t only promote continuous learning; it also promotes continuous teaching. Each microlearning training initiative collects data points from participants’ answers, which pinpoints individual and team strengths, as well as knowledge gaps that might otherwise have gone undetected. Having this insight in real-time — rather than waiting on monthly customer surveys or quarterly meetings with employees — allows frontline managers to address knowledge gaps immediately and fix small issues before they become big.
Qstream presents this data in a variety of ways — like real-time dashboards, proficiency heatmaps, and graphs — that not only help managers compare results to industry standards, but also show initial and final proficiency gains, which can help CLOs and other learning leaders when proving the return on investment of their corporate training programs.
Enhance Customer Service Center Agent Training
Schedules worked by call center agents aren’t conducive to traditional training methods — but that doesn’t mean their training should be downplayed or that agents need to be taken away from important tasks. Microlearning is an easy-to-use and simple training solution for customer service center agents and other remote workers in various industries such as sales, healthcare and financial services.
If you’re interested in learning more about how microlearning can make an impact on your customer service center performance, contact us today.