I'm still researching this via a variety of organizations, but ask for everyone's input.

1) How long is your new-hire training program for call center agents? (hours, days, weeks,  . . . ) This typically includes corporate orientation, technical skills using your systems, your company's
products and services, and other customer service skills as necessary.

2) Do you also add on a transition or probationary period after initial new-hire training? This may include close monitoring with a senior agent or supervisor, a more isolated or protected environment
similar to but not exactly like the call center floor, etc.  How long
does this transition period last?

3) What do you think your organization is doing differently in your new-hire on-boarding process, something that you rarely see other organizations doing? (anywhere in that process: advertising the job,
recruiting/screening, interviewing/hiring, orientation & training,
integration with the organization and work team, etc.)

4) Do you use a "certification" process of any kind?

5) How many hours or days of training do you provide for ongoing development of a call center agent each year? What is the ratio of technical or product/service knowledge compared with soft skills? 

6) Has your total training time, both new-hire and ongoing (per year) changed over the past several years? Are you doing more or less? What prompted the change?

Thanks for any and all replies. I'll post a summary of the results approximately 1 month after posting this request.

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Hi Terry

On average call centers' new training program is 33 which is spent in a mixture of classroom and on the job training. This increases in the more complex industries, of course. Then the average for ongoing training is 10 days. The best call centers definitely do put in place a sort of safe enviornment when reps first go onto the phones, with a sup: CSR ratio of closer to 5:1. As for certification -- this is a great way to go. We recommend that you get Customer survey data on reps the minute they hit the floor as you want to know customer feedback and you integrate this into your coaching. We have a program for certification based on customer feedback that rewards sustained world class service.
Thanks Sarah. Great input.
Is there any specific certification you recommend?
Hi Terry,

In addition to Sarah’s feedback, I would add that it is very important to have an ongoing training and development program for your agents. As far as the mix between product/service knowledge vs. soft skills, that will depend on the industry and how often the product/service offering changes. Expect to mix 50/50. A combination of classroom as well as online training can be offered. And of course, all training should be tracked and credited to the agent. You can create your own internal certification program and skill levels based on training completed, i.e. Contact Agent I, Contact Agent II, Contact Agent III, etc. Contact centers should resist the pressure to cut back on training even in tough economic times. This is not merely a cost – it is an investment in people who deal directly with your customers.

Kind regards,

Bill Leinweber
Customer Experience & Operations Strategist


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