What if distributed contact centre workforces were more than a temporary solution? Many companies are coming to this realisation: that in some cases, the benefits of having agents work from home outweigh returning to a brick-and-mortar location. But relocating agents during a crisis is one thing and providing them with the training and resources needed for the long term is entirely different. Based on years of experience training work-from-home associates, we’ve compiled a list of the key practices for optimising the training process to enable work-at-home agents to begin supporting customers quickly and efficiently.
1. Establish clear expectations and guidelines
A successful remote training program needs clear learning goals and communication guidelines. Schedule a discussion with each associate about the expectations for the training process. Also, discuss how the trainer and associate will communicate and how often. This is especially important for a work-at-home environment, given the lack of direct supervision during the process.
Pro tip: We recommend starting with a learning assessment to identify the associate’s learning practices and strengths and areas to focus on.
2. Make learning fun and personalised
Giving associates the freedom to learn at their own pace from different devices can help to keep them engaged and increase information retention. While the learning goals should be clearly defined, the path to reaching these goals should be flexible. For example, we offer a catalogue of digital courses including gamified content, podcasts and other digital content that enables associates to control the pace and method in which they learn.
Pro tip: Create an online space where associates can challenge each other as they’re learning, such as a multiplayer game environment with a leaderboard.
3. Stay connected
One of the biggest tradeoffs to working at home is the lack of impromptu discussions and chance encounters. Without a communication lifeline, many remote employees feel isolated. This is where chat groups and forums can go a long way in helping employees feel connected to the company and their teams. Create a chat group or forum around a particular learning topic where employees can share notes and tips as if they were in the office.
Pro tip: Use video calls as a default conversation tool. It helps to ensure employees are paying attention (as opposed to multitasking) during meetings and closely resembles face-to-face conversations.
4. Don’t forget about your management support
When training employees remotely, many companies forget about management support. Supervisors, trainers, and other facilitators who are new to working remotely also need assistance. We recommend creating an online resource such as a forum or FAQ that managers can use for help trouble shooting training issues.
Pro tip: An outsourcing partner whose associates are already familiar with a company’s products and services can be an excellent resource for internal managers who are seeking advice on resolving issues remotely.
5. Check in frequently
When working with remote employees, it’s important for supervisors to connect frequently. Two-way communication is vital for continuously improving a training program. For instance, quick daily one-on-one video meetings allow the trainee to ask questions and share feedback about the training process. This will also help maintain the personal element of the process.
Pro tip: Combine virtual training programs—which can be administered, tracked, and analysed for real-time results—with live video conversations to optimise and speed up the learning process.
Remote workers represent a huge business advantage; they allow companies to tap into a wider pool of talent and reduce overhead costs, helping accelerate business growth and development, especially when traditional workplaces are unavailable. But in order to get the most value from this approach, companies need to ensure that they have the right training structures and resources in place to support their remote staff and help them reach their fullest potential.