Training Talks—Onboarding vs. Ongoing Training: A Chat with Neal Topf

At Lessonly, we’ve helped hundreds of teams across the globe learn, practice, and Do Better Work. We found that the best teams examine their training efforts through six key phases: Assess, Plan, Build, Learn, Practice, and Perform. That’s why we decided to create Lessonly’s Better Work Guide to Customer Service Training.

In the process of putting together The Better Work Guide, Lessonly’s VP of Marketing, Kyle Lacy talked with Neal Topf, President at Callzilla, a full-service outsourced contact center and BPO serving US and European enterprises. See what Neal has to say about the crucial onboarding period for new customer service reps and why continuous training is just as important for success.

Kyle: Thanks for talking, Neal. Let’s dive into the first question. What are the top things you think about when it comes to having a great customer service training and enablement program?

Neal: First, I must facilitate the transition form a new hire to a fully onboarded employee who can hit the ground running as quickly as possible and with as narrow of a learning curve as possible. By the time that person answers the first phone call, handles the first chat, or responds to the first email, I need that person’s experience and knowledge set to be on the same level as the rest of the team. We don’t have the luxury of a slow onboarding process like the past. Current clients and customers expect to have someone in place who knows exactly what they’re talking about. They need to know how to resolve situations and provide satisfactory customer experiences from day one. 

This also means the notion of a training classroom has evolved. In the old days, it was a training classroom with a trainer and “death by PowerPoint” model. That doesn’t work anymore, especially with a younger workforce. Contact center agents get bored with that type of format very quickly. Now, we must use a strong e-learning program that provides as much interaction and engagement as possible so we can train on more material in a shorter period of time. It can make a big difference when it comes to getting people out of training, onto the contact center floor, and prepared to service customers. That is our biggest challenge and we need to create a path for both immediate and ongoing opportunities. 

See more customer service onboarding tips from Neal and 15 other industry experts. Check out The Better Work Guide to Customer Service Training.

Kyle: When it comes to ongoing opportunities, we call that continuous training. When you envision it right now, what types of problems can ongoing training solve? 

Neal: The word “continuous” is the keyword. You’re absolutely correct. Training is not a one-time exercise. It does not start and stop. It is continuous. The phases of training and onboarding are just chapter one. Then, there’s the ongoing set of training that’s determined by a couple of different groups. When we handle customer interactions, we realize there are things reps may not know or information that doesn’t exist. Customers also evolve and expect different service. Products, internal policies, technology, and communication change and it creates a ripple effect. We need to update our training to reflect those changes. 

Then, there are things that contact center leaders detect on their own through exercises like QA or interaction monitoring. That’s when we can identify if a contact center missed something or said something incorrectly. When that happens, it’s important for us to get feedback and see if we need to train or retrain the team on a certain topic. It helps us get those next steps and determine the frequency for training.

Kyle: Great advice, Neal. I have a follow-up question on that. Do you have any thoughts on the best way to provide effective ongoing training?

Neal: It’s not ideal to pull an entire set of contact center agents off the floor and put them back into a training room. We want to make training as on-demand as possible. This is beneficial for a few reasons. First, when they have a few minutes of downtime, they can actually educate themselves without going back into the classroom. Secondly, if they’re actually involved in an interaction with a customer, they have a knowledge base or repository where they can go look for the answers. That is extremely important for today’s contact centers. Those old school methods don’t work anymore. 

Do Better Work with Lessonly’s Customer Service Training Guide

Great customer service requires great onboarding and ongoing training. Don’t miss your chance to get insights, best practices, and tangible steps to Do Better Work. Read The Better Work Guide to Customer Service Training and get started today.

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