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The Basic Building Blocks for Agent Training

by Antoine Vaba | July 31, 2019

When building your customer support team, one of the key steps is preparing the support agents who will be talking to your customers every day. That is no small task. Your agents will be the voice of your company, and the first point of contact for customers. They need to have the appropriate knowledge to help your customers and leave them with a good impression of your brand. It is your job to make sure they are adequately prepared and trained.

As Training Lead at 5CA, not only do I provide training to new agents almost daily, I’ve also prepared trainings from scratch and helped update current trainings. Being involved in the entirety of the process has taught me how to structure and provide effective training and most importantly, how to build the foundation for a new training program. Today, I want to explain to you how to make use of the key building blocks for putting together your first training plan; Content, Time, and People. Let’s dive in.

Basic building blocks for agent training

Devise a plan

Preparing your agents first means preparing yourself and the training that will be given. This means, coming up with a plan and documenting it, this will be useful for both for you, and for the trainees. Your training will most likely be composed of a written part that can be used as a general core knowledge guide for agents, and a face-to-face part, for an interactive training experience.

Organize your plan in the key areas I mentioned earlier: Content - Time - People.

 

Content

The key step in creating a training is determining what knowledge you need your audience to take away from it. Having that goal in mind, you can start working on the most important ingredient: Content.

Start by creating a list of your ideas and the topics you need to cover. If more people are involved in the process, I recommend making use of a project management tool such as Trello and collaboration tools like Microsoft’s or Google’s office suites. These tools are an excellent way to work as a team on content creation, of which you’ll be doing plenty.

Use your list of topics as a roadmap for your training. As the list grows, you will soon notice that these ideas can be categorized and built into an actual plan and structure for your training. Once your structure is in place, it’s time to start considering what content types are best suited to your audience, and the information you’re trying to convey.

Learn more about how to use your training platform and content to create engagement:

How to keep your employees engaged with your e-learning platform.

 

Time

The next step when creating a content plan is to think about how long the training will last. This will depend, of course, on the amount of information you’ll need to convey and the available time you and your trainees have. Will the training be divided over several days, or is one day enough? Are you going to have breaks or just run through the content in one go? Have these questions in mind and write down an estimate, based on this, you can start working on your content plan.

At the start of your training, inform you trainees of the available time and how it will be divided. This will give clear time constraints and objectives to everyone involved, and it is a good way for everyone to be aligned on the progress of the training.

Setting times is not only helpful when planning or giving the training, but it will also come in handy after the training is done. At first, your estimated time might not reflect the actual time the training took. Maybe some points needed further explanation, or perhaps others took too long. Take this as a learning moment you can look back on, to assess and improve your training accordingly.

 

People

Not only is it important to consider who will be responsible for giving the training, but also who will be responsible for creating training assets and keeping them up to date. Can you think of other participants or subject matter experts to help enrich your training?

Also, keep in mind that your training will have a face-to-face element. Think about your trainees, what is their level of expertise or their background? Keeping this in mind will help you create the best program for them. This makes it easier to create engagement and is also establishes the perfect opportunity to learn more about your agents and align on your way of working.

 

A Global Approach: Gathering Feedback and Improving

For these 3 aspects of training, remember to have a global approach. Always try and think of customers, the vision of your company, products, and of course, agents.

For your Content, it means giving context to your agents. Supporting the customer experience means more than just being able to provide a correct answer. As an agent, it also means representing the brand’s DNA, getting a bigger picture of the product, company, and people, and what it really means to be the voice of the company.

A global approach for Time, means you are not just considering the training duration, but how time can be used, the pace you should use, the time constraints and how you can play around them. It is also remembering that training people means giving knowledge to people. Knowledge is something you build and nurture, and that is also true when training agents on supporting customers. The pace and organization of your training will be crucial for it to be successful. In other words, it is not always just about being fast. It is about making the right choices in terms of time investment while keeping the human factor in mind.

For People, it is about remembering that the discussions you will be having with your trainees are already an example of communication in your company. Setting a good example is crucial. It is also important to remember that our business relies on people: the people in your company, partners, agents, and of course, customers.

That global approach will also help in that regard. Exploring the different perspectives of each of the aspects of your training is already giving you a broader view of the potential of each of these aspects. Going into details when creating a training feedback survey then becomes easier.

To sum it up, your training program will mainly revolve around three key areas; Content, Time and People. These should then be built with a global approach, to pave the way for constructive feedback, which is the starting point for excellent training.

 

Antoine Vaba

Antoine Vaba

Antoine is the Training Lead at 5CA. Antoine's passion and work are to accumulate knowledge and find the best and most innovative ways to convey that knowledge. He is also co-founder of a startup called Monkey Bidouille, loves retro gaming and is a vinyl and music lover.

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