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Understanding Competencies Will Lead to Effective Training Programs

November 17, 2006

Training in the call center can make the difference between an agent’s success and failure. Ultimately, the same is true for the entire center. The challenge for call center managers is finding the right balance of training among the variety of experience, talents and skills for the different agents. A “one-size-fits-all” approach my seem like a cost effective measure, but in reality, it will really only be effective for those agents whose needs fit the training program.
When recruiting and hiring individuals to fill agent positions in the call center, managers must require certain skill sets and abilities in potential employees. These elements will ensure that prospective employees possess certain competencies before a job is offered or a training program is implemented. It is essential that call center managers communicate these competencies to human resources.
It is also important that call center managers correctly design job descriptions for each position that needs to be filled and match pre-requisite competencies to that position. Without this step, any call center training program will have a higher chance of failure as the individual will not be correctly placed in a position that matches their competencies.
In order to effectively design a training program, call center managers must identify what competencies they expect agents to acquire through training. A clear understanding of the differences between the pre-requisite competencies and the expected learned competencies will help to drive a more effective and targeted training program.
Conducting proper needs assessment from the start will enable the call center manager to identify gaps between what customer service representatives know and what they need to know. This gap then becomes the target for training. In the call center with multiple classifications, a unique curriculum is necessary to meet the needs of each individual specialty.
Ongoing training for the duration of an agent’s tenure with the call center is just as important as the initial training provided before beginning the job. Proper call monitoring will lend well to managers making assessments regarding performance to understand training needs. It is during call monitoring that the manager can identify strengths and weaknesses to focus coaching and training on areas where the agent needs improvement.
Correctly designing a training program for the call center will not only ensure that the center runs more smoothly, but it also helps contribute to a more satisfying work environment for the agent. In an industry where high turnover runs rampant, a satisfied agent is a tremendous asset.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page

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