Training Update for 2008

By Rosanne D’Ausilio

Statistics consistently reinforce that the biggest challenge in today’s contact center environment is agent training. Turnover continues to be high, and new hire costs are on the rise; I’ve seen anywhere from $6,500 to $10,000 quoted per agent. At the same time, losing customers because of bad call experiences negatively affects the bottom line. What can you do? How do you justify the training expenditure?

Research has been making a case of how spending in human performance areas, such as training, translates into bottom line growth.  Accenture’s study on the impact of training on ROI has some interesting results.  First, in the area of recruitment, training opportunities were among the top three criteria people considered when deciding where they want to work (the other two are the opportunity for advancement and a good benefits package).

In the area of productivity, as a result of training, employees:

  • were 17 percent more productive
  • had 20 percent higher performance levels relative to their peer group
  • stayed with the company 14 percent longer
  • In the area of retention, employees who had access to training were:
  • two times more likely to expect to be with the company in two years
  • six times more likely to think the company was a “great place to work”
  • more likely to think they were fairly compensated

Dollar figures associated with their statistics for a fiscal year report the annual per person net benefit of $25,324.  They multiplied this number by their 50,000 employees, yielding a companywide benefit from training of $1.26 million.  By dividing the benefit by the cost of one year of training ($358 million), researchers concluded that the ROI (at Accenture) is 353 percent.

However, most organizations still do not provide comprehensive, let alone adequate, training in today’s marketplace. A recent report by the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA) showed that only 27 percent of service and support staff spend more than five days on annual ongoing training.

Beyond that, 82 percent of new hires feel that they do not receive much training in customer service skills, compared to only 18 percent who feel they do. What an exposure for a company to have: not only to not provide sufficient, robust training, but to have the majority of employees feel they weren’t provided with enough training, so they don’t have the tools necessary to do their jobs!

In another study, the good news is that nearly half of U.S. employers planned to spend more time and money on training in 2007 (Novations Group Survey). One of the top categories of training is customer service, followed by technical training, interpersonal/teamwork, and communications, on down to basic skills.

The part of this study that concerns me is that employers “plan to spend more time and money.” Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Let’s make sure the feet go where the mouth leads. As they say, talk is cheap; let’s get those training initiatives implemented.

After all, in today’s competitive environment, what separates one company from another is not their product or service, but their customer service. And who has that awesome responsibility to deliver this world-class customer service? Yes, your frontline agents who feel they haven’t been trained enough in customer service skills.

In a recent Training Magazine Study (November/December 2007), the training delivery methods reflect the following from year 2006 to 2007:

CM April 2008 #6

Where do you fit in the above stats? Are you taking great care of your agents so they can take great care of your clients and their customers? If not, I suggest you make this a priority. Create a training initiative today!

Rosanne D’Ausilio, PhD, an industrial psychologist, consultant, master trainer, best-selling author, executive coach, customer service expert, and president of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management. Over the last twenty-three years, she has provided needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings as well as executive/leadership coaching. Also offered is agent and facilitator university certification through Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality.

[From Connection Magazine April 2008]