Call Center E-Learning

Here is an article I came across that talks about e-learning, call centers and service providers. I thought it was good and decided to pass it along. It will run in a future issue of Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine.

The issue of customer satisfaction is important and when you think of the Vonage IPO you realize that customer churn is a major factor in the success of going public, being sold or doing business in general.

As you may have read in my most recent Vonage blog, 11% of new Vonage customers come from referrals. Anything a service provider can do to increase customer satisfaction rates is important. You may say that high levels of customer satisfaction are indeed crucial to the success of any business. Enjoy:

Using E-learning in the Call Center
By Melanie Stoll

Once a communications provider – wireline or wireless — wins a consumer, it must continuously deliver rich service experiences to keep that customer.  The single most common point of contact: the call center. 92% of customer transactions flow through the call center at a cost of $8-$10 per call. 85% of incremental revenues are initiated through customer calls[1]. And studies have shown that a customer who has a rich experience while having an issue resolved is more loyal than a customer that has had no service problems.[2] Clearly the call center, at the forefront of the provider-subscriber relationship, is critical to driving business objectives: customer retention and lifetime value. With millions of subscribers to serve and support, telecommunications companies must ensure that every center transaction is as efficient, productive and cost-effective as possible.

The most menacing problems in the call center are related to average call handling time (ACHT) and first call resolution (FCR) rates-the former being too high, the latter being too low, and the result being poor customer satisfaction which in turn contributes to churn and increased costs per subscriber. Where efficient, productive, high-quality customer service creates satisfied loyal users who buy more; poor customer service creates a vicious cycle of frustration, costly transactions, and the eventual customer churn. According to a 2003 J.D. Power & Associates study, the percentage of wireless subscribers who said they were likely to switch nearly quadrupled among those subscribers who rated their carriers customer care below average[3]. In a separate study of approximately 20,000 complaints against U.S. carriers, top cited criticisms included failure to rectify the problem, contradictory messages from the call center, and rudeness.[4]

The primary culprits in the customer service crisis: complexity and insufficient agent training. Agents are dealing with a wide, ever-changing variety of technical products as well as incredibly complex systems that manage customer data. It just takes longer to get things done…especially if you have not received adequate training on how to navigate through the system. This repeatedly puts agents in high-pressure situations in which they ultimately fail to solve problems. It’s no wonder that subscribers don’t feel loved, which explains high agent turnover rates in the first year. Consequently, critical customer transactions are left to a constantly changing workforce that collectively possesses very little product knowledge or call center expertise.

What can telecommunications operators do about this? Industry research has shown that telcos can greatly improve call center efficiency, employee success and esteem, and costs by implementing e-learning programs that rapidly get call center agents the skills and information they need to operate complex systems, stay up to date with the myriad technical products and services they support, and politely and consistently solve problems.  By keeping call center agents in the loop, Telcos can realize the improved customer loyalty and lifetime revenues they desperately need to survive in an increasingly competitive industry.

Employee training isn’t a new concept so why haven’t we seen more success in the telecommunications industry? Rapidity. Where training programs have lacked in the past is in sheer speed. Telcos can’t afford to wait. Technology and offerings change too fast and customer attention spans are too short. Traditional training solutions and learning management systems can’t keep up. Learning has to happen at the speed of business-responding to change quickly, effectively and comprehensively.

Enter e-learning. E-learning allows corporations to deliver faster, contextual, and cost-effective learning-whenever and wherever it is needed.[5] Network delivery makes it easy to roll out updated knowledge and track who has and hasn’t reviewed it. Centrally archived content can be updated immediately and made current for all users. Agents can use quite call times to participate in self-paced training at their workstations to stay abreast of new offerings and develop skills for career advancement.[6] Newly learned skills can be put to practice immediately-reinforcing learning. And stakeholders get feedback on learner participation and knowledge retention.

So how do we successfully exploit these benefits? Here’s a quick hit list for those looking to cut to the chase with rapid e-learning for the call center.

Enable individual contributors at any skill level to develop content
Developing compelling content does not have to be complicated. To shorten the process of getting training information from the people who possess it to those who need it, you need to leverage familiar tools and paradigms. A 2003 study[7] of e-learning professionals found that PowerPoint was the second most frequently used tool for creating e-learning content. Why? It’s practically ubiquitous, familiar to nearly everyone, and quick and easy to use. Virtually anyone can get up to speed quickly. So, unless you have on demand access to instructional designers, web developers, and IT staff supporting a full-blown learning management system, keep it simple by leveraging readily available skill sets and familiar tools to create content fast.

Incorporate rich content to accelerate and enhance knowledge retention
Numerous usability studies have shown that multimedia presentations deliver maximum knowledge in minimum time while achieving the highest retention and recall rates. Used in conjunction with readily available and easy-to-use content authoring tools, a familiar medium like PowerPoint can be readily transformed from boring text and bullets to engaging learning courseware complete with audio narration, graphics, quizzes, animations and simulations. These features are especially effective when the subject matter is complex or technical (such as communications technologies and service pricing schemes), and when your training goals stretch beyond simply broadcasting information to learning new skills (such as how to find and review a subscriber’s call history) and achieving certifications. But don’t over-design: Content should be user friendly and intuitive to navigate, not intimidating and frustrating.

Make learning content accessible
The value and impact of rapid training dissolve instantly when learners spend more than five minutes attempting to join or log in to a training session. Training content should be readily accessible regardless of browser, platform or operating system. Find out what’s required on the learner’s end to participate. Do they simply click on a URL or must a client be installed? Which platforms, browsers and operating systems are supported? Factors such as client size and interoperability limitations can significantly impact how quickly and broadly rapid training initiatives are adopted and accepted by learners, managers and executives.

Measure and tie achievements to the business
Only by measuring can you justify the e-learning investment by tying it to achievement of learning objectives such as new product competency and reduced training costs. The online aspect of e-learning makes it easy to track learner participation and performance, and report these metrics to key stakeholders in a timely manner. But to tie e-learning investment and achievement to all-important business goals, such as customer satisfaction and increased sales, it’s important to establish metrics and consistently measure before and after the e-learning initiative is implemented.[8] Short-term value such as training cost reductions can be measured as a one-off, but to illustrate long term and recurring value and encourage ongoing investment requires a little more planning and commitment.

Melanie Stoll is Solutions Marketing Manager for Telecom Vertical Marketing at Adobe Systems. She can be reached out

[1]Automated Self-Service Comes to Telcos, The McKinsey Quarterly, Web exclusive, February 2005

[2] Achieving First Call Resolution, The Ascent Group, Inc.,  2003

[3] J.D. Power & Associates Reports: Wireless Customer Switching Intent is Nearly Four Time Higher Among Users Who Rate their Services Provider Below Average in Customer Care, August 28, 2003

[4] Mobile’s dissatisfied customers, The McKinsey Quarterly, 2004 Number 3

[5] Metadata in Corporate E-Learning, The Seybold Report, October 20, 2004

[6] Justify e-Learning Investments in Three Phases, Gartner Research, October 13, 2005

[7] Bersin and Associates Study, March 2003

[8] Managing Knowledge in Internet Time, Larstan Business Reports, 2003

  • vijay
    May 24, 2006 at 12:35 am

    hai i wana join dell call center but i need some english traning

  • senthil murugan
    July 15, 2006 at 10:00 am

    I want US ascent english training

  • prashant
    September 4, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    i want to make my accent neutral.what to do ?

  • mahesh
    December 3, 2006 at 1:45 am

    i want us accent wht to do? I want to make my accent nutral tell me wht to do?

  • Kalavati
    August 28, 2007 at 5:26 am

    Any suggestions of good E-learning program we can use for India call centers?

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