Look to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Instructing New Employees
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Last month we looked at ways to streamline answering service agent hiring. Now that they’re hired, the next step is to optimize their training. For this initiative, we have two potential goals. One is to train better, and the other is to train faster. Ideally, we want to do both.
To address the speed element, we can look for ways to streamline training from both the company standpoint and the new hire perspective. When we streamline the trainer component, we reduce training costs and decrease trainer hours. When we streamline the trainee component, the new employee becomes productive faster and does so at a lower cost. This reduces the chance of them getting bored or frustrated during training and quitting. It also allows them to generate revenue for your answering service faster.
Here are some techniques to streamline agent training:
The more agents you can train at the same time by one instructor, the more efficient that trainer will be. This has the highest potential at larger answering services that hire and train more employees. But smaller answering services that typically train one agent at a time can still look to employ one-to-many training opportunities. Even if one trainer instructs two trainees, it will double the trainer’s output. But what about classroom-style environments with an instructor training four, eight, or even twelve employees at one time?
Though some aspects of training may require one-on-one instruction, look to minimize those instances whenever possible. This allows you to maximize the instructor’s effectiveness with one-to-many training scenarios.
Look for segments of training that are highly repetitive. Record the instructor giving that lesson. Then have future trainees watch the recording. This is a one-time investment that you can use repeatedly for many new employees for months or even years. Just be sure to periodically review the recording to make sure the information hasn’t changed. When the recording becomes out-of-date, make a new one.
Not every part of agent training requires an instructor. New employees can conduct some aspects of training by themselves. This may include reading training materials or engaging in hands-on interactive instruction. Though you might need to develop some of these tools yourself, you may be able to get others from your vendor or user group. Whenever possible, adapt what’s already provided instead of making your own.
Does your answering service have a high-volume account or a group of accounts that are easy to serve? It might be worthwhile to structure training so that your new hires can handle just this one high-volume account or a group of easy accounts quickly. This will let them gain experience early in the training process. And it will allow them to be productive much faster.
After they’ve taken these specific types of calls for a while, they can return to training and prepare to handle your other accounts. Not only does this benefit your TAS by having these new hires handle billable transactions quickly, but it also benefits the employee by giving them a break in their training and letting them take calls—which is what you hired them to do.
Streamline agent training to save money, improve results, and produce productive employees faster.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.