Virtual Learning: Training the Next 10 Million Call-Center Agents

4 minute read, posted on 05/21/2020, by Heidi Solomon-Orlick

virtual leaning

Are you ready to train the next 10 million call-center agents with a monitor and props? Virtual learning takes new thinking…and a lot of smiles.

In the BPO world, depending on the country,  we can rotate and train up to 10% of our agent workforce monthly. You can’t manage churn like that without a foundation of outstanding training. That often means full-time learning boot camps that last two to six weeks.

The traditional brick-and-mortar training environment is a smoking hole thanks to Covid-19. Yet business continues. Customer needs don’t disappear – in fact, they have intensified. You need to pivot to virtual learning. Instantly. Like yesterday.

It’s not easy. But it’s not hard either. It takes 3 Ps: Planning, Passion and a new Paradigm.

Here are 8 fast tips to make the virtual leap to virtual learning, courtesy of VXI executives Heidi Solomon and Peter Mullen with hat tips to inclusive leadership trainers like Julie Kratz, Top 10 Instructional Designers, and VXI’s own agent training guru, Sarah Rubueno:

  1. Get Used to It: Virtual learning is here to stay. More specifically, blended virtual delivery (combined with “live” brick and mortar) will be the new norm.
  2. (Early) Pain Brings Long-Term Gain: Virtual learning is not simply an extension of in-person learning. While the content may be the same or similar, the delivery must be dramatically different. Virtual learning requires different skillsets from your trainers and requires a different emphasis in order to be impactful to your learners. As a learning leader on the frontlines you must know your audience and continue to take into consideration different learning styles and learner personalities. When experiencing the short-term pain during this transition, remember this 1 thing: You.Are.Building.A.New.Model.
  3. Show Your Love: Virtual learning presents unique challenges around engagement and interaction. Find new ways to involve your learners. Create friendship sessions to build online camaraderie and virtual break-out rooms to build teamwork. In a recent survey rolled out in a webinar by Julie Kratz called Virtual Training: Is it the New Norm?, 84% of participants polled said that interaction was their most critical focus when developing compelling virtual content. Review how TikTok and Ted Talks keep us engaged and follow their principles (think: shorter content, humor, things that touch our humanity). Integrate tools like videos, polling and chat. But most importantly, make the content relevant to your learners and measure results through pre- and post-assessments. Doing so will have a 2x lift in engagement.
  4. Set Your Old Content on Fire: No, we’re not talking about your core learning principles and outcome goals. But your instructional design needs to start fresh. Things are different in pixels. Just as you need to engage more (above), you also want to “give people space” to digest content privately – that’s a great value of virtual learning, giving people time to digest content and think before they share.
  5. Power Forward. Your executives and clients may perceive training as a lower priority right now. Many are pausing training funding. In truth, training and employee development have never been more important. Mess up agent onboarding and everything following it falls apart. Clients are reaching out for advice on innovative ways to revamp and innovate their training content and delivery. The partner that helps its client figure this out will be the beneficiary of long-term growth.
  6. Blend that Environment. At VXI, we’re testing hybrid learning models in Youngstown, Ohio, Los Angeles and other sites. New agents are being trained both onsite (with significant social distancing) and then at home. Just as many corporate workers will now toggle back and forth between home and office, learning will, too.
  7. Turn Up the Rocky Music. Motivation is one of the biggest issues in the workplace today. Those that set goals are more successful. Learning can help with goal setting and goal achievement.
  8. Personalized Learning Is Key. Know your audience. Virtual learning provides psychological safety but the learning leader still needs to address different learning styles. For example, virtual learning works particularly well for introverts, not so much for extroverts. If you’re a trainer, set aside 15% of your (very limited) time to get to know your trainees. It matters. Also set engagement rules on Day One. Require participation. Conversely, require limitations so that guy in the virtual corner doesn’t dominate the conversation.

VXI’s Training Simulator has been successfully supporting several client programs across more than 20 locations in 5 countries. For the world’s largest telecommunications company,  see how it has not only reduced customer churn but increased sales as well.

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