Ryan Farley, co-founder of LawnStarter Lawn Care, shares three tips that his company has learned from training homewokers at a 100+ person completely distributed call centre.
Growing cities and crowded highways are forcing more of us to work from home. It’s a perk for call centre workers and stay-at-home parents who don’t have to worry about daycare.
A typical help-wanted ad for a work-at-home call centre representative will often tell applicants, “Remote training on required systems from your home”. But training remote workers brings a whole set of challenges.
The stereotypical view of remote training is the click-through-video that many employees will try to complete as quickly as they can. Employers don’t always put much emphasis on knowledge retention. But newer technologies, like web video conferencing, can boost your ability to reach employees.
Here are three tips for training a call centre remotely that our company has learned – from experience – about training homeworking advisors.
1. Engage With Homeworkers Before Training Begins
Increased engagement can lead to increased memory retention. But it’s difficult enough to engage employees in a face-to-face setting, let alone in a homeworking setting where they can be distracted by things the trainer can’t see. So engagement should begin before the training ever starts.
The trainer can set the tone of the session by sending participants a quick synopsis of the material. Sometimes it’s a video followed by a short questionnaire, asking the trainees about themselves (their names, why they have chosen remote call centre work, and what they hope to get out of the training).
Questions may include whether there are any obstacles or difficulties with the training. For example, a call centre trainee may say he or she is concerned about learning about a particular software system or new equipment. Others may feel the training will be boring and a waste of their time.
Having this feedback gives the trainer a good snapshot of how to approach the employees, where to focus, and where to anticipate questions or concerns. By having that information ahead of time, the trainer might even be able to tailor the material.
This exchange of information also allows employees to get an understanding of the material they’ll have to master. Setting and limiting expectations is one way the trainer can keep remote call centre employees focused. He or she will also have a better understanding of whether employees have completed the expected goal by the end.
2. Ask Homeworkers to Share What They Have Learned
The last thing a company should spend money on is ineffective training that no one will remember.
Research from Washington University shows that people who read material and then answer questions about it retain the information better than those who simply re-read it.
With this in mind, ask trainees to demonstrate their comprehension. This way you’ll know they understood the information and will remember it for the long term.
Also, a quiz at the end of training is an effective way to wrap things up.
But what if you’re training call centre workers on new software? A traditional quiz may not help employees remember how to operate the system. That’s where technology like screen capture software comes in. It will allow the trainer to give call centre employees a scenario to demonstrate their new knowledge.
A third option to help trainees retain the information is a video. Have each trainee record a selfie video and share it with the trainer. It may seem silly and self-conscious, but the science is clear: Studies show talking out loud makes a memory distinctive. That distinctiveness may help workers remember and use the information more effectively.
3. Praise Homeworkers for Their Good Work
Once remote training begins, the interactive tone becomes critical. You need to keep your employees engaged in the material, whether it’s a technical topic or an annual refresher on company policies.
Researched published in the Harvard Business Review showed that workers who felt disconnected from the company were twice as likely to quit in the next year. With this in mind, a trainer should take a moment and publicly recognise the trainees. Praise them for rising to the occasion after a high-volume call spike.
Recognising employees during training makes them feel more connected to the company’s goals and values. It also makes them more receptive to the instruction at hand.
Remote work is a growing trend across the country and training remote representatives is a skill that benefits call centres.
The lack of face-to-face interaction can be an obstacle, but remote communication does not have to be a one-way street.
These tips for training a call centre remotely focus on getting trainees to engage with the trainer, and the training material.
Homeworking advisors should end the session feeling a stronger tie to the company, which can improve their engagement, performance and morale.
Ryan Farley is Co-Founder of LawnStarter Lawn Care, an online marketplace that helps you order, manager and pay for lawn care.