How to Win the eCommerce Contact Center Training Challenge

 Nitto Learn - How to Win the eCommerce Contact Center Training Challenge

eCommerce companies take pride in their customer experience. Each customer touchpoint is carefully thought through and the companies rely on their contact center agents to provide an out-of-the world experience.

Since customer experience plays such a crucial role, ecommerce companies keep a tight hold on customer support processes and train agents on these processes. Most eCommerce companies outsource customer support to partners, but the responsibility of ensuring high quality of support is with the company's training and quality team.

Note: We have used the term training team to represent the principal training team at any ecommerce company for the ease of reading.

Key sections

  • The training team's key objective
  • Challenges in meeting the objective
  • Mechanisms and tools used for contact center training today
  • Need for a specialized solution

Key objectives of the training team

The main objective of the training team is to ensure the business has the required number of agents certified on required skills, available on the floor - on time, all the time.

To this end, the training team controls and defines the what, when and how much training is required and how to deliver it. They are responsible for all aspects of training:

  • Conducting Training Need Analysis
  • Planning the required training programs
  • Defining program structure and content
  • Ensuring that partner trainers are well equipped and well-trained
  • Tracking the outcomes of training programs

Challenges in meeting the objective

A major challenge the training team encounters is the fact that support agents are distributed across multiple locations and partners. This is what a typical ecommerce contact center structure looks like.

Distributed support agents at Contact Centers - Nittio Learn LMS

The training team can only achieve the main objective when it addresses and perfects the three key aspects of training, a) training logistics, b) training delivery, and c) tracking training outcomes - successfully. Let us look at the nature of these aspects individually.

The challenge of training logistics

  • Distributed teams:Since agents are spread out across multiple locations and partners, the training team needs a high degree of coordination with each center and partner.
  • Always hiring:Growing business and high churn of agents means that there is a continuous need for new hire training. The quality of training of new hire agents determines how they would perform on the floor. The principal team has to ensure this quality.
  • Seasonal demand:Brands see seasonal sales as an opportune moment to launch new products. This combination of a big sale and new product launches generate huge call volumes at contact centers that demand more agents on the floor. The training team has to achieve the call center headcount projections by training temporary new hires on products and processes in a short span of time.

The challenge of content creation and training delivery

  • Content volume::The training team has to generate all the content required for training. Since the business is rapidly evolving, there is always the need for new training content, and updating existing content, increasing the volume of training content required. The creation of training content is typically a bottleneck. While instructor-led sessions require slides for trainers, online learning programs also require building new eLearning material. And in both cases - ILT and eLearning - assessments need to be built-in as well.
  • Training the trainers:Once the program structure is defined, the training team has to train the trainers (in-house and partner) and equip them with the right training materials.
  • Keeping content up to date:The training team should ensure that the materials shared with trainers are always up to date and that partner trainers only use up to date material.
  • Managing training batches:The team must ensure that the required training sessions are well planned, especially the NHTs, update training programs, define how many batches should happen at which partner and when, etc. All of this has to be well-coordinated with all partners.

The challenge of tracking training outcomes

  • Getting real time visibility:The training team has to track and monitor ongoing training batches across all partners. They also need real-time visibility on agent headcount in each training batch, their performance, certification rates, to project how many trained agents will be certified to go on the floor on time.
  • Gaining reliable insights:Training teams often do all this on spreadsheets. This makes data collection a human-intensive task making it difficult and error-prone. Extracting meaningful insights from this data is nearly impossible in real-time.
  • Doing it continuously:Besides, this is an ongoing need. The training team needs up to date data for internal reporting and to spot risks on time.
Training challenges at Contact Centers-Nittio Learn LMS

Mechanisms and tools used for contact center training today and how they solve (or don't) the above challenges

Training teams at ecommerce contact centers use one or a combination of the following mechanisms and tools.

Instructor-led training (ILT)

ILT is the most obvious and often used mechanism for training agents for contact centers. While ILTs were mainly classroom-driven in the past, the push to remote working has now made contact centers conduct ILTs virtually using web conferencing softwares such as Zoom, Google Meet, or MS Teams etc.

The training delivery teams at partner centers have to put a lot of effort in planning and creating training batches for individual sessions. While creating new hire training batches is relatively simple, creating training batches of agents who are already on the floor is a pain. It involves taking agents off the system and therefore requires extensive planning by the operations team.

To ensure high training quality, the training team has to:

  • Train the trainers,
  • Ensure that updated training material is available for the trainers,
  • And ensure that partner trainers follow the required training processes.

To track the performance and progress of each training batch under each trainer, the training team has to implement a rigorous reporting process that makes spotting business risks and under-performances easy.

What does relying on ILT mean for a contact center?

Transitioning classroom-driven ILTs into virtual ILTs is a tough task. Trainers usually find it difficult to manage and interact with batches with a lot of learners in the virtual set up. Not only that, the constant demands of training NHTs and product updates means contact centers need a large training team to meet erratic training demands. So, in the context of contact centers, executing ILTs at scale becomes an operational nightmare.

Training Management System (TMS)

A TMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of instructor-led-training programs. Training teams use it for managing all the classroom training.

Does TMS work for a contact center?

Contact centers need to heavily customize TMSs to make it seamlessly work for their multi-partner environment. Off-the-shelf TMSs are not able to provide visibility of agent performance and the overall status of training batches to the central training team. With most contact centers using online learning of some form, a TMS is not able to provide a holistic view across instructor led training and online learning.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

In a contact center environment, an LMS is used to deliver self-paced learning for support agents. Theoretically, an LMS is an ideal solution for solving the challenges of contact center training. Not only is eLearning ideal for distributed environments (training partner agents), it also scales without needing to hire a lot of trainers to match fluctuating training demands.

But a typical use of an LMS in a contact center is limited to two use cases - a) few static training for compliance, company values, brand narrative etc. and b) conducting assessments.

Why do LMSs remain a sideshow in contact centers?

Traditional LMSs aren't ideal for contact centers as delivering constantly-evolving training programs such as process training and product training becomes difficult. As training content needs to be refreshed or updated all the time, creating and updating training content for LMSs becomes time consuming and expensive.

Even if the organization is willing to invest money continuously for fresh content creation, the time taken to produce eLearning content takes weeks or even months. Contact center training teams at ecommerce companies do not have the luxury of spending/wasting so much time.

Most training teams do not prefer using LMSs for assessments as they tend to be difficult to use. They instead opt for online quizzing tools as these are easier to operate.

MIS (Management Information Systems)

Training teams need a centralized database to store the training logistics and assessment related information such as - what trainings were done at what time, what was the duration, who was the trainer, who were the participants, assessment scores, certification records, individual attendance records etc. - and this is where the MIS comes in.

However, unlike other industries, contact centers in ecommerce have unique requirements. The training team has to monitor complex KPIs such as - the number of training batches that are being run, knowing if each milestone of each batch was met on time, what are the certification throughputs, etc.

How effective is a training MIS?

Training teams tend to receive data from partners via spreadsheets. The fact that inputs are given manually and consolidation is also carried out manually, means that a lot of effort is spent in maintaining an MIS. The lack of automation in data collection, analysis, and reporting reduces the reliability of insights from manually generated reports.

Need for a specialized solution

Contact Centers find it excruciatingly tedious to make these siloed solutions work together and get a meaningful view of training efforts. Besides,

  • Instructor-led training does not scale as it is operationally challenging, and it isn't easy to track and monitor each session in real-time.
  • Traditional LMSs are not good enough for the frequent and fast content push.
  • TMSs can't address the needs of a multi-partner contact center,
  • And MISs require large amounts of manual efforts.

Therefore, we created Nittio Learn - a single system that seamlessly satisfies all the needs of a distributed Contact Center's training team. Imagine everything that you wanted from your TMS, LMS, and MIS - but all rolled into one.

  • Easy to operate for central training teams and partner trainers.
  • Effective learning for agents learns through interactive content and simulation practice.
  • Automated data collection, reports, and insights.
Nittio Learn - Training Solution for Contact Center Training

Nittio Learn isn't part TMS, part LMS, and part MIS put together. It is an entirely different take on how all of these combine to serve the need for contact centers effectively.


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