Companies that outsource their customer-contact support to Telvista expectcustomized service to be provided to their customers by teams of dedicated callagents, says Mary Jo Lichtenberg, executive director of professional services.That means Telvista has to train groups of reps to specialize in specific typesof calls, based on the client’s products, services, and support offerings,which can vary greatly. For example, 25 percent of Telvista’s calls come fromCompUSA customers, who may be using one of three different support offerings.Telvista handles CompUSA’s 30-day free general-support calls; dial-a-tech cardcalls, a pay-for-support service; and all of the dispatch requests and technicalproblems. "Each service has a different set of reps with a unique skill set,"she says.
Telvista works with each client to develop an agent profile and a detaileddocument outlining the tasks that agents must be able to perform and why. Theprofile lays out hard skills, such as mainframe experience, certifications,computer interface, and specific software expertise, as well as communicationand customer-service skills. Potential candidates are asked to role-play phonescenarios and demonstrate their knowledge of the necessary technology to provethemselves before being offered a position.
"If they don’t have a good foundation of training, there will be trouble on the floor."
Once they have been chosen, they are put through a rigorous training program.All candidates get the same training on the company’s computer interface andcommunication skills, but the rest of the course is customized to the agentprofile. For example, dial-a-technicians spend three weeks in training, whichincludes eight hours of customer-service skills, three days of operating-systemtraining, five days of hardware training, and five days of troubleshooting majorsoftware applications.
Most of the new-hire training is done with a live instructor in a lab, asopposed to Web-based training, Lichtenberg says. "Trainees have a lot ofquestions when they are learning how to support new applications or hardware. It’simportant they have access to a live instructor who can give them immediateanswers." Otherwise, they end up with gaps in their knowledge. "If they don’thave a good foundation of training, there will be trouble on the floor."
To build on that foundation, Telvista uses a suite of training and supporttools called eQuality from Witness Systems, Inc., a software-solution firmlocated in Chicago. The tools enable supervisors to monitor and record calls anddeliver online training modules directly to agents.
Supervisors use the monitoring tool to capture voice and data for at leastfive calls per agent per month. They judge the agents’ personal interactionwith customers, as well as the accuracy and consistency of their data logging."It’s important to be sure agents are entering the correct customerinformation into the CRM system," Lichtenberg says. "Just listening to acall wouldn’t provide that level of detail."
While monitoring calls, supervisors use an online evaluation form, based onthe client’s criteria, to rate the agent’s performance. If the score fallsbelow the standard established for that account more than twice in a month, theeQuality system automatically sends the agent a link to one of 25 onlinecustomer-service courses.
Supervisors also meet regularly with agents to discuss their performance andto play back some of their calls so they can hear themselves in action. Alongwith feedback on where they can improve, supervisors often play calls that areexamples of good behavior, Lichtenberg says. "We never view monitoring aspunitive. It’s an opportunity for us to work with the agents, to commend themon doing a good job, or to help them get better."
Workforce, March 2002, p. 66 -- Subscribe Now!