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Want a Successful CCaaS Migration? Invest in Agent Training

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Training contact center agent
Image: Yuri Arcurs - Alamy Stock Photo
When thinking about all the work that goes into making any large (or small) change to an enterprise’s technology stack, one expression comes to my mind — it takes a village. While the final purchase decision is often made by a person or team of stakeholders, implementing that change often requires a wider level of coordination between enterprise leadership at all levels and end users. And this is especially the case when it comes to migrating from an on-prem contact center system to a contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) system, and training users on this new platform.
 
Though user adoption remains a challenge for enterprise IT leaders across the board, training contact center agents on a new CCaaS system has some unique business challenges. For one, enterprises still need to deliver a robust customer experience (CX), even during this in-between time. Any serious interruption can impact CX, and ultimately, an enterprise's bottom line.
 
In this third installment of our multi-part series on migrating from an on-prem contact center to CCaaS, we look at how contact centers can ready themselves for the go-live date of a new system through proper training and education.
 
(To read the first part in the series on what enterprises need to consider for a CCaaS offering, click here. To read the second part on factoring AI and omnichannel into that decision, click here.)
 
Figuring Out Training Logistics
When it comes to training contact center agents on a new CCaaS platform, independent communications consultant Melissa Swartz and contact center consultant Bob Furniss, senior director of global salesforce for consulting firm Slalom, both see the logistics and timing of training as being a key component of a successful migration. "When you're doing a platform change of any kind, whether it's your calling platform or major apps, everybody has to be trained — and that's tricky from a scheduling perspective," Swartz said.
 
To ensure a timely training schedule, the IT department responsible for making the technology change will need to work alongside contact center leaders to find opportunities to take agents off of calls and train them on the new platform without impacting customer service, Swartz said. Alternatively, a contact center might opt to offer overtime for training purposes. Beyond just finding the time within the agents’ schedules, IT and contact center leaders will need to ensure that the training happens within a relatively close timeframe to the service go-live date to maximize information retention from the training.
 
Furniss also sees the "time that occurs between the training sessions and the actual go-live" date as being "the biggest detriment to successful training for most organizations." Pre-COVID, getting all the users together in a classroom took work, but now, with hybrid work and work-from-anywhere, getting the people together is even more difficult, he noted. And just as Swartz shared, training everyone — including supervisors on reporting, admin, set-up, and coaching capabilities — is also crucial, Furniss said. And if the CCaaS migration includes quality management and workforce management capabilities, it will require additional training, he added.
 
A Multi-part Approach to Training
Beyond the logistics, those responsible for training users on a new system or functionality need to provide a variety of different ways for agents to learn about the new system.
 
“Training is the sharing of information and knowledge in a manner that instructs the trainee. Learning is the process of absorbing that information in order to make use of it under a variety of contexts,” Furniss said. “Absorbing the information for future use requires a concerted plan to engage, inform, and confirm learning. Knowledge management also plays a critical part — allowing agents to find answers in real-time.”
 
To do this, Furniss recommends a multi-part training and learning program where users are prepared for the change, then onboarded, and finally, provided resources to re-learn throughout the CCaaS implementation process. He recommends contact center organizations follow this training cycle:
  • Readiness training: In this type of training, users learn why the enterprise is making the change and the benefits that contact center agents will see.
  • Onboarding training: This training provides agents with a system demo and an agent and a customer view (if it's a digital channel). Additionally, trainers will share step-by-step instructions for basic use, discuss some less used functionally, and what to do when the system doesn't work as intended.
  • Ongoing training: Three or so days after the go-live date of the new system, agents should be brought back into a training session, so they can have any questions answered.
  • Circular training: When there is a system update or functionality change, users would repeat this cycle of training again. Some updates can be explained in written instructions or short videos, but large-scale updates should follow this multi-step training process, Furniss noted.
  • Knowledge management: Building a strong knowledge management support structure allows for trainers to also teach agents where to find the answer, versus seeking to learn the answer or process.
Additionally, contact center leaders have multiple ways of making the training itself stick, Furniss said. For example, if an enterprise has a training organization that lets agents test what they learn in the system, "there is a higher propensity to understand how the applications work," he said. Other ways to make training stick are with gamification (like through leaderboards) and running test scenarios. From his experience, Furniss found that it's also important to have experts knowledgeable about the new system to provide "walk-around" or "digital swarm" support during the go-live date, so questions and issues can be resolved as they occur.
 
It’s important also not to throw so much information at agents that they feel overwhelmed, Swartz noted. "I’ve found that it’s easy to overwhelm agents with too much change at once. It’s far better to add capabilities in phases and let the users adapt to smaller changes over time,” Swartz said. “A change management strategy is needed to support this approach and provide the framework for communication and feedback,” she added. 
 
Leadership Makes It Happen
Like making any technology change in today’s enterprise, the best recipe for success is to ensure that all the stakeholders have a seat at the table and understand the purpose of the change. In this case, “it's really important" for IT and contact center leaders to work together on a larger change management strategy for a new CCaaS system, Swartz said.
 
Not only is it important to get IT and contact center leadership involved, but executive support is also crucial to ensure that the change is much more likely to take root, Swartz said. "Without [executive support], users often feel that making the change is optional, and they can delay or push back without consequences."
 
Similarly, Furniss noted the importance of having "a tight, coordinated relationship" between the contact center managers (the business stakeholders) and their IT counterparts. Everyone involved with migration must also have clearly defined goals and a definition of what a successful migration will look like, he added. In addition to tackling the basics of how agents and customers communicate with one another, "there needs to be clear plans for success around things like security, infrastructure, and network access/availability," Furniss said.
 
Success CCaaS Training = A Successful Migration
Any technology migration comes with its unique set of challenges and business obstacles. For a contact center migration, user adoption of the new platform is absolutely essential. To recap the insight Furniss and Swartz shared, when enterprises are looking to educate their users on a new CCaaS platform, they need to:
 
  • Figure out the logistics and timing of training: Given that many contact center agents are now working remotely or in a hybrid fashion, extra care and attention need to be placed on finding time to train users on a new platform. Contact center organizations need to find time to take agents off calls in a way that doesn’t impact CX.
  • Ensure go-live support: On the go-live date, experts with knowledge of the new system should be available to provide support either in-person or virtually. This will help iron out any issues that might arise when switching over to a new platform.
  • Design opportunities for agents to re-learn: As Swartz pointed out, the goal of training isn’t to throw so much at agents that they become overwhelmed. Just as incremental learning can be helpful, taking time to provide training and education after the go-live date can make users of the new system feel more comfortable.
On top of these key takeaways, enterprise leadership across departments will be crucial to ensuring that the migration is an overall success. As we’ve seen over the last several years, contact center purchase decisions have become more complicated, as leaders across different departments in the enterprise weigh in on what they would like to see in the new platform. Beyond the purchase decision itself, this cross-department collaboration is also seen on the other side of that decision-making — in the implementation and ongoing support of a new platform.

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