Overview of Training
A candidate who is successful in the above process is hired by the BPO firm and starts the training process. From this point onwards, the candidate is referred to as an “agent.” The various stages of the training process are discussed below.
Soft-skills training is the first stage of an agent’s training program. It is required to be taken by every newly-hired agent in the BPO firm who is to handle a customer’s telephone call on the operations floor. Soft skills includes voice and accent training, customer handling, geographical and cultural issues.
Pre-process training begins after the agent completes the soft-skills training successfully. This is for agents who are selected to provide technical-support for a particular product, and they receive introductory training in general software, hardware and networking concepts.
Product, Process and Help-desk Training
After successfully completing the appropriate pre-process training, the agent undergoes (technical) product training, (office/productivity) process training or help-desk training. An example of “product” is the Microsoft Exchange Server. Examples of “processes” would be Microsoft Office or Mail-related processes – pertaining to the day-to-day usage of a set of applications and products. Process training would therefore include topics such as: “How to use a tool,” “How to trouble-shoot a problem,” and “How to document the case when a customer calls.” Process training would also cover policies and procedures relating to customer-relationships.
Going “live.” OR Transition Period
Once the appropriate training programs are completed, the agent is given a User Acceptance Test (UAT). The UAT is conducted for each agent in the presence of his/her trainer, a member of the Operations team (i.e. the “user” of the agent), a quality specialist, and a soft-skills coach. The agent is made to go through a mock call, after which the trainer either certifies that the agent is ready to move to the operations floor, or that he/she needs more training or mentoring. A successful agent is ready to “go live” at this point.
Each of the above reflects a different stage in the training process. In a typical situation, a newly hired agent will undergo various types of training for 3 to 10 weeks after the hiring date.