3-Real-world elearning challenge: Improve call center customer satisfaction

PART 3 of 4: What Do You Want Learners to DO?

Here’s a quick recap of the first two parts of this ‘Challenge’ blog series:

1. THE CHALLENGE: The company has received low grades from their clients for responsiveness to callers whose calls should be escalated. Call center reps aren’t escalating calls to supervisors at the appropriate times. (Read the full first post)

2. THE BUSINESS GOAL WE CRAFTED: Increase satisfaction ratings from 67% in 2018 to 90% in 2019, by maintaining an escalation ratio of 40% of all calls (+/- 2%), with at least 95% of escalated calls meeting escalation criteria. (Read the full second post)

In this third post, we’ll look at what learners need to be able to do in order to achieve the business goal.

Knowing vs. Doing
Identifying the real-world actions learners need to perform can be like pulling teeth, because clients (whether external or internal) will answer many of your questions with what learners need to know. Sure, sometimes people do need information, but to demonstrate how unlikely it is that knowing alone will help them achieve their business goal, imagine this conversation with your client:

You: What do people need to be able to do to meet fire safety requirements?
Client: They need to know the 4 steps of using a fire extinguisher.
You: Ok. So if there were a fire, they should be able to recite the 4 steps?
Client: Of course not! They should put the fire out!
You: Ok. And if they manage to put the fire out without using the 4 steps, should they light another fire and then put it out correctly?
Client: There is another meaning to the word “fire,” you know.

The 4 steps of using a fire extinguisher is information that people might need to know in order to be able to put out a fire. You will probably need to include this information in the activity you design to help learners practicing putting out fires, but you don’t yet know exactly how. You’ll get to that a little later. For now, your job is to continue eliciting all the actions that people need to take to reach the business goal.

What Do Learners Need to Do?
Let’s look at a few examples of actions:

Business Goal Actions
Wait staff will increase wine spending per customer by 20% in 2016 vs 2015 Wait staff should be able to:

  • Ask presumptive questions to encourage customers to order wine (e.g., “Which wine would you like?” vs “Would you like some wine?”)
  • Recommend food-wine pairings, using our proprietary wine selection tool
  • Suggest a bottle whenever at least two diners at the table order a glass
  • Arrange for samples of recommended wines
The shipping dep’t. should increase on-time shipping of small parts by 25% over the next year Inventory pickers should be able to:

  • Use the real-time inventory tool to identify whether the parts are in stock
  • Notify the customer of any out-of-stock items, within one hour of receiving the order in the system

The shipping dep’t. should be able to:

  • Ship all in-stock parts the same day the order was received
  • Send the out-of-stock report to Purchasing daily
Decrease the number of bio-hazard incidents involving clothing and protective gear within the next year Lab workers should be able to:

  • Record their entry and exit into bio-hazard labs
  • Choose the appropriate clean-off room when leaving their labs
  • Use the correct sequence of steps to disrobe, sanitize, and dispose of bio-hazard objects

It’s crucial to get input from your SMEs at this stage, especially if there is an opportunity to interview—or better yet, observe—high performers of the tasks you have identified. For example, the restaurant in the example above could determine which server sells the most wine, and discreetly listen in on their conversations with customers. They might discover that even though they have a proprietary tool that suggests wine-food pairings, the most successful servers don’t use the tool – they ask specific questions and arrange for samples.

For our financial services company, we worked with SMEs, and CSRs to generate the following list of actions that CSRs had to take to achieve the above goal:

  • Identify the escalation triggers of spoken words, tone of voice, and/or situation
  • Research the caller’s history to see if they have called previously about the situation
  • Listen empathetically and ask follow-up questions to gain clarifying information
  • Take notes that will be helpful to the person to whom the call is escalated
  • Empathize, restate the issues, and set expectations with the caller
  • Finalize notes and escalate

Why Aren’t They Doing It?
At this point, it would be very tempting to (finally!) dive in and start designing learning activities. But there is one more important step to take first. We have to find out why people aren’t doing these things correctly already, because sometimes all the training in the world won’t help.

For example, it wasn’t until we talked to CSRs without any managers present that we learned that some of them were afraid that they would get in trouble if they escalated too many calls. This concern was not unfounded. Some supervisors acted negatively toward CSRs who escalated calls, and worse—some were often not at their desks to answer escalated calls. Training the CSRs on the proper escalation process would not make one bit of difference unless the problems with supervisors were resolved.

For help determining if training really is the answer, check out this flowchart from Cathy Moore, or for a more in-depth read, Mager and Pipe’s best-seller Analyzing Performance Problems.

Next: Creating Learning Activities That Work
In our next and final blog post for this Design Challenge, we’ll choose several of the above actions, and start to develop some activity prototypes so that learners can practice what they need to do to perform the actions well.

Join the Conversation
Do you have any tips you’d like to share from your experiences working with SMEs, as you’ve pursued performance-based interventions? Please share in the comments below.


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