The importance of training your call centre staff

By now everyone in South Africa should know who David Gatebe is. He is the man that broke the Comrades Marathon record with a 5:18:19 finish. What a race! But it wasn’t easy … David started running ultra-marathons 11 years ago and had to train extensively and overcome adversity to become successful. Nobody wakes up one morning and is an expert in his or her field.

audi sport team

Now think about a world famous race of a different kind; the 24-hour Le Mans, one of motorsport’s greatest races. Think about the crews. There are not only drivers. There are managers, public relations officers, fuelers and tyre-changers, to name but a few. Now imagine that the only untrained person in the crew is the tyre-changers. Imagine how an untrained team member can undo all the great work and performance achieved by the rest of the team. Next, imaging how poorly the team will perform if all the crew members were untrained.

The rules of engagement in the debt collection industry are exactly the same: Every team member should be trained and their skills should be honed on an ongoing basis.

Here is a question: Will you hand your 9 year old son the keys to your BMW with your blessing to enjoy the weekend away? Probably not. The vehicle costs too much to leave it in the hands of an untrained and unskilled driver … even if that driver is your son.

Software training

Your software is no different. It costs you a good chunk of money and if you leave that in the hands of untrained staff, you will never exploit the software properly.

In the USA, it is accepted that experiences of frustration related to software regularly accounts for a waste of 42% of the time that employees spends at their computers. Similarly, the largest portion of those frustrations can be prevented by proper software training.

This illustrates how neglecting software training wastes an enormous amount of time and, at the same time, affects productivity.  Untrained staff members cannot unlock the benefits offered by the software and do not add value to the business.  Untrained staff members frustrate management and perform poorly. Software is often blamed for an unskilled employee’s poor performance while they are not equipped to use it.

The bottom line is that untrained staff adds to the expense line of a business while adding precious little to the income line.  Even though software- and industry training is incredibly important, it is often the most neglected part of a debt collection practice.

Training must be done. Not only because you are expected to do so for the good of staff members, but because you want to improve the profitability of your company.

The benefits proper software training

Training enables your staff to perform repetitive tasks with ease. It speeds up the delivery of the desired service and allows the user to initiate automated actions that can be performed in bulk.

Users are able to make use of the functionality on offer by the software and allows them to get the job done effectively and quickly.

Continuous training

However, it isn’t good enough to train your staff once and then to expect them to perform for the rest of their lives. Training needs to take place on an ongoing basis.

Even though your staff members may be skilled, upgrades to software demands a focus on retraining. Software updates often change system functionality dramatically and not pursuing a policy of retraining simply means that your staff gradually become more and more unskilled in the newer versions of the software.

On the job training of training courses

Many companies attempt to obviate the costs associated with training by training new staff internally. This works to some extent in situations where the company has an internal training division, but falls flat as soon as the trainers in that division fall behind as new functionality is made available in upgrades.

Internal training is only a solution if the trainers undergo continuous retraining.

Funding software training

There are two very easy ways of getting software training to pay for itself, namely:

  • BBBEE: If your training is supplied by a company with good BEE credentials, the money you spend with them will contribute invaluably to your own BEE score.
  • Skills Development Levies (SDL): All employers already pay SDL levies as part of their taxes, but very few reclaim the amounts that they would be entitled to if they supplied training to their staff. If an employer performs all the steps identified in the Skills Development Levies Act, it may be entitled to reclaim up to 90% of the SDL levies paid throughout the year. These amounts reclaims often cover the actual expenses related to the ongoing training.

    “Resistance is futile”
           – The Borg to Captain Picard in Star Trek

It makes financial sense to train and retrain your staff. It virtually pays for itself. In addition, you get a motivated workforce that has the skills to contribute to your bottom line.

Peter Rafferty, Chief Executive Officer, FutureSoft