Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Engaging and Entertaining your Learners

Our company recently reorganized. My department went from supporting one specific group of users, to a much broader group. One of the new groups I work with are the agents at our call centers. As anyone who as ever worked in a call center knows, this is a tough job. Generally speaking, customers don’t call a company (or a help desk) when things are going well. So you spend your work week fielding concerns, issues, instruct opportunities and the occasional venting via scream. I can tell you right now, I’m not sure I’d last a week. But the people in our call center? They’re wonderful- Funny and nice and excited and generally interested in the company, the product and the tools available to them.

Engagement for the call agents is really important. Sometimes it can feel a little bit like high school- bulletin boards, themed days, contests, baked goodies, giveaways.  Yeah, a little like high school, but worth it.  It's all to promote our strategy and reinforce the metrics they’re held to. We also hold very popular “Blitz” weeks. These are run similarly to a career fair. Experts on the particular topic are on hand to answer the agents’ questions, provide information and give insight into new products and initiatives.

This week marks the first blitz of the year, the “Ready…Set…GO!!” Blitz. This blitz introduces the agent to the metrics the call center is held to for the year and the tools we’re providing to help them reach these metrics. This slightly dry topic has been spruced up with a race theme. Each group of agents must complete the race track- stopping at each of the 6 pit stops. Each pit stop is manned by the subject matter expert for that topic. This puts a face to the metric, process or system, something the agents really like. Each SME has 5 minutes to get the important information to the agent. Kitchen timers sound after the time has run out forcing the SMEs to be succinct, clear and quick. Each pit stop has some sort of takeaway- generally a 1 page handout with the most important information and some sort of fun (we had race cars, Hershey kisses, our videos playing on an iPad and one of our team playing the Paparazzi).

At the end, the agent is directed to our LMS to complete a short, 6 question knowledge check based on what they just learned. Anyone who scores 100% is entered in a drawing to win one of our most popular products. I love this model. It’s fun, entertaining, informative and doesn’t waste anyone’s time. I really like that it pulls together many forms of training (instructor led, online, traditional handouts) and blends them together in a way that feels natural and easy, not forced.  I really enjoyed meeting my coworkers and sharing our department with them.

It’s difficult shifting my attitude from remote, online only training to this entertaining, engaging blended approach. The demographic of this group of learners is much different than the demographic of the focused, specific group we supported before. I think everyone we train can benefit from some version of this sort of training. Every employee, remote or onsite, wants to know that they’re worth the time and that they’re success is vital to the company.

What do you do to bring some entertainment and engagement into your training?

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