Situation / Task
It was taking too long for International Sales Reps to get trained and productive once they were hired. Our task was to drastically reduce the time from new hire to productivity. (Improve Speed to Productivity) and improve agent performance. At 6 weeks of classroom training, International Call Center Agent Training was taking too long. And since agents in training did not begin taking live phone calls until the third week of class, it was difficult for instructors to accurately forecast agent performance. Our tasks were to:
- Improve agent performance. (Build Quality into the Process)
- Lower the time from hiring to productivity
- Accomplish this at a lower cost than the as-is process
New reps had little time for “side by side” training with experienced call center reps and instructors. The length of the training also constrained the company’s ability to take calls and earn revenue in the international marketplace. The long lead time before getting on the phones also frustrated students, the instructors, and seasoned reps who were having to coach and mentor new reps, even after 6 weeks of training.
Our mission was to, “train people faster and ensure that they perform at a high level faster.” Here is what we did.
- Constructed a Value Stream Map of the International Call Center Agent Training Curriculum. We focused on tasks that the agents performed daily, addressing all other training requirements with on the job training.
- Implemented “Performance Impact Mapping”, establishing specific and structural links between training content and measurable skills and abilities. Once we knew which parts of the training curriculum were “high value” skills, we did the following.
- Adapted Rapid Application Design/Development (RAD) and Joint Application Design/Development (JAD) concepts to Instructional Systems Design. We customized this process to help us rapidly iterate through our process in a way that fit into Delta’s Call Center training operation.
As a result of this initiative:
- International Call Center Representative Training was reduced from 6 weeks of classroom training to 11 days.
- The client elected to spread the classroom content over 3 weeks and dramatically increasing the amount of “”side by side”” on the job training with instructors.
- The mentor role was formalized, leveraging the talent of experienced call center reps.
- Reps in training began taking their first call on the 7th day of training, rather than in the 3 weeks. This happened during a “”side by side”” exercise with a mentor or an instructor.
- Students, instructors, and mentors provided positive reports to the changes made to the program.
While this project did not result in a larger ROI from the Lean Six Sigma standpoint, it did improve speed (time from hiring to productivity). It improved performance, (based on the comments from instructors and mentors). And it improved the learning experience, (based on surveys completed for the class before and after the improvements.) As a result of this initiative, the Call Center Learning and Development Team adopted Performance Impact Mapping and RAD for ISD as their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).