ENABLE BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE: SENSITIZE YOUR RESOURCE!
The IT enabled services (ITeS) sector, also referred to as the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, has grown rapidly over the years. Driven by technology and manpower, BPO services have helped businesses globally to reduce costs and improve service standards. The growth of the outsourcing industry has presented huge opportunities to local populations across the globe and improved the standard of living of its huge employee base.
While standardized IT platforms form the ITES industry’s backbone, the success or failure of outsourced client processes—right from the transition phase—is dependent on the effectiveness of knowledge transfer and our preparedness to demonstrate skill intensive performance. This is because new associates, who are fresh out of school or college, often get into processes with limited or no familiarity with the industry or domain that they serve. With the need for large scale induction of new resources month on month, we end up moving people “from the street to the seat”. Therefore, we should now perhaps coin the term Training Enabled Services (TES) to emphasize the significant and business-critical role that training plays in the success of an outsourcing client and its service provider!
TRAINING AS AN ENABLER OF ENTRY LEVEL EMPLOYEES
To cope with the BPO industry’s massive requirement of entry level employees, appropriate training plays a pivotal role. The duration of training, training content, and method required for adult learners to deal with the knowledge and skill requirements makes it absolutely unique. In most cases, employees entering the BPO space in emerging markets have either no (or very limited) exposure to the demands of the BPO business. The required exposure could be in terms of life style and mindset changes required, familiarity with the geography served, as well as new industry domains and processes.
A well thought out training solution should provide the right mix of knowledge, skills and attitude required for these employees to become successful from the early stages of their “BPO career”.
No matter how robust the technology and infrastructure backbone is, unless these key resources are able to connect with their end customers well, provide them with the right resolutions within a limited timeframe, and generate customer satisfaction, the growth of the BPO industry can be severely impaired. The training function, therefore, has become a key enabler for BPO—sensitizing employees on soft skills, including accent, culture, product and process knowledge.
TRAINING AS AN ENABLER OF SUPERVISORY STAFF
In a typical BPO service provider organization, along with growth of the entry level employee base, there is a proportionate increase in demand for supervisory staff (team leaders, team managers, etc.) With a typical span of 15 to 20 team members, this group probably manages the maximum number of human resources compared to many other seasoned managerial level professional in other organizations.
So how do you get associates ready for such a critical role within a year or two of them entering the job market themselves? In my view, this probably is the single most important driver of the high level of attrition seen in the BPO industry in emerging countries.
Apart from ensuring top notch performance on all parameters, measured almost by the minute, supervisors are expected to manage the performance and emotional anxieties of a team of relatively inexperienced associates. There really is little choice for our industry where for every 15-20 additional associates a new supervisory job is created! Again our training becomes the real enabler for this critical group. Therefore, the only way to deal with such a demand-supply situation is to prepare new leaders with the right dose of functional knowledge and managerial skills. With the BPO industry now rapidly expanding to tier 2 and tier 3 locations with robust network connectivity, it’s time for effective training to become the true and real enabler now!
TRAINING AS AN ENABLER FOR SPECIALIZED FUNCTIONS
Any enabling function in the BPO industry (e.g., recruitment, HR, admin and transport, etc.) has become super-specialized today. A BPO recruitment team is expected to hire in the thousands each month compared to in tens in conventional industries.
The HR function has to continuously align its strategies to appeal to the young and dynamic knowledge workers in this high attrition industry. Most conventional HR practices will hardly make any impact on the modern BPO workforce, whose priorities are way different from their earlier counterparts.
The transport function sometimes runs 20-30 shifts per day compared to the conventional 2-3 shift model adopted by most of the non-BPO industries.
So, where do we get these super specialists from? For all these functions to make a difference, appropriate training and industry orientation is the biggest practical differentiator and enabler.
||Training Enabled Services (TES): Drives Business Results
DRIVE BUSINESS RESULTS: TRAINING IS CORE BUSINESS STRATEGY!
Irrespective of the technology and infrastructure that you have implemented, unless your resources are enabled with the right kind of orientation and training at all stages, they won’t appreciate the realities of your business environment. Hence, we need to focus on those aspects that genuinely push training as an enabler of outsourcing business results.
In summary, to ensure optimum effectiveness of human resources in the outsourcing industry, we have to identify and change our training methods at all levels. The techniques needed to shift from knowledge centric (where importance is placed on memorizing and reproducing learnt material) to application centric (where required knowledge is applied to a situation that you are faced with). These techniques should also be adopted by schools to bridge present day gaps and make the prospective employees job ready within a shorter span of time.
The quality of customer service depends on how BPO employees at various levels are trained to apply the knowledge that has been imparted to them. As industry specifications change, business processes need to transform and training also needs to be updated. To successfully engage your customers and provide excellent service, it is important to link training with your business strategy. Without best-in-class training, it is quite impossible to derive excellent business results.
What is your take on training being the heart of an organization? Could you share a couple of training techniques implemented by you in your organization that have proved to be effective?