SIGNIFICANCE OF TRAINING IN THE OUTSOURCING INDUSTRY
The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is evolving rapidly and it continues to generate a large number of job opportunities both on- and offshore. During the economic slowdown, customer retention assumes even higher significance and to achieve that, customer experience management becomes a key driver. In the real-world business ecosystem, the focus today is not only on getting new customers but also ensuring their retention and loyalty. This, in turn, requires best-in-class training for all customer-facing staff to connect with customers at an emotional level.
Outsourcing service providers are experimenting with numerous training models to enhance the knowledge/skill sets of their associates. There is linear training, blended training, the brick-and-click model, and even experiential training models that are being tried out. Programs are being designed to integrate NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transaction Analysis and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to deliver product, process and soft-skills training. They help outsourcing service providers to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their resources, to understand their unique personalities and then work on finding the appropriate mix of knowledge, skill and attitude components to relate to customers and the domain that they serve. Most providers are investing significantly in training on behalf of their outsourcers to help them achieve their business goals.
Having said that, today, outsourced workers—even in a single training batch—are a blend of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. Considering the fact that our Gen Y (or Millennials) take to things differently from Gen X and the Baby Boomers, it becomes important to acknowledge and understand the unique strengths and weaknesses of each generation and understand the points of friction. Each generation seems to be more resourceful and better equipped to multi-task than the previous generation. The fun begins when a contact center employee of each generation is expected to “connect” with customers from all generations. This requires training solution designers to up their expertise to an entirely new level, which ultimately tests their innovation and creativity.
UNDERSTANDING MINDSETS: BABY BOOMERS, GEN X AND GEN Y
I believe that Millennials bring with them a whole new set of expectations as well as skills. With this also comes the challenge of how to better enable these expectations. They are fresh out of college, and are social media and tech savvy. They are comfortable with being judged by their work deliverables, but do not like to be micro-managed on how they get work done. They collaborate well on social networks.
||The Demographic Divide
For example, in a contact center training environment, new Gen Y recruits often express to me the feeling that they are “suddenly” being force-fed many things to comprehend and to apply to tasks. They are expected to change behavioral patterns and adapt to different ways of speaking, reacting, etc. All this change is packed into 15-20 days of training, after which they are expected to create magic on the floor! When they reach the production floor, they are underequipped to deal with customers professionally from other generations. It’s even amusing to see “SMS English” used in emails. However, from a customer’s perspective, this can create dissonance and become a communication barrier. To enable “integration”, we must understand the generational differences and values that drive today’s Millennials.
Gen X, while fairly tech savvy, is also pragmatic and proficient about learning. They learn on the job, but are more knowledge centric than application centric. They believe in family time and are thus less willing to work post scheduled work hours.
Today, Baby Boomers inhabit the most powerful positions across industries. They hold, maintain and “manage” much of the business, institutional and political knowledge in the workplace. Their extensive experience coupled with industry connections and networks enable them to get things done. Those who are successful have been able to learn from their failures.
It is extremely important for training enablement functions at outsourcing services organizations to understand these nuances and tweak training methodologies to differently enable our human resources. We need to ensure that to achieve business results, we turn out resources across generations who are well equipped to handle pressure and at the same time deal with customers irrespective of their generational conditioning.
MOTIVATE YOUR EMPLOYEES: CREATE EFFECTIVE TRAINING TECHNIQUES!
As a client, due to all the above distinctions required in approaches, learning and comprehension to equip all associates equally, you must leverage training as a retention tool and create a smarter, more productive workforce:
- Explore ways to create flexible training solutions to deal with the need for differential training durations, as some people may need more time to adapt than others.
- Ensure your internal training delivery methods are attuned to dealing with the various generations.
- Enhance your ability to stay in line with advances in technology.
- Update methodologies constantly to ensure that you stay current on changing processes, techniques, methods etc.
In my view, the generation divide is making conventional adult learning methods less effective. Outsourcers and providers must try to rectify the situation with analysis and craft a comprehensive approach to address all dimensions.
In the post-recession economy with global competition to boot, corporations are driving high levels of customer service as key business objectives and differentiators. Efficient workforce management and training are rapidly becoming essential for all organizations. Better trained employees develop and bring higher degrees of confidence, dignity and security to their customers during interaction. This in turn increases their effectiveness, and hence productivity in achieving the organization’s business goals, while retaining customer loyalty.
While our trained and experienced managers or learning domain specialists understand the operational and business requirements completely, do they necessarily understand the psyche of their human resources to provide the right training? Share your experiences in training Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers!