The key processes to make service employee training effective

Training is the most important factor behind higher service quality and customer experience. However, for training to be effective it must be designed and implemented well. In this blog post we share the essential four stage process to ensure service employee training effectiveness.

Service quality continues to be ranked as the most important driver for customer satisfaction. In fact, in approximately 70% of cases where a customer quits doing business with a partner company in any industry, the reason lies in a poor service delivery rather than the product or other operational procedures.

Training is the single most important driver for service quality and it is therefore one of the most important internal processes a company can have. The importance of training is not only related to improving the service management skills and the attitudes of individual employees to lift the overall service quality. Training also has other positive side effects including employee engagement and retention, improved productivity and Customer Experience.

Processes which make training effective

The overall purpose of training is to meet the operational standards but also to improve employee engagement and performance levels. And for training to be effective, it must have a clear and measureable purpose and goal as well as be implemented with care. This is illustrated by the four stage process shown below.

Effective training of service employees

 1. Analysing strategic training needs

An analysis of needs may be conducted by interviewing line managers, frontline service employees or customers. Observing the behaviour of frontline employees and on that basis performing a gap analysis is also a good alternative. To best optimize the value of the program, it is important to align these needs with the organization’s strategic goals.

2. Design and development of training program

Once the needs have been identified, measurable objectives can be set. These should include desired behavioral changes as well as the desired organizational impact. Once these are in place, the training program can be designed and developed.

3. Delivery and implementation of training program

The delivery of the training program is more than just employees attending a course. Effective training includes pre-training motivation for the course, a follow-up process with feedback on behavioral changes, involvement of customers and line managers in anchoring the training, and identification and removal of barriers to implementation of new behavior. The elements which are outside the actual course itself are more than 60 per cent of the success of any training program.

4. Measure and evaluate training outcomes

Measuring, tracking and evaluating the training program are key components in effective training program. To start off with, collecting base-line data before the beginning of the training is a necessity. Let’s imagine the objective of the training is to get helpdesk request accuracy to 90 percent. To measure the improvement, you need to know which metrics to measure and what the current level is versus the after-training level. As part of an evaluation, you can then ask questions such as: Was the training effective? Did it change the behavior, improve the service value or any of the other strategic needs it intended? Which parts of the training were effective, and which were not?

Evaluating the training effectiveness

It is only possible to assess the effectiveness of a training program through proper evaluation. While most service providers say they evaluate and show processes, which include this, the reality is that most service providers do not execute on this step very well.

Evaluation of training can be conducted in many ways, but only a few of them are relevant and contribute to effective training. Our graphic below illustrate the five dimensions of training evaluation:

Service employee training evaluation

These five levels of training evaluation should be understood quite literally. Whereas level 5 is the most effective way of evaluating a training program, level 1 is considered to be the least effective way, but also the most common way, of evaluating any training program.

Level 1 – Satisfaction:

The most basic, yet least effective level of evaluation, is to simply ask the training attendees whether or not they liked the training program. Typically, such study is conducted through written surveys, which are handed out right after the course where the participants are encouraged to write comments. The survey will often hold questions with regard to the form of the training, instructors, presentations and learning environment.

In the meantime, the problem with such surveys is that studies have shown that the correlation between satisfaction and learning is very close to zero. Sadly, most training programs are evaluated using satisfaction surveys.

Level 2 – Measure learning:

At this level the purpose is to examine if the employee has learned something based on the material. To find out, oral, written or role-playing examinations are often conducted. The test should be measured based on quantitative methods that are compared before and after the training.

Level 3 – Behaviour:

In terms of behaviour, it is evaluated if the employees actually use and apply the knowledge they have gained during the training program. Even though training is about changing behaviour, studies show that only 15-20 percent of people attending a course subsequently change any behaviour.  Five requirements must be met before changes in behaviour will occur: 1) Desire to change, 2) knowledge of what to do and how to do it, 3) the right job climate, 4) help in applying what was learned during training and 5) reward for changing behaviour.

Level 4 – Organizational Performance:

Based on the premise that the objective of the majority of training programmes is to meet operational standards, improve employee engagement or performance levels, it is relevant to evaluate the training programme against these desired organizational results. The data collected at this level may be a combination of interviews and data available from internal databases.

Level 5 – ROI:

The final level evaluates whether the training programme was worth the investment. Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) is a simple but effective way to answer this question. Is the benefit more worth than the initial investment?

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