COVID-19 Drives Advent of Virtual ‘Blended’ Training

Over the past year, COVID-19 has disrupted contact center operations as many state and local public services agencies were forced to move to a virtual format, which altered the workplace, the workforce, and the training models used for each of their health and human services programs.  

While virtual contact centers are an undeniable necessity, there are challenges involved when adopting and implementing this format for contact center operations. It’s often difficult to quickly ramp up contact center operations to meet increased call volumes, especially when representatives must work in unfamiliar, or home-based settings. There are also challenges involved in properly securing contact center operations, and in onboarding and training service representatives.  

In many cases, what works well in a more traditional instructor-led training (ILT) environment doesn’t necessarily translate to effective remote training. Some inherent virtual training challenges include: establishing a human connection; long and -draining Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) programs; and personalizing training to meet each individual’s needs. 

 

Why invest in training now? 

The sudden shift from working in offices to working remotely or working from home has had a clear impact on contact center representative performance. To effectively continue serving constituents, agencies had to quickly ramp up new skills, add coaches, and find new ways to better support their workforce during an unprecedented crisis. Our agency clients needed a highly interactive, consultative, and well-structured training model.  

For most state agencies, the pandemic has inspired creativity as they work to adapt and reinvent the contact center workplace. With the shift to remote work, Conduent has partnered with agencies to offer insight into training new staff outside of a classroom setting. Conduent has also built a ‘community of trainers’ within its Eligibility and Enrollment business unit. Through a technology-infused, virtual blended training program, state agencies can drive better training outcomes and maintain productivity, to help deliver high levels of personalized customer experiences. To map out a strategy, plan and timeline for three state agency partners (Kentucky CHFS, New Jersey HBC, and Arizona Eligibility), the Conduent team reviewed and modified its existing new hire curriculums to meet the needs of new virtual contact center trainees.  

With this new approach, state agencies have been able to respond better to the shift to a remote working environment and work quickly to meet unexpected increases in call volumes. Through effective virtual training and change management, agencies gain the ability to keep up with social service demands during times of crisis.  

 

A Blended Learning Model 

Our blended learning model combines self-paced learning of program-specific materials with focused online instructor interaction, to shift focus to more individualized mentoring and away from traditional lecturing. With this approach, leaders can meaningfully interact and improve the performance of contact center reps. Newly hired trainees gain Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), online eLearning, and hands-on programmatic training. The tools used to support this type of blended training initiative include our Learning Management System (LMS), Microsoft® Teams, and our telephony solution, which supports call monitoring and quality control. 

We have helped state agencies to meet the challenges and move their workforce forward through: 

  • A flexible model for new hire training: using a blended learning methodology that includes Conduent’s LMS for self-directed and self-paced learning, Microsoft® Teams to provide regular touchpoints, knowledge and retention checks, and focus group feedback loops. 
  • Enhanced learning experiences: via lessons and knowledge retention testing, along with gamification aspects available in our LMS, state agencies can enhance each trainee’s learning experience. 
  • Fast-track course curriculum: to help meet fast-moving requirements in each state, we have developed new learning strategies, tools, and platforms to influence, build, and connect hiring staff. 

To learn more about how Conduent can help you implement virtual and responsive contact centers, please reach out to us at eligibilityenrollment@conduent.com

About the Author

Carla Salario

Carla Salario is Director of Client Solutions, Government Payment and Eligibility Solutions, Conduent

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