COVID-19 Pandemic

Pandemic Response Accelerates Growth of Virtual Blended Training

By Carla Salario    July 14, 2021


In the last 18 months, COVID-19 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 by all types of 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 involve 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?

The sudden shift from working in offices to working remotely or working from home in 2020 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 workers during an unprecedented crisis. We found that our government 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 partnered with agencies to offer insight into training new staff members outside of a classroom setting. The company 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), Conduent’s team reviewed and modified its existing new hire curriculums to meet the needs of new virtual contact center trainees.

  • Total call volume handled from March 2020 to March 2021 – 3.77 million
  • Total staff trained from March 2020 to March 2021 – 864, along with an additional 673 staff members who completed upskill training

Using the virtual blended training approach, state agencies have been able to better respond to the shift to a remote working environment and work quickly to meet unexpected call volume increases. Through effective virtual training and change management, our agency clients gained the ability to keep up with social service demands during times of crisis.

Meeting Virtual Blended Training Demands

The blended learning model combines self-paced learning of program-specific materials with focused online instructor interaction, to provide individualized mentoring, and move away from traditional lecturing. With this approach, instructors meaningfully interact and improve the performance of contact center representatives. Newly hired trainees gain Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), online eLearning, and hands-on programmatic training. The tools used to support virtual blended training include Conduent’s Learning Management System (LMS), Microsoft® Teams, and telephony solution that supports call monitoring and quality control.

State agencies have been successfully implementing the virtual blended training program, achieving the following:

  • A flexible model for new hire training — using a blended learning methodology that includes 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 available in our LMS, to help state agencies enhance each trainee’s learning experience.
  • Fast-track course curriculum — to help meet fast-moving state agency requirements, Conduent developed learning strategies, tools, and platforms to influence, build, and connect hiring staff.

While investing in the right technology and a robust LMS is essential to the success of virtual training programs, interactive engagement, collaboration, and seamless communication are also important in virtual training programs. It takes the right blend of people, process and technology to help agencies achieve better outcomes in virtual environments.

To learn more about how Conduent can help agencies optimize contact centers, please reach out to us at eligibilityenrollment@conduent.com.

About the Author

Carla Salario

Director of Client Solutions, Government Solutions
Conduent


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