Paying It Forward

15 December, 2022



Reaping the benefits of compounding interest of a continuing education program.

By Hugh Rumbaugh, Director of Digital Learning, Transparent BPO

A progressive-thinking contact center can offer digital courses online, provide classroom instruction, or choose to offer one-on-one instruction through job shadowing or mentoring opportunities. Furthermore, the courses can be prescriptive or purely elective.

– Hugh Rumbaugh

The benefits of ‘compound interest’ are commonplace. From our earliest high school accounting classes through advanced college courses, the value of ‘compound interest’ is drilled into our impressionable minds.

The theory underlying ‘compound interest’ is one of the foundations of finance – the interest earned on principal plus the interest earned earlier. Everyone who has launched their career shortly after graduation is always counseled by someone older and wiser to put away money every paycheck so the compound interest will help build your retirement nest egg.

Continuing education programs in your contact center are similar – it continues to build on your original investment. The benefit of continuing education is quantifiable in several ways, on and off the balance sheet. 

The first – and most obvious – is the value it offers to an employee’s career. A clear growth path for learning is directly proportional to that same employee’s path of employment. By offering an education path, you’re almost guaranteeing that you will retain that employee for the long term, saving on recruiting and training costs necessary to replace that person. Too often, modern contact centers rely on the old ‘rinse and repeat’ model where they churn hundreds, perhaps thousands of agents through barebones training – the minimum amount to do their job – fully expecting them to depart soon afterward. An ongoing training and education plan can be the rock that breaks this wave.

A well-documented training program serves as a career blueprint for a young agent by laying out their career path from entry-level agent to supervisor, to manager to middle management – and giving them the skills to achieve roles with increasing responsibilities.

A progressive-thinking contact center can offer digital courses online, provide classroom instruction, or choose to offer one-on-one instruction through job shadowing or mentoring opportunities. Furthermore, the courses can be prescriptive or purely elective.

These courses can stray from the strict contact center diet as well. Research has shown that employees pursue courses that move beyond the typical skills-based curriculum to offer courses agents can use outside of work. These courses range from financial planning to time management, personal health, or motivation to stress management. While continuing ed. helps develop better staff, it’s also important they become better people in the process.

A downstream benefit of implementing a continuing education program is the payback you’ll realize when you have to select new middle managers. You’ll be flush with trained and skilled leaders who are anxious to demonstrate their abilities. Your clients will also appreciate your ability to scale to meet the demands of their new engagement with you or grow as their program grows.

So, the compound interest of continuing education is a no-brainer for any contact center expecting to survive in today’s marketplace; however, you must have the mechanisms in place to make it work.

While the operation leaders in the contact center will see firsthand the value of continuing ed. – inspired agents, engaged supervisors, and exceptional middle managers – the organization’s executive ranks must lend their support as well. And by support, I don’t mean well-meaning talking points during employee town halls and roundtables when an executive says she values an education program dedicated to employees. The C-suite must be as engaged as the employees investing their free time to take the courses.

Executives need to take the long view by visualizing the programs running in all their facilities across all geographies, as well as giving managers who are implementing the education program the tools necessary to make an impact. Apart from this, they need to measure impact whether it’s through the Kirkpatrick model or against industry standards.

Executives also have to ensure that the right people are in the right roles to build an effective continuing education program. It begins by having the right trainers – those who meet new employees in their first few weeks at the contact center. These individuals inject a learning DNA into new employees, so they’ll know the value of continuing education at your contact center.

We’ve all heard stories of teachers who were able to change students’ lives—some of us may have even experienced having those teachers. These trainers can instill a hunger for advanced training and ensure every employee knows that their organization places a premium on individuals who commit themselves to a career path and benefit from the financial incentives associated with continued learning.

The final piece of the continuing ed. puzzle is money. The return on investment is a tangible and measurable metric that can add value to an organization’s bottom line. If senior leaders want an engaged workforce that benefits from a continuing education program, they must be willing to set aside the dollars to help make it happen, which can ensure they take the long view.      

After all, compound interest isn’t about timing, it’s about time.