How to Train New Hires as Effectively as Time Warner Cable (Interview)

Written by Bloomfire Admin

Kevin Davis is the Training Delivery Manager for Time Warner Cable Corporate Learning, Development, and Inclusion. He manages the delivery of new hire and recursive training for their U.S. and international enterprise-level call centers. His team’s goal is to effectively deliver complex technical information to call center agents, while providing consistency across a diverse learner pool—ultimately creating a satisfying customer experience.

He can be contacted through LinkedIn or via email at kevin.davis (at) twcable.com.

Q. I’ve heard that call centers and high turnover are close cousins. Kevin, how does your team handle that?

Replacing attrition is a constant battle in a call center environment. In our industry, forecasting attrition becomes paramount. Once you understand trending behind it, you can then properly predict it and plan ahead.

Proactively on-boarding new employees to attack attrition before it happens will ensure that employees have enough time to be trained and certified, minimizing the dip in overall organizational performance. Of course, constant re-evaluation and updating of new hire training materials is crucial in managing that performance consistency.

Q. What are some “solutions” you’ve experienced? Wikis, mentoring programs, workshops, learning management systems? Have they been helpful? Not helpful?

In my career, I’ve been involved with many different solutions that you’ve mentioned. They certainly all have their advantages if they are used effectively. That’s really the key.

I’ve witnessed implementations of wikis and learning management systems that were put in place with good intentions, but failed due to a lack of dedicated focus. These tools can be very effective as long as they are maintained and marketed well throughout the organization.

Let’s face it, creating buy-in within your organization is very similar to internal marketing. You always want to engage your learners and have them crave knowledge, rather than forcing it on them. This is done historically through a “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?) at the beginning of a course, but it goes much further than that in today’s technology. When launching a wiki, presenting online courses, or announcing an upcoming workshop, creating a buzz is very important. But that’s step one. Keeping that energy up after the initial launch is what will make these solutions successful. After all, they are only as good as what you put into them!

Many organizations implement these programs with a big push and a sizeable project budget, but what happens when the launch is over and the resources are moved to the next big thing? What gets overlooked is that it takes time and money to keep these solutions up to date and at the forefront. The organizations that realize this reap the benefits of successful knowledge-sharing and create high return on investment.

Q. What role do social technologies play in knowledge-sharing? Have you heard of “online learning communities” proposed as a solution?

I think online learning communities can be very effective because they can be used to share knowledge indirectly.

Let me explain. When an online community is hosted within a company and used for knowledge-sharing within the organization, it can be used to connect employees that normally would not interact, but can benefit from each other’s knowledge and enrich each other’s jobs.

For example, before the advent of the online space for knowledge-sharing, a sales representative is presented with a question he/she can’t answer from a client. That sales agent’s first line of support might be to ask a sales colleague or manager, who may not have that information either. With an online community, that sales agent can present that question directly to a subject matter expert via a message board or blog post, i.e. the product team or warehouse, and that knowledge is now posted for all the rest of the sales team to benefit.

Q. With so many new solutions available, I feel like our industry is in a state of constant change. How can training professionals adapt?

Adapting to any changing environment can be very challenging, but if anyone can do it, I feel that the people in our industry are up for the challenge. I think training and development professionals inherently share the understanding that one of the keys to success in anyone’s career is constant learning. Technology changes constantly in all of our careers, regardless of your profession. The ability to adjust to it and embrace it is necessary to succeed.

For me, managing training delivery has changed from ILT-heavy programs, to simple online text and graphic e-courses, to robust flash and video-based productions. The training professional has evolved from a school teacher to a technical developer. Drastic evolutions such as this make us all eager to see what’s coming next!

Q. Me too! Kevin, thanks for making the time. To wrap up, could you recommend some resources to help our readers stay current?

I think it’s important for T&D readers to not only keep up on the training profession’s leading publications like T+D Magazine and Chief Learning Officer, but to also investigate and understand the non-training industries they serve.

For me, in a customer support industry, I’ve always been interested in methods to better deliver world class customer service. I have a soft spot for the proper treatment of the people that pay my bills! So I would recommend some of the customer service related books written by Ken Blanchard. His take on management is also good, and he’s recently crossed over into parenting. I think we can all understand how these three topics are related!

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