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Call center training budget

What percentage of a call center budget should go to training? My budget was cut significantly this year and I need to train a number of new agents – I'm not sure what's standard for training.

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The percentage of your budget that should be spent on training depends on a number of factors. Generally, agents benefit from participating in:

    1. New hire training – generally lasts two to six weeks, depending upon the organization.
    2. Up-training – generally one hour per week and minimally one hour every other week. This time is used to retrain agents on issues identified during the quality assurance process or to teach agents about new products, services, systems or procedures.

There are many other training programs that can greatly benefit agents, such as:

    1. Communications training – teaches agents techniques for handling challenging customers.
    2. Time management training – assists agents in multi-tasking and managing their time effectively.
    3. Systems training – increases agents' knowledge of your systems.

While the numbers can vary greatly, the training budget for a relatively stable shop (one that is not in the midst of an acquisition or major system enhancements) is generally 3% to 5%. With today's ongoing corporate cost control pressures, it is tempting to slash your training budget, as it may be viewed as "non-productive." This is a mistake. The right training courses yield more productive agents who will also deliver a better customer experience. In my experience, I have found that well-designed training programs are one of the highest return investments you can make. To justify training investments and obtain management approval, I've studied a number of programs and calculated a rapid ROI of six to nine months.

The best way to determine your training budget is to identify the number of hours of training each agent requires on an annual basis and the time and cost needed to develop and deliver the courses. You can then determine what percentage of your budget this represents.

This was first published in August 2006

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