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Case Study: Private and Public Organizations Turn to Outsourcing for Training

Two very different organizations experience similar results with an outsourced training program.

by Andrea Turner, Director, Customer Advocate, The Training Associates

As the federal agency responsible for administering Medicare—the largest health insurance program in the U.S.—the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees the care of more than 40 million Americans. To assist beneficiaries, family members, and caregivers, CMS provides a nationwide toll-free call center.

The helpline must provide complete, accurate, and consistent responses to inquiries involving complex and dynamically changing issues. It also must respond effectively to large fluctuations—both expected and unexpected—in call volumes. To handle shifting volumes, CMS sought to implement a virtual call center strategy to provide a flexible, scalable infrastructure to support the consolidation of Medicare telephone customer-service operations.

This problem required large-scale resources. A global training solution provider with sales of $7.2 billion that was contracted for the overhaul outsourced much of the task to The Training Associates (TTA). The project included the recruiting, managing, and deploying of trainers to CMS call centers throughout the U.S., training hundreds of customer service reps answering the newly implemented Medicare line for seniors.

TTA is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of trainers for IT and so-called soft skills. It focuses on delivering high-quality trainers for a variety of industries using different applications. Clients include corporate buyers to resellers to education and government.

TTA was responsible for recruiting, screening, qualifying, negotiating, scheduling, reporting, quality control, and billing for this ongoing project. There were more than 120 interested, available, and qualified candidates. Forty-five trainers deployed on this five-year contract were responsible for delivering topics such as new-hire training, customer service, and small-systems training.

The results of CMS’ efforts is a new helpline providing responsible and efficient service to consumers. Staffed by well-trained operations and customer service personnel, the helpline is better able to focus on delivering timely, important healthcare information to consumers and service providers in a growing segment.

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In another instance, a large retailer faced problems often found in today’s high-volume consumer business: slow credit card processing, cumbersome transaction processing, and delayed checkout and customer service. The chain didn’t know who its best customers were and didn’t have a good handle on asset management. Profits were weakening, and the future was not promising. It decided to turn to outsourcing to cure its woes.

Solutions to its problems were outlined, including the need for faster results at every POS system in more than a thousand locations across the country. Conversion to the new systems was needed almost simultaneously. And store personnel had to be trained quickly and thoroughly throughout the chain.

Furthermore, because stores were to be converted back-to-back, training had to closely match the pattern so the new technology could be leveraged as soon as possible. The retailer also required the costs to be standardized from one store to another.

The solution was to use a combination of hardware, software, and training specialists to tackle each phase of the problem. Converting to new, computerized transaction processing systems based on Windows NT would partially solve the problems. Training was a challenge by itself, demanding national coordination and carefully planned implementation.

TTA put together a structured field organization capable of handling the task. A project manager recruited and hired six project leaders, a dedicated scheduler, and 35 instructors. All were capable of delivering quality training, but more needed to be done to prepare them for this assignment.

Each instructor candidate had to attend a one-day class to prepare for the project. They then attended a three-day certification course, in which they were asked to review the retailer’s marketing kit, video, and computer-based training materials (CBT).

After completing the certification class, each instructor was paired with a project leader, and the scheduler set up the new instructor’s first event. At that event and those that followed, the instructor spent a day and a half training each store’s staff, ensuring that employees understood the new POS system and felt comfortable using its new features and functions.

The results were predictable. Staff efficiencies improved dramatically. A lease arrangement lowered technology costs, and stores followed up with key customers. Healthier profits resumed. The retailer had control over all POS transaction processes. Individual stores as well as the retailer were now positioned for future growth.

Tags: Engaged Workforce, Learning

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