A global telecommunications provider thought that a rigorous new training exam would result in new employees who would provide exceptional service from day one. Instead of seeing the expected increases to customer satisfaction, the company saw increased failure rates and a 28 percent attrition rate from new employees — which brought the company’s overall attrition up to 55 percent. With nearly one out of every three new hires leaving the company, the company was wasting money — and losing customers. Failure rates were so high that training classes were not turning out enough new associates to meet the needs of customers — and revenue was suffering as a result.
Our Talent Optimization professionals had two primary goals: increase the number of associates who passed the exam, and reduce the attrition rate. Analysis of the problem showed that the difficulty of the exam itself was compounded by a lack of support for those who needed additional assistance. Trainees did not have an opportunity to hear a properly handled call, and there was no structured help for those who did not pass. Instructors were not measured on performance, so the low passing rates were not translating into meaningful improvements. We took a holistic approach to the problem, listened to customer calls and evaluated role-play exercises, and rolled out a suite of initiatives that would support learners before and after the exam:
- A training library was built with “excellent” and “work needed” calls that new employees could review
- Updated technology was implemented so that trainees could listen to live calls handled by experienced associates
- Supplemental training was designed for those who failed the exam on their initial attempt
- Managers were brought in to observe training instructors and perform coaching
- Instructor performance was measured via a monthly scorecard system
- Attrition risks were identified, and “save plans” developed to retain at-risk associates
- Additional training sessions for instructors put effective processes behind the employee retention plans
The comprehensive, structured support changed “discouragement” to “encouragement,” and enabled more new hires to succeed. It also changed the way a new employee felt about being a part of the organization. Within two quarters, first-time passing rates went from 16 percent to over 42 percent — a 162 percent increase. Overall attrition declined, and attrition due to test failure dropped almost in half, to 15 percent. Forty-two new associates were ready for the operations floor; assuming each employee stayed at the company for one year, each one would generate over $700,000 in total revenue.