For public assistance hotline 2-1-1 San Diego, success means connecting people who need help with the right resources—quickly and compassionately. And that’s not always easy. Agents handle sensitive conversations, such as people seeking food and utility assistance, help with domestic issues, addiction and recovery services, and more.
What agents say and how they say it can be the difference between helpful dialogue and an unpleasant one. Sometimes all it takes is a slight misunderstanding or a lapse in connection to end up with dissatisfied callers who don’t get the help they need.
So how do you make sure that agents are always empowered with the information and training they need to connect their callers with resources and make them feel supported?
You develop a rock-solid training program.
Using Storyline, Gio Jones, learning designer and developer at 2-1-1 San Diego, was able to build three fully interactive, comprehensive training courses ahead of schedule on his own. As a result, the organization boosted customer satisfaction by more than 15% in 6 months. Here’s how he did it.
The Challenge of Training On-Call Agents
Gio’s biggest challenge was delivering training to agents while leaving them available to take calls. In his own words, it’s “kind of like changing a tire while you’re still driving the car.”
He used classroom training and reading assignments to introduce learners to the breadth of services available and coach them on conversational nuances, such as active listening, word choice, and tone of voice—things he wanted to train in-person.
Then, he used online training to let learners apply these concepts in a variety of scenarios until they were comfortable with them—without keeping them away from their desks and off phones. “E-learning was essential because it was a place to recap and practice what our agents learned in the readings and face-to-face trainings,” he notes.
And when it came time to create e-learning, Gio immediately chose Storyline as his development tool-of-choice. Why? He’d become comfortable using Articulate Storyline in a past 2-1-1 San Diego project. “It was a learn-by-doing adventure, but Storyline was so easy to use that I quickly became proficient.”
Using Audio to Bring Interactions to Life
Right from the start, Gio wanted to make sure the e-learning grabbed agents’ attention and moved quickly enough to keep them engaged. Each course features a character to guide agents through the material, along with audio clips of realistic dialogue to bring a scenario to life.
With dialogue recorded in-house, it’s easy for learners to imagine themselves in the scenario.
“Articulate tools made it really easy to integrate audio and video into courses,” Gio recalls. “When you hear the inflection in a caller’s voice, you can really showcase the give-and-take in a conversation, where adding in just a few key words or sentences can make the whole exchange feel warmer and safer for them.”
Gio even asked employees to help. “We run a lean operation, so it was really fun to get people involved to voice different parts. They loved being a part of the finished product.” With Storyline, he was able to record narration from within his workflow, making it easy to add a personal touch.
Helping Agents Find the Right Words
Customer agents at 2-1-1 San Diego deal with a lot of emotionally loaded calls. When speaking with a defensive or suspicious caller, the agent’s goal is to engage the customer as an active participant in the process of getting them help.
Agents need a lot of practice getting this right—it’s tricky! That’s why, after being introduced to the material through readings and in the classroom, the agents use online training to practice the newly learned skills until they become habit.
It was important to Gio that the courses felt as real as possible so that the simulated practice would be immediately applicable. With Storyline, he was able to personalize courses to put agents at the center of the action.
Gio used Storyline’s variables to create a gender-personalized experience for agents.
In each lesson, agents are presented with branching scenarios that let them choose the best way to respond to different situations. To move through the modeled conversation, agents must select the best answers based on what they learned in readings and classroom training.
If they choose an inappropriate response, they’ll see how a caller might respond and are prompted to consider (with hints) how to navigate the situation differently. This gives learners plenty of opportunities to recover from a misstep.
Branching scenarios like this one let agents think through each response before choosing one, modeling what they’re asked to do on the fly in their day-to-day role.
Gio also included drag-and-drop exercises to let agents piece together the most effective statements for connecting with callers. In this low-pressure environment, agents practice building trust and improving their ability to quickly match callers with the resources they need.
This drag-and-drop exercise helps agents build statements that make callers active participants in the conversation.
At the end of their training, agents must pass a multiple-choice quiz covering all the material covered in the reading materials, classroom, and online training.
Additionally, an in-house QA group monitors calls to make sure agents are practicing what they’ve learned in the training. In the event that agents are not meeting metrics, Gio created a coaching course that covers additional training scenarios.
Celebrating a Boost to Caller Satisfaction
Gio’s approach to training agents has delivered serious results for 2-1-1 San Diego. A month after launching the first course in his three-course series, callers showed a 5% increase in satisfaction after the first month, with a 2% lift month over month for the next 5 months.
That’s a 15% improvement in customer satisfaction in just 6 months!
Not only did 2-1-1 San Diego achieve awesome results, it did so in record time. At many companies, the development time for a three-course e-learning program could be a year or more. But with Storyline’s help, Gio completed a single online training course in the three-part curriculum in just 10 weeks, and the other two took even less time. “Once I had the first course down, the other two were a snap,” he smiles.
What’s more, with the e-learning he developed using Storyline, Gio was able to train agents while they simultaneously answered calls. Over the 30-day implementation, Gio and his team were able to move all 60 call-center agents through the program in shifts. Today, the program Gio helped establish is a primary tool for onboarding and refresher training.
Storyline makes it easy for organizations like 2-1-1 San Diego build the training they need and quickly realize results. See how this award-winning authoring tool can help you achieve extraordinary things at your company.
At Articulate, we’re super passionate about making sure everyone has opportunities to learn the skills they need to pursue their dreams. And of course since we’re a technology company, we’re extra-passionate about helping people develop careers in tech, if that’s what they want to do.
That’s why we are excited to partner with Rails Girls to sponsor their Summer of Code for the third year in a row.
Summer of Code is a three-month program that gives women a chance to gain hands-on experience by spending a summer building open-source code. They’re paired with experienced software engineers who can provide technical and career mentorship. And this training program includes a scholarship to make sure everyone can afford to participate.
Learn more about Rails Girls Summer of Code and all the cool projects on their blog.
And this isn’t the only awesome program we’re investing in to support bringing diverse folks into the tech sector. We’re proud to provide funding for Girl Develop It as well. If you’re interested in learning more about Articulate’s support for nonprofits, check out the Articulate for Good program.
It’s a big day! We are so excited to announce the first-ever Articulate for Good grant award winners. We’ll be helping these nonprofits to tackle their important projects with grants of cash, Articulate software, and training (thanks to our partners at Yukon Learning).
Since we announced this new program in September, we’ve received more than 30 applications from nonprofits working on job training, health, environmental, and educational programs all over the world. We loved learning about all of these amazing organizations and the compelling ways they’re incorporating e-learning in their programs.
A team from Articulate carefully evaluated all applications and chose these stand-out winners:
- BUILD helps prepare young people from under-resourced communities for high school, college, and career success. BUILD helps kids develop and run their own small businesses to supplement traditional school curricula with real-world business experience. BUILD will use Articulate software to create and deliver training for BUILD classroom teachers. This training will help spread BUILD’s programs throughout the U.S. to reach more kids.
- Corporate America Supports You (CASY) helps connect National Guard, reserve, transitioning military members, and veterans with job skills training. CASY offers tons of programs for veterans, including resume, interview prep, networking, and direct hire opportunities for job-ready applicants. CASY has traditionally provided its training through live webinars, but with support from Articulate for Good, CASY will begin converting its content to self-paced, online training.
- The Global Lives Project highlights the common elements of the human experience by capturing 24 continuous hours of video in the lives of ordinary individuals. Global Lives will use Articulate software to create educational programs to encourage discussion about different cultures, languages, and religions all over the world.
- OneSky organizes training programs in China to help caregivers and orphanage administrators care for young children during their critical early stages of development. With help from an Articulate for Good grant, OneSky will create online training programs to help caregivers learn to care for little ones in nurturing, loving ways.
- Project WET Foundation creates and delivers water education programming all over the world to help communities boost their health, conserve water, and protect their local environments. Project WET Foundation has already created five online training sessions focused on hand-washing, soap basics, disease prevention, water conservation, and watershed education. With support from this grant, Project WET Foundation will create new courses to train trainers who provide sanitation and hygiene education to adults teaching in local Sri Lankan and Haitian schools.
- Upwardly Global offers job training and services for skilled immigrants and refugees, helping integrate these folks into the U.S. workforce. With support from Articulate for Good, Upwardly Global will create an employment readiness and job search curriculum that will help learners improve their resumes, interview skills, and much more.
- YearUp is a year-long training program that helps urban young adults gain job skills and experience. It also helps connect these youth to hiring companies. Using Articulate software, YearUp will train staff on how to more effectively help young people prepare for and find meaningful employment.
We’re thrilled to see what these grant recipients do with support from Articulate for Good! Of course we’ll keep you posted on their results.
Thanks so much for helping us spread the word about this program, and thanks to all the applicants for sharing your inspiring projects with us.
We plan to offer Articulate for Good grants regularly, so please add your email address here to stay in the loop about news and funding opportunities.
It’s official: Articulate Storyline 2 is a winner! With two major awards this week, Storyline 2 cements its place as the industry-leading e-learning development tool.
The industry gurus at the Brandon Hall Group recognized Storyline 2 with a Gold Medal in the Best Advance in Content Authoring Technology category. And that’s not all! E-learning creators gave Storyline 2 their vote for the Best of Elearning! Award for Best E-Learning Development Tool. It makes our day to hear that both industry analysts and users agree that Storyline 2 is the best tool for creating online and mobile learning.
Articulate Storyline 2 is the industry leader because it makes it so easy for anyone to create any interactive e-learning you can imagine. It’s simple enough for beginners and powerful enough for experts. You can build beautiful online and mobile courses with engaging interactions, insightful assessments, and immersive software simulations—quickly and easily.
And Storyline 2 just keeps racking up awards! You can check out some of our other wins here.
Interested in learning more about Storyline 2? Read all about it here. (If you want to check it out, help yourself to a free, 30-day trial.)
One of the great things about being a software engineer is the kind of opportunities my skills afford me. I get to work on exciting projects like creating Articulate’s community platform—projects that help people and make a big impact. I want more women to have access to these types of opportunities. That’s why I’m a passionate advocate and volunteer for Girl Develop It, a fantastic organization that connects women with educational programs in software engineering and computer science.
Through in-person classes and community support, Girl Develop It, or GDI, helps women of diverse backgrounds achieve their technology goals and build confidence in their careers and their everyday lives. And that’s why I’m so excited to announce that Articulate is a Community Partner to GDI for the second year in a row. Articulate’s sponsorship will support both the national organization and my local Ann Arbor chapter, where I’m a proud volunteer and organizer. In combination with Articulate’s sponsorship of Rails Girls Summer of Code, these investments reflect our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive tech culture.
I love seeing the impact of GDI’s work in my community. We’ve offered tons of workshops, scholarships, career events, and user group meetings. And we’ve got lots of amazing stuff planned for 2016, such as more in-depth panel discussions, fresh workshop topics, and some great networking opportunities.
With Articulate’s commitment, GDI can do even more in my community and nationwide. To keep up with GDI’s awesome work, follow our Ann Arbor chapter and the national organization on Twitter.