CHELMSFORD CALL CENTRE – ACADEMY TAKES NEW APPROACH TO IT LEARNING
This week, Chelmsford Academy’s Apprentices created their very own Helpdesk Call Centre as a way of finishing their IT assignment in style.
Apprentices. as part of their Technology Certificate, have to complete an assignment which consists of a fake call centre scenario where they must take 15 example email support requests and respond within a set of criteria. In discussion with the Chelmsford Apprentices, the academy decided to take their training for this to a more extreme level and the young people created an actual live skype based call centre that took calls during the afternoon from other Apprentices and staff at the academy who were posing as customers with genuinely broken computers. The call centre fielded calls for two hours fixing multiple hardware and software issues including supporting customers’ needs with office software like Word and Excel.
The Apprentices created a small service level agreement that determined the way in which the centre would operate and a process chart that guided the individual support staff on how to deal with calls that came in. The helpdesk operators used google and online resources live to look up error codes or issues then logged the call and outcome in a small database they made. The Apprentices split into groups to manage this activity. One group created the SLA, database and process chart, then trained the helpdesk staff in using it. The second group set up skype on multiple machines in two rooms including headsets and TeamViewer and the final group set about creating a list of ways to “break” the customer/callers PC’s with realistic issues for the support staff to troubleshoot.
Room 1 was set up as a call centre with 6 support desk operators and a supervisor. Room 2 had 6 customers with various PC problems including both hardware and software issues. Each customer’s Skype was loaded with all 6 support desk operator’s numbers so they dialled randomly without knowing which support person would receive their call based on which line was free. There were also 3 Apprentices assigned as moderators who made sure the exercise went smoothly and that any problems with headsets or setup could be fixed without the call centre going offline.
Here is an example of one such call. One customer phoned the help desk and said the internet connection on their personal laptop would not connect to the internet. The Apprentice moderators whose task it had been to “break” the customer computers had disabled the internet connection in the adapter settings. First-line support managed to resolve about 80% of the issues within 5 minutes with the remainder being solved by supervisors and no issues left unsolved.
Lee Moorton, IT Trainer for the Chelmsford Academy, had this to say, “This exercise was very successful and the students loved both setting up the call centre and participating in the scenario. We gave everyone the opportunity to be both a customer and a help desk operator so that all the apprentices got a perspective of what it feels like to be on both ends of the calls.
“While this requires 2 rooms and a lot of setting up, the process of putting this together was a big learning curve for the Apprentices and using things like 10 minute mail, Skype and Pound land headphones it was very cheap and professionally beneficial for the Apprentices to do. Each exercise was followed by a debrief discussion where we talked about ways to improve the task, gave the customers a chance to rate the quality of the service they received, and discussed ways some of the more complicated problems could have been resolved more quickly using improved troubleshooting or communication skills.”
He went on to discuss the impact this innovative method has had on the Apprentices, “Given how many skills are involved in both creating and completing this scenario the amount of unit criteria potentially covered here is phenomenal and perhaps more importantly this provides a very real-world training scenario that we believe employers will be very impressed by given how transferable these skills are to the workplace.”
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