Four Most Important KSAs for CSR Training

The offices of the president and provost at a large university were receiving many complaints about the registration office being unresponsive to student problems during registration for classes. The director of registration felt that, because of the high turnover in customer service representatives (CSRs) who handled student problems, most CSRs did not know the proper procedure. The director wanted to initiate training in registration procedures immediately and called in a consultant to help develop and conduct the training. After listening to the director’s description of what was wanted, the consultant said, “You’re probably right. Of course, we could conduct a training needs analysis to clarify the exact nature of the performance problem.” The director was concerned about the time required for a needs analysis and wanted to get training started right away. However, in agreeing that the needs analysis would determine specific problem areas, the director said, “Okay, do the analysis, but get started on training right away. I want them to know exactly what they are supposed to do.” The needs analysis revealed the steps and procedures that an effective CSR was required to complete in dealing with an unhappy customer. For example, one of the first steps for the CSR was to identify and clarify the customer’s problem and to acknowledge the feelings the customer was displaying (e.g., anger or frustration) in a friendly and empathetic manner. Once these feelings had been acknowledged, the CSR was to determine the exact nature of the customer’s problem through non-evaluative questioning (i.e., determining the facts without placing blame for outcomes). Interviews with the CSRs established that they all knew the correct procedure and most could quote it word for word. However, observation of the CSRs at work showed marked differences in how the procedure was carried out. Further analysis of each CSR’s skills in performing these tasks revealed that the primary causes of unsatisfactory performance were low skill levels and inappropriate attitudes. Although nearly everyone “knew” what to do, some were not good at doing it. Others did not believe that it was important to follow every step. One CSR said, “Hey if they get their problem solved, what do they care if I acknowledged their feelings?” Certainly, training was required in this case, but not the “knowledge” training the registration director thought was necessary. For those CSRs who lacked the behavioral skill to carry out the procedures, demonstrations and practice sessions with immediate feedback were provided. For those CSRs who had the skill but did not understand the importance of all the procedures, training sessions were conducted in which the CSRs re-evaluated their attitudes through various educational and experiential activities. Based on the case study, answer the following questions.


1. Assume that you were hired to develop a training program for these CSRs. Write down what you believe are the four most important KSAs your training must address and your reasoning for selecting these.
2. Justify why the four (4) KSAs chosen in question 1 are appropriate and relevant.
3. Give three (3) reasons why conducting a training needs analysis was appropriate before designing and implementing the training programme for the CSRs.
4. Identify and explain Five (5) factors that might facilitate the successful transfer of learning from the training onto the job.
5. Let’s assume that the training programme was success and the trainees successfully transferred what they learned unto the job, yet there is no improvement in their performance. Identify and explain four (4) reasons why this might be the case.

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