Many of our trainers also develop our training material, meaning there is a lot of opportunity to take ownership of what is taught in the training room. In order to do this effectively, we need to know where the agents’ difficulties lie, what we should concentrate on more in the training room and where the gaps in our material may be (TNA). We can’t do this by simply taking calls – it’s not realistic; as Dylan quite rightly said “A trainer cannot be effectively analysing calls and experience while at the same time providing a high level of customer service.” In addition, unless we were taking calls on a continuous basis (and I doubt many trainers’ schedules allow time for that) we would still not see the job from an agent’s perspective.
In my opinion, it’s not necessary for trainers to go onto the phones in order to be in touch with what the agents are coming into contact with on a daily basis. Observation is a much more effective tool. Listening in to live or recorded calls gives the trainer an overall, unbiased view of what is happening on the floor and on calls.
Of course, should a trainer feel that they wish to take calls for a couple of days purely in order to put themselves ‘in the shoes’ of a first-time agent so that they can improve the quality of their own training, that trainer can only be applauded for taking a personal interest in the learning experience of his/her agents.
I read, in your question, the sub-question “Is it acceptable to expect your agents to do something you can't do?” Well, I know how to make a good call; the problem is I’m simply not much good at it! I can demonstrate all parts of a call, separately, very well in a mock-call situation in a training room environment, but to demonstrate a whole, live, successful call whilst also continuing to be aware of, and in control of, the agents’ learning experience is an almost impossible task, and I defy any trainer who says it isn’t!
However, I don’t completely agree with Justin when he says “I do not NEED to know how to take a call to properly coach and develop a person. Management and Training skills are different than one's required to take a call.” Although training skills ARE very different from those required to take a call, this does not mean that a trainer should not ensure that they have acquired the skill they are to train, before they begin training it. Imagine if a maths teacher couldn’t do mental arithmetic, even though he had an excellent teaching style, do you think he’d be very good at his job? Therefore, process-trainers must know the process thoroughly; customer service trainers must be completely comfortable with all areas of customer service and so on.