Upskilling in Contact Centers: Strategies for employee development

upskilling in contact centers

The contact center industry is known for its fast-paced environment and high turnover rates. However, companies prioritizing employee development and upskilling are seeing the benefits of a more skilled, engaged workforce. Upskilling, or providing additional training and education to employees, can improve job satisfaction, reduce turnover, and better customer service. 

This blog post will explore the importance of upskilling in contact centers and how it can help organizations achieve business success.


The importance of upskilling in contact centers

To stay competitive in today’s business world, contact centers must adapt to the ever-changing demands of customer service. With customer expectations continually evolving, organizations need to invest in their workforce’s professional development to provide the best possible customer experience. This is where upskilling comes in.

Upskilling is the process of providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs effectively. It’s an essential component of talent development that can help organizations meet their strategic objectives and remain competitive in the industry.

In contact centers, upskilling ensures employees can keep up with evolving customer needs and emerging technologies. From customer service representatives to managers, upskilling can help develop and maintain a knowledgeable, productive, and engaged workforce. Providing employees with opportunities for professional development can also improve job satisfaction and employee retention.

According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), organizations that invest in employee development have a 34% higher retention rate than those that don’t. This is significant in the contact center industry, where high employee turnover rates can negatively impact the quality of customer service and increase recruitment and training costs.


There are many benefits to upskilling in contact centers. It can:

  • Improve customer satisfaction: Organizations can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to provide excellent customer service.
  • Increase efficiency: Upskilling can help employees learn new technologies and processes to streamline operations and improve productivity.
  • Boost employee engagement: Providing opportunities for professional development can show employees they are valued and invested in, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement.
  • Enhance organizational reputation: By investing in employee development, organizations can improve their reputation as a great place to work and attract top talent.



Challenges of upskilling in contact centers

While upskilling programs can provide numerous benefits for contact centers, organizations may face a number of challenges when trying to implement such programs. 

Some of the most common upskilling challenges include:

  • Budget constraints: Upskilling programs require resources and funding, and budget constraints can often limit the scope of these programs. Contact centers may need help to secure the necessary funding to implement a comprehensive upskilling program.
  • Resistance from employees or managers: Resistance from employees or managers can be another challenge when implementing upskilling programs. Some employees may be resistant to learning new skills or technologies, while managers may be reluctant to invest in employee development due to concerns about productivity and performance.
  • Lack of time: Contact centers are often fast-paced environments where employees are under pressure to meet tight deadlines and performance targets. Finding the time for employees to participate in upskilling programs can be challenging, especially if it means taking them away from their regular duties.



To overcome these challenges and implement successful upskilling programs, contact centers can consider the following tips or solutions:

  • Advantageous tax benefits: Organizations can take advantage of the tax benefits of providing education benefits, which allows them to deduct up to $5,250 per employee per year in education expenses.
  • Seek out grants: Various grants are available to help fund upskilling programs. Organizations can research and apply for grants to help cover the costs of training and development programs.
  • Partner with training providers: Partnering with training providers can help organizations access the resources and expertise needed to implement effective upskilling programs. Training providers can help design and deliver customized training programs tailored to the specific needs of the contact center.
  • Offer flexible learning options: Offering flexible learning options can help employees fit upskilling into their busy schedules. Online training courses or self-paced learning modules can be completed at the employee’s convenience, allowing them to balance their work and training responsibilities.
  • Communicate the benefits: Clear communication about the benefits of upskilling programs can help overcome resistance from employees or managers. Organizations can highlight the potential for career advancement, increased job satisfaction, and improved performance due to upskilling.


Strategies for implementing upskilling in contact centers

To successfully implement upskilling programs in contact centers, it is essential to have a clear plan and a commitment to employee development. 

Here are some of the best practices for implementing upskilling programs in contact centers:

  • Assess employee skills and interests: Conducting a skills and interest assessment for each employee can help identify areas where they need training and development. This can be done through performance reviews, surveys, or one-on-one meetings with managers.
  • Create customized training plans: Once the skills and interests of employees have been identified, organizations can create customized upskilling programs that are tailored to overall business needs. This can include online courses, workshops, job shadowing, or other forms of training.
  • Use gamification or other engaging techniques: Gamification and other engaging techniques can enhance learning and make training more enjoyable. This can include using simulations, games, or other interactive training methods.
  • Offer incentives: Offering incentives, such as bonuses or promotions, can motivate employees to participate in upskilling programs and to continue learning and developing their skills.
  • Partner with training providers: Partnering with training providers can provide access to expertise and resources that organizations may not have in-house. This can include career mobility platforms, consulting services, or other resources supporting employee development.

By following these strategies and best practices, organizations can create effective upskilling programs that help employees develop new skills and advance their careers in the contact center industry.



The role of technology and project-based learning 

Technology has played a significant role in upskilling in contact centers, helping organizations provide efficient and effective employee training. With the use of various technological tools and platforms, contact centers can now offer innovative and interactive training sessions to their staff.

Virtual reality training is one such technology that has proven to be effective in upskilling. This technology provides an immersive learning experience that simulates real-world scenarios. Employees can practice their skills in a safe environment, which helps them gain confidence and knowledge. Virtual reality training is especially helpful in contact centers where employees must handle challenging customer interactions.



Several companies have already implemented technology-driven upskilling programs in their contact centers. For example, Capital One used gamification to upskill its call center employees. The company created a leaderboard that tracked employee performance and rewarded top performers. This gamification strategy helped improve employee engagement and retention.

Another example is American Express, which implemented virtual reality training for its contact center employees. The company created a virtual reality simulation of a customer call, which enabled employees to practice their skills in a realistic environment. The program helped increase employee engagement, reduce training time, and improve customer satisfaction.

Another effective approach to upskilling in contact centers is project-based learning (PBL). PBL involves employees working on real-world projects relevant to their jobs and requiring them to apply the skills they have learned. This approach can help employees develop critical thinking skills and enhance their problem-solving abilities. In addition, PBL can help employees feel more engaged and motivated as they work on projects that have a tangible impact on the business. 

National Training Laboratories, learning through experience is far more effective than traditional teaching methods. The average retention rate for material learned through lecture is only 5%. However, 75% of knowledge gained through hands-on experience is retained. This highlights the importance of project-based learning as an effective way to upskill contact center employees.


Upskill your workforce with Pathstream

Upskilling in contact centers is a vital step toward building a workforce that can keep up with the fast-paced changes in customer service. The benefits of upskilling include improved customer satisfaction, reduced employee turnover, and increased productivity. By addressing the challenges and implementing the best practices and technologies we’ve discussed, contact centers can create a culture of learning and growth that benefits both employees and the organization.

At Pathstream, we understand the importance of upskilling in the contact center industry. Our platform has helped Fortune 500 companies improve digital skill proficiencies by 111% among employees enrolled in our programs.

By partnering with Pathstream, you can empower your employees to develop new skills, advance their careers, and achieve success. Schedule a demo and learn how Pathstream can help your contact center.

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