Counting Every US Resident

Laurus Design, LLC has partnered with a Fortune 100 company on the largest peacetime mobilization of resources in our country’s history - the 2010 U. S. Census. We’re talking about gathering data on every resident in the entire country via mail-in questionnaires!

Having won the ASTD Excellence in Practice Award for our work with Wells Fargo Phone Bank, Laurus Design, LLC was selected in 2008 as the training provider for call centers for questionnaire respondents.

Our industry-recognized success in the field of call center training positioned Laurus Design to take the lead on this challenging effort, which required us to train up more than 5,000 call center employees over a 10-day period for the inbound call phase – and to cross-train that staff for the outbound call phase in only 2 calendar weeks.

Go back with us to August 2008, when Laurus started to envision what could be in 2010. As curious training professionals do, we started asking a lot of questions about business needs, target audience characteristics, knowledge and skill requirements, physical space, security constraints, and possibilities for technology-based learning. We quickly identified our biggest challenges and most valuable assets.

Challenges: Train more than 5,000 call center employees in record time for the inbound call phase – then cross-train the same staff for the outbound call phase in only two weeks. Do it without a training instance of the call center software application that agents use when interacting with callers. Deploy training in a locked-down technical environment that protects respondent data. And, did we mention that we had only one 25-seat classroom for every 300 trainees?

Assets: Computers and headsets out on the call center floor – one for every learner. And, highly-expert trainers – at a ratio of one to every 75 trainees!

Laurus Design brought to bear all our past experience and expertise in e-learning and call center operations to architect what is arguably the most creative use of online learning tools and practices ever used in the training industry. Our solution leverages the assets of the call center and requires virtually no classroom space.

So what did we propose, build, and deploy in the first quarter of 2010?

Solution: Use distance learning technology to connect trainees – not across geographies, but within the brick and mortar space of their local call center.

Using Adobe tools in the secure call center environment, trainers deliver a blend of:

  • Virtual classroom activities, using Adobe Connect Pro and highly-interactive instructional design strategies. We believe that trainees prefer to learn with the guidance of an expert facilitator and with the opportunity to share ideas in a group setting. We also have a strong bias against lecture, so no death by PowerPoint.
  • Self-paced online modules, using Adobe Presenter and creative visual design techniques. We want our trainees to enjoy their learning experiences and to be excited about being part of this massive initiative, so we added some dramatic multi-media elements.
  • Online demonstrations of call center applications, using Adobe Captivate. We know that hands-on practice is a must to achieve day 1 performance on the phones.
  • Traditional classroom-style role plays, using caller scripts and “let me try” style online systems emulations. We reduce job shock and build confidence by enabling call center agents to practice using soft skills and software applications in a variety of caller scenarios before taking live calls.
  • Certification, using online testing. We need assurance that our agents are ready to represent the the government when interacting with US residents, so all trainees are given certification tests, with scores tracked in the learning management system of Adobe Connect Pro.
Combining a variety of training delivery methods gave us the best of all worlds in this call center training environment. Laurus Design implemented a solution that didn't require us to sacrifice the benefits of the traditional instructor-led training. We used online training technologies where they were the right delivery mechanism to meet the learning need. We deployed learner-focused training within the secure call center technology environment, using a technology platform to meet the needs of the learners without compromising the security of respondent data. And, most importantly, Laurus Design, LLC equipped agents to collect complete and accurate data that is used to shape congressional districts and funnel government funding where it is most needed.

P.S. Within the first three weeks of call taking (late March to early April 2010), the agents we trained met quality service levels at 98% or better. And, average handle time was well within projected durations. Now, that's measurable success!

Customer feedback about the project:

“You have done an absolutely outstanding job with the Census training. Like I’ve said before, in all my years, I’ve never seen such high quality training in a call center environment.”
Service Quality Assurance Lead, 2010 Census Call Center

“We wouldn’t have been successful without you. You mitigated and overcame one of the biggest risks we had on this program—training the 1000s of employees we needed, in a short period of time, on and application and content that was unique and sometimes complicated. Additionally, your response was fantastic when we had to change course. Thank you for your flexibility and ‘can do’ attitude and approach.”
National Operations Lead, 2010 Census Call Center