Q&A: Learning Tribes Takes Sitel Training Practices to Emotional Levels

Philippe Riveron, CEO of Learning Tribes, explains how Sitel and his company are innovating in the training sphere, retaining human emotion in a chatbot-filled world.

Learning Tribes CEO Philippe Riveron Sitel

Training human resources has always been a time-consuming, expensive process, so one company, Learning Tribes, has decided to break the mold, introducing innovative learning practices that focus on human emotion and emerging technologies.

Learning Tribes was founded in Paris, France 14 years ago by Philippe Riveron, a BPO industry veteran with prior experience in call center management and corporate training. In 2016, the company merged with Sitel Group, which now brings in 20% of its overall revenue. Along with Paris, Learning tribes has offices in China, Brazil, the UK, and Miami.

Nearshore Americas caught up with Riveron to learn how Learning Tribes’ is innovating in the training sphere, retaining human emotion in a chatbot-filled world, and how Sitel and its clients are benefiting from these new approaches.

Nearshore Americas: What led to the creation of Learning Tribes, and what values or challenges are driving your training innovations?

Philippe Riveron: When I worked in the telecommunications industry, I was constantly providing training updates for agents whenever a new project or process was introduced, so I was driven to find ways to improve that training process.

We started to look at mixing ILT (instructor-led training) with digital learning, or e-learning, which was the beginning of Learning Tribes. Today, we fuse digital and live training with motivation tools and storytelling to create new learning solutions.

When we first discussed this approach with Sitel Group – Acticall Group at the time – they had HR challenges surrounding how to on-board, develop, and maintain agents in the company. These challenges became so important for Sitel Group that we decided to merge together, leading to the development of a corporate university for Sitel and new corporate training solutions for clients.

Nearshore Americas: What kind of training innovations are you currently providing, and what impact have they had on trainees?

Philippe Riveron: Learning Tribes designs and develops training paths for agents, operations managers, workforce management teams and more, while also providing the technology behind all of it. We’ve developed a platform called Triboo, which is an accessible learning experience platform that combines ILT, VILT (virtual ILT), co-assessment, surveys, participatory projects, and more.

Learning in this industry is always a big thing, so on-boarding, for us, starts from the moment they sign the contract, or sometimes before, by getting them engaged with a MOOC (massive open online course) to focus on things like customer experience 101.

This is a free-access digital course for anyone that gives an overview of the business, the methodology behind customer experience, tips on how to improve skills, and ways to learn from the best agents and clients already in the company.

If agents are only transactional, then they are not adding that emotional value over the bots, so our biggest challenge is training people to utilize emotion.

As agents progress they achieve badges, and when they get all badges they get a certification that is a VIP pass to enter Sitel on a shortcut to interview. The content at this stage is quite generic, but allows us to bring people into the Sitel world.

The second step, if they are recruited and want to learn more from day one, is that agents can access a new hire onboarding class, which provides company information, market information, etc., in one tool called MyAcademy, and also provides an onboarding certification that can be shown to the HR manager once complete.

Nearshore Americas: Considering that all agents learn differently, what are the main challenges that Learning Tribes faces in developing new training tools for Sitel agents?

Philippe Riveron: When it comes to using artificial intelligence and chatbots, agents need to understand when the context of the customer interaction requires a human touch, and something which the bot cannot provide – emotion.

We need to create an atmosphere with clients that helps them to recognize the difference between bots and humans. We call this human augmenting, which allows us to see how the agent will interact with the clients when a bot is unable to handle it. This trend is not so easy to accommodate, because you need agents to understand what it is that bots can provide.

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It’s all about trying figure out the best way to generate emotion during a customer interaction. It is not easy to train an agent who is used to using a script, following an “abc” structure, and moving them to a structure of “xyz” or “xybca”, taking them off-script and improvising when the situation demands it. But, if we don’t do that, then bots will take over these jobs. If agents are only transactional, then they are not adding that emotional value over the bots, so our biggest challenge is training people to utilize emotion.

It’s about improving soft skills, like empathy, and giving agents the opportunity to create content for themselves. Storytelling helps a lot to bring emotion to the training. If you create an environment where the learner will have a good experience with room for creativity, they can create their own content, and an instructional designer to help create it – for example, they might have to search for a video that shows great customer engagement, meaning they are adding their own content to the course.

Everybody is a customer of banks, retail, and other industries, so we all have experience with customer engagement from the customer side. If I want to train someone in how to improve CX in voice, for example, we need to ask “what was your best experience and how did you measure the satisfaction”, allowing them to develop their skills based on that experience.

Nearshore Americas: What will be the next big training trends in the BPO space? Where might new technologies change the training landscape even more?

Philippe Riveron: We definitely think that social platforms will become a gateway for training, so we are also looking at building something within Facebook Messenger and already have a WeChat platform in Asia.

Our development center in Shanghai is also looking into the next big developments in training. One of the biggest right now is virtual reality (VR) training, so we are looking into VR solutions with clients.

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